Co-owner of Cambodian Local Crafts
Eight years ago, I moved from my village in Kralanh Province to Siem Reap, where I attended the last two years of high school. In the city, schools are much better but, more importantly, here it is easier to find a job. I started selling Kroma scarves so that I could pay for my rent. I didn’t have to rely on my parents for money.
I left my job as a receptionist to start selling products from the villages in my province to wholesale merchants in the markets of Siem Reap. It was a very small business, but I kept running it once I finished school.
Four years ago, I bumped into Theiry, a old friend I went to school with. At the time she was working in a travel agency and thinking of starting her own bus company. I was sharing my concerns about how little the villagers were being paid, and I told her about my idea to start a fair-trade business. She was enthusiastic and decided to invest in this idea. This is how Cambodian Local Crafts was born.
Theiry and I started investing money to buy cotton for the villagers to weave. We support them whenever they need it, for example, if the loom needs to be repaired. Last year, we even started a program to teach them about new designs. In this way we get high quality products and the villagers receive a fair wage and the opportunity to improve their skills.
Right now, we are selling our products in different fair-trade markets in Siem Reap, as well as shipping them to different countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK. In this, AHA is essential: the seal of authenticity facilitates the process of shipping overseas and helps to promote the authenticity of our products. I also strongly believe in AHA’ values: I love the products from my province and here we work hard to promote Cambodian crafts.
Our business is still new so I am very busy but in the future, I want to find time to learn how to weave. It will be way easier to work on the designs and the colours once I understand the process. I also hope we will find a place in the city centre, where we can open our own shop – right now we don’t have enough space to stock all our products!