The Artisans: Silk & Up-Cycled

Since the 1980's Cambodia has been a peaceful, developing country, after the dark history of the Khmer Rouge, yet still 30% of the population lives in poverty (less than $1.25/day). Talis pays its artisans and crafts people fairly and equitably for their skillful work. The tailors are paid more than double the average wage of garment factory workers in Cambodia, and are ultimately provided with a working environment that is safe, supportive and upholds strict labour standards.

The artisans are generally individuals who have been rescued from the garment factory industry, are disabled, or come from backgrounds where poverty has limited their opportunities. Many are home-based, and/or community-based, allowing them to raise their children while earning an income for themselves and their families - livelihoods rooted in dignity, as opposed to charity.

Talis works with four producer groups in Cambodia. Each have in common a fair trade social mission. They are all members of Artisans Association of Cambodia, which is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. http://wfto.com/

One of our producers, disabled by a landmine as a child, trained as a seamstress and then as a store manager, and eventually went on to start her own small business. Feeling strongly about supporting others like her, she invited women and men disabled by landmines to live, eat and work communally in her business.

Another producer currently has 8 women and 2 men that make up the talented team of tailors, across 2 workshops in Phnom Penh.
All artisans receive the highest quality professional training and are provided with accommodation if needed. All tailors have come from vulnerable situations, where they have been faced with inequality or disadvantage in some form.

The Cambodian artisanal sector is under increasing threat from outside pressures. Cambodia is now seen as one of the latest cheap-labour garment manufacturing zones, resulting in the increase of large factories, which bus in thousands of young male and female employees, moving them away from their families.

The villages become gradually depleted of the next-generation producers, who might otherwise have followed the traditional occupations of their parents. It is more important than ever to raise awareness of the great richness that exists in the artisanal sector in Cambodia, in the hopes of creating a firmer market for these unique and desirable products, so that the artisans may continue to work in their traditional areas, and to be adequately compensated for the very skillful work that they do.

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