Hi, i’m Solli !
As part of my textile studies in the Netherlands, I had to do an internship in my third year in order to link the theoretical knowledge with practice. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to go to South East Asia and to a country that produces the fashion we consume in the western world - a country where fashion has a completely different value than back home. I wanted to get more knowledge towards the impact of the fashion industry and learn more about terms like sustainability and ethics and the meaning behind them.
That was my plan. Realizing this plan was a different story.
While in Europe, you have plenty of offers you can choose from, it wasn’t the case for most companies in Asia. 40 applications and a handful of responses later, I was finally able to look forward to a life in Cambodia and work for GOOD KRAMA. Since it was my first time in South East Asia, I did not have a profound picture of the country except for things I learned through the media and stories I got told. Accordingly, I started the journey with a whole bunch of feelings. The general excitement of what may come was accompanied by an inner fear of the unknown. Shortly after my arrival though, I I lost my fears and I was ready to begin my journey.
I quickly settled in Phnom Penh, found a great group of friends and got used to the dynamics of the city and the structures of my work at GOOD KRAMA. During the time of my internship, I had the chance to get to know the company and all its aspects from sourcing fabrics to the production part to marketing activities. I attended most meetings we had with our fabric suppliers and workshop in Phnom Penh, whereby I was able to get to know the company really way. That is why it did not take really long for me to feel as part of the company, which was really important to me. While meeting with our fabric supplier Color Silk and visiting the weaving villages in the Takeo province, I became more aware of the value of high quality and hand woven fabrics as well as limitations you have to face when you do want things the right way. Next to that, I was sourcing dead stock fabrics from markets and shops around the city. Seeing these huge amounts of fabrics from surrounding garment factories was impressive and impact of the fashion industry became once again so real to me.
There is no doubt that the fashion industry in Cambodia as well as in many other countries, has to change profoundly. Being limited to the end of the production chain of cut, make and trim processes definitely restricts the potential of the industry as well as the workers involved in it. But what I have seen over the last year is that there are people who want to be part of a change. People who are ambitious and have a vision to improve and do things the right way. I learned that an innovative mind set is crucial. Reflecting on your actions and trying to work and do better is an ongoing process.
Overall, I can say that I experienced Cambodia as a beautiful country on many different levels. I saw great landscapes, met genuinely friendly and good people and I was happy to call it my home for the last year. I enjoyed the diverse tasks I had to accomplish at GOOD KRAMA and learned many things I did not expect to deal with at all.
Check out the super cool project my boss asked me to do before the end of the internship: my very own handwoven scarves. I designed these cotton scarves and witnessed the weaving process in person ! They are so soft and perfect for the upcoming winter I’m facing back in Europe...
If you are looking for your very own experience in Cambodia and an experience to learn all about the business of ethical fashion, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org