This post was written by Raven + Lily’s Operations Manager, Cameron Crake, on her way back from her recent trip to visit our partnership in Cambodia.
I’ve worked for Raven + Lily for about a year and a half now, and this trip to Cambodia was my first chance to interact with the women behind our products. It was such a good experience to get to visit the workshops in Phnom Penh to meet them, but also to get a feel for the culture of Cambodia itself.
Over one of the weekends we spent in Cambodia, Lori and I ventured to Siem Reap to see the beauty of the ancient temples.
We rode tuk tuks from temple to temple, spending hours exploring the ruins. It was amazing to see this piece of Cambodian history up close.
But without a doubt, my favorite part of the trip was spending at least half of every day in the workshop.
Most days we would greet the bustling ladies as we walked in and then we spend the majority of the day meeting with Rachel and Anneliese, the wonderful women who founded and manage the workshop. We had many conversations about their vision for the workshop and the women who are employed with them. They are taking huge steps to make their workshop a professional, healthy working environment and to increase efficiency by pouring into their staff.
Right now they are set up in three different workshops across Phnom Penh, and want to continue planting small workshops across the city as they grow so they can keep the small and friendly working environment that they currently have.
I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of the women and hear firsthand how their lives have changed since they began employment at the sewing workshop. One woman, Srey Keo, had worked in a local garment factory and was able to tell me about the stark contrast our partner workshop offers to that kind of harsh working environment.
The women take such pride in their work. Most of them come from rough backgrounds and difficult circumstances, so a job like this actually changes their lives. Not only are they paid a higher wage than the typical garment worker in Cambodia, but they also receive care and investment that you would not see in a garment factory. Another woman I interviewed, Raiksmey, had started as a seamstress and has now worked her way up to being the head pattern-maker.
I loved every minute I spent in Cambodia and feel so privileged to work in partnership with these amazing, beautiful women!