Atelier Etica is an artisan-driven silk loungewear brand based in Queensland, Australia. Designed with luxury lovers in mind, all Atelier Etica items are created ethically in Cambodia. The stories they bring are about empowerment and strength, as well as beauty and travel. When you wrap yourself in soft Atelier Etica silk, you won’t just feel good, you've also done good in the life of another person.
Atelier Etica pieces are made with silk that has been handwoven and hand dyed. Silk has been interwoven in Cambodian history since the 13th century. The Khmer Rouge all but destroyed the sector, but after intensive efforts by the global community, it has slowly come back. It is a tiny sector of the economy, but an important one because it is predominantly woven in homes in remote rural communities.
Between 66% to 87% of the silk workforce are women. A significant number of these women are landmine or polio victims, people with disabilities, victims of human trafficking, widows and orphans. The US State Department reports that Cambodia is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. The sale of virgin women and children in Cambodia is a continual problem. Poverty makes people vulnerable - engaging them in a high value add sector, such as silk weaving, reduces their risk of being taken advantage of.
I've sought out production partners who care about their sewers and weavers, and who provide fair wages, training and a working environment that enriches their lives. This matters because nothing is beautiful if it comes at the expense of another person.
10% of all Atelier Etica sales (and 25% of face mask sales) are donated to Human and Hope Association. HHA is a social enterprise in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which was established to empower the most needy people in the community. Through projects focussed on education, community development and vocational training, HHA help keep women and children safe and healthy by giving them skills to earn income.
These are the incredible people in Cambodia who make all the gorgeous pieces for Atelier Etica. Check them out and look them up:
- Garment makers: FAIR SEW
Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Fairsew is an ethical garment manufacturer that values employees by providing a safe working environment, offering remuneration well above minimum levels for Cambodian garment workers, and the opportunity for further learning and skill development. Fairsew is conscious of the environmental effects of the fashion industry and actively minimises wastage, recycles fabrics, and avoids the use of toxic materials where possible.
- Silk suppliers: KRAVAN HOUSE
Kravan House was formed in Phnom Penh by Hok Thanan to support, train and employ disabled Cambodian artisans. Kravan House means Silk Blossom House, which symbolises the hope they give to their workers. Workers are empowered through the provision of meaningful employment, training, fair wages, good working conditions and career opportunities. Hok Thanan works with silk weavers and dyers in the Takeo province of Phnom Penh to create beautiful tie-dyed silk for Atelier Etica. As a young woman with a disability from birth herself, Hok Thanan, found it extremely frustrating to be discriminated against and she was the first Cambodian person to establish an independent social enterprise for disabled artisans.
- Blanket weavers and silk mask makers: FAIRWEAVE
Established by Chomnab Ho in 2013, Fairweave works with local Cambodian artisans to create uniquely beautiful handwoven textiles using traditional skills in an ethical environment. Fairweave works to empower women through weaving and craft to generate fair income in a safe working environment. Offering unique, handwoven heirloom blankest, each piece is signed with the name of the woman who wove it. Fairweave allows weavers and craftswomen from rural communities to better understand small family business management, entrepreneurship and fairtrade practices.
- NGO partner: HUMAN AND HOPE ASSOCIATION
Human and Hope Association (HHA) was established, and is run by Cambodians to reduce poverty in Siem Reap. HHA know from international research, and their own experience, that women are incredible agents for change in their communities. They offer a vocational sewing program to classes of 12 women per year to provide them with a skill that allows the women to earn income to lift their families out of poverty. Of the 68 women who have completed HHA's sewing program over the past seven years: 37 have started their own businesses; 31 are employed by commercial manufacturers; 16 have built new homes and 10 are currently employed by HHA to sew 5000 fabric face masks to help prevent COVID infections in 1000 families most at need. Atelier Etica work with HHA sewing graduates who create the hand-loomed cotton travel bags that come with Atelier Etica silk robes.
- Espadrilles: AMBOH
Atelier Etica silk striped espadrilles are hand-made from hand-loomed silk by AMBOH in Phnom Penh. All AMBOH espadrilles are made using eco-friendly materials such as natural jute sole and natural silk fabrics which allows AMBOH to be sustainable and not harmful for the environment. Importantly, ethical values apply to all AMBOH employees and their working conditions. The idea is not just to comply with local regulations, but to offer good working conditions, fair salaries and a vision to building lasting long-term relationships with their staff.
- Packing: HERO PACKAGING
All Atelier Etica products are posted in Hero packaging mailing pouches, which are certified 100% home compostable. If they happen to end up in landfill they will still break down with no waste!
Roxane Horton xx
Founder/ Owner of Atelier Etica