Home Cambodia Kang Sok Samnang – Creating Cambodia’s Women Artisans

Kang Sok Samnang – Creating Cambodia’s Women Artisans

Kang Sok Samnang is the co-founder of Cambodian Creations – a fair trade shop curating creative designs from talented Cambodian artisans.

We chatted with Samnang recently.

Please tell us what Cambodian Creations do.

Samnang:  Cambodian Creations is a fair trade shop curating creative designs from talented Cambodian artisans and bringing socially conscious products to the local Phnom Penh community and international travelers.

We are a collaboration between established social enterprises Cambodia Knits, Khmer Creations and Fairweave. Our goal is to produce beautiful, high quality and unique hand-made products while providing fair and flexible employment opportunities.

How does this help underprivileged women in Cambodia?

Samnang: It is very important 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.

We employ single mothers and female heads of households where they are paid above market wages with health and child care benefits. We are committed to the personal and professional development of our artisans and opportunities help empower marginalized communities to find a way out of poverty, especially when their work is fairly paid and helps to address the challenges they face.

How do you ensure ethical treatment of your workers and also create a sustainable production process at the same time?

Samnang: We are committed to the personal and professional development of our artisans. We provide training in technical and 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.

Our business operations are guided by the 10 principles of Fair Trade endorsed by the World Fair Trade Organization. By setting higher standards of wages based on a living wage in Phnom Penh, providing health care coverage, child care facilities and a safe and rewarding work environment we are not only impacting the lives of our staff but the communities around us.

What are your standards of quality when it comes to the materials and execution of your designs?

Samnang: Our on-trend, contemporary designs stand out in a market filled with mass-produced products. Our collection has been expanded and refined over many years of testing in export and domestic markets. New products are developed by our team in Cambodia and in Australia.

What would you say has been your biggest hurdle? And what are you most proud of about Cambodian Creations?

Samnang: Our biggest hurdle would be transferring the handcrafting and designing skills to our producers, especially when they are facing some family issues at home which could affect their productivity in the workplace, and of course, finding a new markets to promote our new collection can be very challenging too.

Despite all those hardships, we have successfully provided more jobs to women in our community, and present their artworks to the public and at Cambodian Creations.

What makes me proud of Cambodian Creations is the fact that we are able to attain financial independence and present the work and skills of Cambodian people through other fair trade businesses that are being sold at our shop. Also, Cambodian Creations play a major role in supporting locally and ethically made products which are produced in Cambodia.

Samnang, please tell us about yourself, your background and what led you to where you are now?

Samnang: I am 36 years old. I am very passionate about my work. I love to create new things and bring it forward. I also like to share it with people around me. I used to be a part-time career consultant and held workshops for job training as a teacher before. Then I wanted to find a full-time job to better support my family and a job that would also allow me to better express my will to help.  I learned a lot after coming here.

What personal experiences have you had that have made you care about your impact?

Samnang: I grew up in an unstable environment. Seeing the hardships that me, my family, and the people around me had to go through made me realize that I need to do something to fix it in order to bring more benefit to the people around me. I want them to live in a better condition and have the utmost flexibility and freedom to do what their hearts’ desire.

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Speaking of hard work, how do you balance running Cambodian Creations with other projects and also your personal life?

Samnang: Managing two projects at the same time is not an easy job. As a Managing Director at Khmer Creations and the Co-Founder at Cambodian Creations, I have to clearly divide my schedules and attention for each job. Of course, I have to be very flexible with my roles in order to fulfill the requirement needed at Khmer Creations and Cambodian Creations.

What inspires you as a creative woman and which figure do you look up to for inspiration?

Samnang: I would give the credit to my mother since I have learned those skills from her. She is a very hardworking woman and very diligent in her work too. Furthermore, my family and my team at Khmer Creations is the main reason I work hard. I want to support them more and help them to grow in this complicated city. I always think about them whenever I am feeling down. Think about them has made me realized that I can do more for them.

As a woman entrepreneur, what do you think is the most significant obstacle to women’s leadership?

Samnang: I think the heart is the significant obstacle to women’s leadership. It is widely known that women, in general, are guided by their emotions, and I personally use my heart to lead people, which can have both good and bad results.

What advice can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Samnang: My advice to other aspiring women entrepreneurs is to do as your heart says, but remember to always remain professional and rational when managing a business. The business world is full of surprises and you will never know what is coming next even after years of running it. So use your heart to lead you, but always plan ahead and be cautious in the process. Do not be afraid of failure and always get up and start again until you succeed.

You can visit Cambodian Creations at http://www.cambodiancreations.com/

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