I came across Khmer Creations as I was looking into organizations that were focused on ethical enterprise, utilizing fair trade practices and working with women. Their story is quite amazing and so I felt compelled to reached out and enquire if they have an interest in a collaboration.
I came across Khmer Creations as I was looking into organizations that were focused on ethical enterprise, utilizing fair trade practices and working with women. Their story is quite amazing and I felt compelled to reach out to their founder and enquire if they have an interest in a collaboration. When I heard back and began to learn more about them, the excitement only grew.
They were founded in 2007, by foreigners working in Cambodia, with the hopes of offering Cambodian women sustainable and safe employment. Originally started as an art therapy workshop, in shelters for sex-trafficked women, it has grown into a social enterprise to empower women through business mentorship, financial literacy workshops, leadership and project management trainings. So now, 12 years later, they are working towards being a 100% artisan-owned cooperative. Which is where we come in.
I started chatted with one of the Founders who now is back living in Australia and was quickly handed over the Managing Director, Samnang. We began speaking about what all Khmer Creations is and what they hope to be and then went on to start creating the first order.
I was in Thailand at the time and as I want to work closely with the organizations I partner with, I decided to head to Phnom Penh to finalize the order. I was drawn to their mission, and the integrity with which they create their products. Working with ancient traditions they incorporate locally created Silk, which has a rich history in Cambodia. (Honestly, the process is beautiful, these worm are farmed and feast on organic mulberry leaves until their color changes. They then spin a cocoon that offers about 200 meters of silk thread). There is a lot of amazing social enterprises going on in Phnom Penh, I was inspired, and Khmer Creations is partnering with a couple of them. Both the clay beads and the timber pieces are created by other organizations that are hand-making their products and offering employment to those that are struggling or suffering from disabilities.
I spent an entire morning hanging out with Samnang and the artisans in their small workshop. I was making last minute changes and requests as they were sitting there beginning to create the order. They happily obliged and I can tell the stress level for the artisans is fairly low. I keep asking all the questions I have about what they want to do and build through this enterprise. It’s a friendly environment, small and intimate, with the 5 women sitting around a table, chatting as they work. Children come in and out, their daycare is upstairs and provided free, along with other benefits.
Their series are unique. They are simple in material and beautiful by design. Samnang is working hard to continually adapt more skills to better oversee projects and the organization as a whole. She is currently taking photography classes and working on expanding their designs, I enjoyed chatting with her about what she is working on next as they are constantly creating new products from the limited material they can sustainably source around them.
I hope you will take a minute to look at the artisan page, and take a moment to check out the marketplace and look at the hard work they are putting in to build a better future for them and their families.