Krama & Co - A Social Enterprise
A big part of what I love about product styling is all the super interesting and talented people I get to work with and learn about along the way. This is why I want to feature some of my amazing clients so you can learn about them too and see what I mean when I say they are some talented and interesting humans.
First up is Krama & Co (pronounced crow-ma), an inspiring business influencing the lives of girls and women in Cambodia by working towards better education and opportunities. Having read a lot about the rule of the Khmer Rouge and having been to the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh myself I can relate to Beck's feelings about Cambodia. The Khmer people are genuinely some of the friendliest and cheerful people I have met despite their recent horrific history and current economy and I just love the initiative of Krama & Co and everything they represent.
So without further ado, meet Beck from Krama and Co...
Tell us a little about you...
I am a mother of two girls Mae, 6, and Ruby, 4. My husband and I both originally come from Mt Somers and both come from a farming background. After leaving school I trained to be a social worker and worked with primary school aged children mainly up until I left to have my eldest daughter around 7 years ago.
Tell us about Krama & Co...
Krama & Co. is a social enterprise in that we are a business that does good. We try to do good at every step of the way hence our slogan ‘good goods for good’. We buy krama directly off weavers in rural villages in Cambodia. We pay them well and for every krama we buy we put $1 into what we call a ‘village fund’. The weavers work with Nita to decide what to do with their village with it. So far we have paid for one of our partner charities to send a medical team of 3 doctors and 2 nurses out to the village for an entire day. On those days around 50 people were seen. It also is a lovely day for the villagers to get together and is essentially managed by Nita and the weavers. I believe it is far more empowering to run it this way as the weavers are skilled craftswomen that are giving back to their community and not charity cases. In addition to this we have partner charities that we support. This means we try and bring them into our work, make charitable donations and promote them on social media and when we are out speaking about what we do.
What made you want to sell Krama?
My husband and I went to Cambodia in early 2010 after which we planned to go home and start our family. Going to Cambodia was devastating. We learned of the atrocities the Khmer (Cambodian people) suffered under the Khmer Rouge. To this day I am still bought to tears when I think of the tree I stood in front of that was used to kill children by way of holding them by their feet and swinging them so their head hit the tree. As a social worker I thought I had seen some of the harder parts of life but this was completely devastating to see.
As we continued our trip I was amazed by how lovely the Khmer people were and how ingenious they were. I kept seeing people using what I later learnt was a krama. On the day I came up with the idea I was on the bamboo railway and saw a woman using a krama as a bike seat. In that instant I could see I could use the krama to help women and hence their children in Cambodia. I could use the krama to raise funds and use the platform of the business to raise awareness about Cambodia and celebrate the ingenuity of the krama. What I later learnt was that krama have 60 different uses and are the national symbol of Cambodia. Some of the uses include a hat, towel, baby sling, sunshade, as a form of weaponry in martial arts and so many more.
What do customers get when they purchase a Krama? (who are they supporting)
They are supporting our weavers directly, they are helping to continue the craft of weaving, they are part of a celebration of Khmer ingenuity, they support our weaver’s villages and with profits going to education for girls and opportunities for women via our partner charities they are supporting charities that are supporting NZ registered charities that are making a difference. Our partner charities are Home and Family Society, The Cambodia Charitable Trust, Flame Cambodia and One to One.
What is it that you love the most about Krama and Co?
That our weavers are able to earn an income whilst still being able to look after their children.
Have you got any advice for people interested in shopping more ethically?
It is vital that we create a demand for ethical clothing. From a supply and demand standpoint if we demand ethical the makers will supply it. People need to try and buy Fair Trade from local makers. The Good on You App is a good one to download to learn more. It costs more because people are getting paid more and is better for our planet. The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter so my rule is when I buy new it is ethical and everything else I buy second hand.
Have you got any biz tips you’ve found useful to share with other women in business?
Get yourself out there and network and get a business mentor. It's hard work so make sure you love what you are doing, do your research before and use services such as Ministry of Awesome.
Where can we find you?