I found CWSG (Cambodian Women’s Support Group) online, when I was looking for suppliers for my shop. In the beginning, I was just looking to purchase products off the shelf from the group, but as we got to know each other, I soon realized that I wanted to expand the level of collaboration to also include design development for my own brand.
Fair Fashionista - Sanne
Weavers Project was started by the social enterprise Sonas World with the purpose of creating sustainable economic growth in rural communities in Cambodia. Cambodia has a strong tradition of weaving, but it is a dying craft due to the competition from cheaper, factory-made fabric as well as the declining interest among the young generation of learning the skills of weaving.
Silk is such a beautiful and versatile material, and I knew from the beginning, that I wanted to sell silk products in my shop, but when I was looking for suppliers, I was shocked to find out how silk is typically made. Did you know that the traditional way to produce silk is to boil the cocoons with the silkworms inside? Many hundreds of silkworms are boiled alive, just to make one scarf. That seemed unnecessary to me, so I started looking for alternative ways of making silk, and I found out about peace silk/ahimsa silk.
Peace silk is made without harming the silkworms, which are allowed to hatch and become butterflies. It takes longer time and it is a more expensive process, but no butterflies die in the process which is why peace silk is also called non-violent silk.
I source the silk for my products from Cocccon, which is a German Indian venture. All the silk is certified organic, and instead of chemicals and pesticides they have developed a mix of traditional medical herbs to fight harmful insects and fungus. The silkworms feed on mulberry leaves, so in order to keep the worms safe from outside enemies, the mulberry trees are covered with big nets.
The silk production takes place in Jharkand, which is a region in the northeastern part of India. By providing the local population with employment in safe, clean surroundings at a fair salary, Coccon helps to fuel much-needed economic growth in the region.
For a long time, I had been looking for a fair fashion clothing supplier, and man, did I kiss a lot of frogs along the way. I had almost given up, when Paul from Weavers Project in Takeo suggested that I got in touch with fashion designer Mr. Alan James Flux at A.N.D. Artisan Designer in Phnom Penh.
If you want an authentic, very local experience in Phnom Penh, you should try a homestay with Kanary from CWSG and her sweet family. I think Kanary’s homestay is in fact one of the only real homestays in Phnom Penh, because if you look online, most of the advertised homestays are more like guesthouses with many guest rooms and external staff to take care of the guests.