Craftworks Cambodia was founded by Keang Sapbay, a Cambodian refugee who fled the country in 1984 during the Khmer Rouge Regime and later returned with the mission of helping home based artisans and marginalized citizens make a living through handicraft design. Artisans are trained to take salvaged materials and produce beautiful pieces (seen below) like the Bullet Casing Bangle and Bombshell Bangles. Hear Keang's insight on building a company that focuses on innovative design and ethical work practices.
What was the inspiration for using and designing pieces from bomb and bullet casings?
Keang: Brass jewelry from bombshells helps transform the scars of war into the beauty of peace. After two decades of war, one in every 250 Cambodians is disabled and the proportion of amputees - one in every 384 people - is the highest in the world.
The Cambodian countryside is littered with bomb casings. Craftsmen and women use the brass bombshells to create fashionable jewellery, statements for peace and environmental awareness. Our symbolic jewellery takes the scars of a country's horrific history and turns them into something beautiful while at the same time offering a more positive future for the artisans, who are often direct victims of landmines.
There is a strong statement of peace and environment for Cambodia. Cambodian people don't want or need to see war in Cambodia again. We would like to see our children go to schools, get a higher education, and better living.
The jewellery shows a creative reaction to violent conflict, a way of reminding us of the impressive strength that lies within so many.
How does Craftworks Cambodia recruit and partner with local artisans?
Craftworks Cambodia has recruited home based workers with disabilities, vulnerabilities, disadvantages and other producers who are living with HIV/AIDS. Most of home based workers are unable to access markets locally and internationally so Craftworks Cambodia has tried its best to help them find these markets.
What kind of impact is Craftworks Cambodia having on the local community?
Some of the positives of building a business include: employing more producers and paying fair wages, making sure workshops conform to occupational safety and health regulations, a reduced working schedule compared to the majority of the workforce in Cambodia, better living conditions for artisans, and growing partnerships with NGOs, associations, and buyers.