Impact Stroll Explores Sustainable Fashion in Phnom Penh

by Kosoma Kim

Taking place twice a year, Impact Stroll is a whole day tour program taking young Cambodian students to learn, engage and inspired directly by the founder of successful social enterprises in Cambodia. In a collaboration with Fashion Revolution, a global campaign calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry, Impact Stroll Vol 4 for Sustainable Fashion was designed to be unique and remarkable.

With a mixture of presentations at the Hub and tours of the shops and workshops, our 6 sustainable enterprises presented their business models, their products and how they are making a sustainable impact on Cambodia's garment industry which accounts for 80% of the country's total exports. We learned a lot about the positive changes that they are trying to bring to women's lives and how they are adding value to Cambodian fabrics and designs. Here are the social enterprises that helped us open our minds to sustainable fashion:

SUSU


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Let’s meet Kenta Aoki, the founder of SUSU. He started working in Cambodia 19 years ago. When the project was finished, Kenta decided to stay in Cambodia and started doing something that challenging himself while giving the benefits to women in Cambodia. That was when SUSU was born. SUSU brand was named on handmade products made by at risk women in Kchass Village, Siem Reap. On the same page with SUSU, those women have received professional skills training that enable them to create an remarkable and high quality products which eighty percents of their creators was exported to abroad. In addition, SUSU provides a good care to their staffs and their families via various programs such as Meal Provision, Kid’s Care Center, Literacy Education, Saving System and Career Counselling.

Visit Susu' Website
Visit Cambodian Living Arts' Facebook Page
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Color Silk


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Based in seven villages in Takeo province and working with 450 weavers and 170 women trainees, Color Silk engages very closely with local women to build the enterprise right into their homes. Recognising that children need love and care by staying close to their parents, Color Silk have set a mission to reduce the number of women immigration while enabling them to make a good income from the traditional weaving skills that they have. The family is also trained and supported to grow mulberry to earn an extra income to the family. Vanntha Ngorn, the founder of Color Silk said that the silk products, made from love and care women from Takeo, were sold in the country and exported to European countries, Japan, US,.etc which accounts for 80% of their total products.

Visit Color Silk's Website
Visit Color Silk's Facebook Page
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Lotus Silk


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We got a very warm welcome from Ms. Vannay San, the founder and designer of Lotus Silk and her team after travelling through the busy streets to their shop. The story of Lotus Silk began in 2005. The founder embarked on a mission to develop a simple, in-house store workshop that would work towards an ethical industry through the empowerment of women by promoting hand crafted items. Lotus Silk supports sustainable practices using natural fibers such as silk and cotton. Lotus Silk's vision is to see Cambodia free of socio-economic imbalance by going back to the basics, and to be known as the top company in producing eco-friendly and ethical fashion products.

Visit Lotus Silk's Website
Lotus Silk's Facebook Page

By 12:00pm. Everyone seemed to be hungry and exhausted after 1.1km walk under 35° sunny day and 3 workshops. The struggle still went on. We had to walk for extra 700 meters and ended up having Khmer Burger for lunch at Song Tra Ice Cream. Yummy!
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A.N.D


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With our stomachs full from lunch, we walked to A.N.D to meet its co-founder and designer James Alan Flux. When James first came to Cambodia as a volunteer 8 years ago, he didn’t expect that he would be standing here today as a fashion consultant. A small fair-trade brand, sewing studio and fashion shop, A.N.D works with local artisans to blend design development with traditional skills. The signature fabric at A.N.D is a pure hand-woven cotton ikat [a traditional woven textile], which comes from 60 to 70 farming families in Takeo who weave as a supplementary income. James now has a dream of building an affordable fashion school in Cambodia in the future. WOW!

Visit A.N.D's Facebook Page

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Kool As U

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We continue the walk to meet Mr. Kosal Ou, the Cambodian founder and designer of Kool As U sewing studio. Kosol graduated in Finance Degree and was working in garment factory in Cambodia producing many well known international brands. After a few years, Kosal was transferred to join in a production team which is when Kosal realised Cambodian people are also skillful and have a lot of potential. He started Kool As U in 2014, as a brand of women and men's casual wear showcasing the good quality of Cambodian-made clothing to the world. At KOOL AS U, you can customise clothing to fit all sizes and enjoy delivery service to anywhere in the world.

Visit Kool As U's Facebook Page
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Penh Lenh


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We had to admit that walking 3.5km to Toul Tom Pung was a mission impossible for the tired legs of 24 folks, so TUKTUK was the best answer. After 11 minutes on TUKTUK we were finally reached Penh Lenh, the last social enterprise of the day. Met the charming founder of Penh Lenh, Rachel Donson who introduced us to Penh Lenh's handicraft jewel shop. Rachel also shared Penh Len's mission to empower marginalized and at-risk young women in Cambodia so that they have the opportunity to pursue their life goals through quality education, vocational training, and advanced career opportunities.

Visit Penh Lenh's Website
Visit Penh Lenh's Facebook Page

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“The social enterprises that we visited had very interesting business models and missions. I loved learning that what they are doing is improving the lives of women, children and people with disabilities in Cambodia.“ - Phorn Phannadavid