Khmer Creation creates long-term employment opportunities for women who have previously been working in exploitative jobs. Buying jewelry from Khmer Creation can bring change and opportunity to the women making it, and joy to the buyer. Shop their collection today.
What drove you to start your business?
Khmer Creations (KC) was founded in 2007 with a vision to develop a creative business that would tangibly benefit Cambodian women and their communities. What started as therapeutic jewelry making workshops in shelters for sex trafficked women quickly became a business creating sustainable employment.
KC was established to assist women wanting to leave the sex industry and unregulated factory work by providing skills training and secure employment. Our aim is to create training and employment in a supportive and safe working environment through a viable social business. By doing this, we aim to create employment opportunities for young women who have previously been working in exploitative jobs and those that are at-risk of entering these industries due to lack of education and opportunities.
Who are your employees or your artisans?
Young urban women living in Phnom Penh. Khmer Creations exists to empower women to actively improve and take control of their lives. We believe in and advocate for, the rights of women to engage equally in society and to live a life that is free from fear, violence, and exploitation. Our studio primarily employs single mothers and female heads of households where they are paid above market wages with health and childcare benefits.
How did you find them?
All of our current artisans joined our team while we were running workshops at a local shelter run by a Cambodian NGO.
What do they mean to you?
Everything! They are the business! Without our amazingly talented artisans we would not exist, both because of their wonderful skills but also because they are the reason and motivation for our business.
What made you decide to start producing ethically?
There was no question of producing otherwise. We set out to create an ethical business that supported and enabled women. Our aim was to create a sustainable business as a way of improving the lives of urban young women in Phnom Penh.
What impact has your business had on your community?
All profit from the sales of our products is invested back into the operation of the business. This enables us to improve our raw material supply chain and increase wages annually for our staff. We hope to one day be able to pay annual profits to each of our staff on top of their existing wages and bonuses.
We are committed to the personal and professional development of our artisans. We provide training in technical jewelry-making techniques as well as business management skills, personal development and financial literacy, teamwork and leadership, production management, quality control, and ethical and fair trade practices.
The most tangible impact is that we have provided is ongoing employment to our artisans, enabling them to leave exploitative work, start families, raise children and return to work to maintain their financial independence.
What was the most difficult part of starting and running your business?
Starting out was not as hard as growing the business is proving to be. We started with a very small donation from friends and family. We have the general day to day business struggles – managing people, skills gaps and acquiring new skills (English language, computer skills, accounting, marketing and sales, and business development).
Our biggest challenge though is accessing local raw materials. We try to use as many raw materials as we can from local sources, but many jewelry making materials are not accessible in Cambodia. This difficulty has also led to some innovative uses of other materials such as cutlery, metal plumbers’ washers, reclaimed timber, garment offcuts; making our products what they are today.
What has been the most rewarding outcome of your business?
The people and seeing them grow individually, as a friendship group and with their own families. Also being part of the social enterprise and ethical fashion movement in Cambodia from early on has been exciting. We have seen consumer habits change during our 10+ years in operation and that is rewarding and mostly encouraging.
What is your company’s mission?
Our mission is to create sustainable, empowering employment opportunities for young women and to follow, promote and advocate for ethical practices in the fashion industry.