The Window Brooke Mullen looked out of as a kid showed her only a sliver of the world. She wanted to see the rest. 

She graduated high school early after receiving a Rotary Club scholarship to study abroad in Romania for a year. College courses and programs took her to China, Japan, Korea and Spain. “The more I traveled, the more I tested my own understandings, beliefs, and knowledge, and the more addicting it became. Traveling was a constant source of growth for me, but to make good on this privilege, I had to do something impactful with what I learned and experienced.” 

Traveling helped Brooke see the world. However, the communities and connections she encountered helped her see herself. 

In 2008, Brooke moved to Thailand to pursue her Masters in Human Rights, and not long after started working with the United Nations on a regional human trafficking project. During that experience, she came to understand that a lack of local job opportunities pushed people into high-risk migration, resulting in increased vulnerabilities and incidences of trafficking.

Women-led co-ops and small businesses in rural villages struggled to make their trade sustainable. The more she traveled through Thailand, the more artisans she met. And the more she learned that they all wanted the same things she wanted: The opportunity to thrive, to build a life, and to care for a family. That was the gap. That was her call to action.

On a research trip in Myanmar, Brooke reached a turning point when she met Marie Tu. They were the same age. Both were curious, driven, and ambitious, and most of all were determined to empower other women. But like many of the artisans Brooke had met, Marie suffered from a lack of agency, fair treatment, job opportunities, access to capital.

“I knew if I could somehow help her, she was going to help millions of people. She is the force multiplier,” thought Brooke. 

All I needed was a way to generate money for Marie Tu's scholarship. But how, at only 25 years old myself, and having just started my Master's degree in Human Rights, was I going to find money for a scholarship? I needed a creative solution – ideally one that could help more people than just Marie Tu. And that's how Sapahn started to take shape.I have always loved and admired the skills of local artisans while working in Thailand and I saw an opportunity. Most of the artisans were women in rural villages without stable incomes, or opportunities. They were just as vulnerable as Marie Tu had been.

Brooke asked Marie Tu what would change her circumstances, Marie Tu said simply: “Education.” And that answer and the subsequent solution of funding a scholarship for her opened The Door.

Brooke began buying as many artisan products as she could pack into her suitcases and took them home to the U.S. She held a trunk show and everything sold out. Soon Brooke went from a buyer to a designer, working with the connections she had made to create a network of artisans. A business was born. It put people first. Paid them fairly. Treated them honorably. 

It was Brooke Mullen’s desire to see the world that took her to Thailand. But it was the connections she made there that showed her something deeper. She found a way to utilize fashion to promote human rights, mobilize people, and do something beautiful, supported by deeply loyal customers who share similar values and passions. 

While our artisans and customers may be separated by thousands of miles, they share a desire for opportunity. For agency. For freedom. For fairness. For love. 

So to connect them, Brooke Mullen created Sapahn. It’s a Thai word. It means The Bridge. 

Woven and stitched into everything we make is the shared responsibility to recognize the humanity in each other. 

Since 2010, we have defied the status quo in the fashion industry by proving that the beautiful things we buy can honor the beauty of the people who made them. 

You'll like how it looks. But you'll love how it feels.

This is Sapahn. The Beauty You Hold.


Well, the profits from the first 2.5 years of Sapahn paid for a good portion of her education. Her first job out of school was working at the United Nations in Myanmar and now she works as a liaison for Myanmar Parliament. Plus in 2016, she opened her own therapeutic massage business in Yangoon to employ women in her neighborhood.