One of the goals of our work is to create a more sustainable way of doing business in a way that feels good to everyone involved. We have our little team that we cherish and look after in studio spaces, our own production centre in Cambodia and lots of other people around the world hand crafting products with us or adding to our education & research.
We establish genuine, and real-life (away from the internet!) relationships with everyone we work with. Everywhere we develop products we have likely spent years working or living before, or in neighboring areas. We firmly believe in happy, relaxed and flexible work environments and are ensuring we create these wherever we have staff working, no matter the country.
Fair for everyone
There is no point creating businesses that harm our environment, or negatively impact or exploit people. Any time we do this we are not contributing to an equal world. We want to make beautiful & sustainable products that people cherish, so that we can establish an alternative model of working in this industry, and support our research and education projects. We benefit from the work of everyone involved and think this should therefore feel fair for everyone who works with us. We’re conscious that the more we grow, the more we can do, the more we can increase salaries to change lives and give back in this space; it’s one of the most exciting aspects!
At our centre in Cambodia, we’re doing things differently. Generally this industry is fraught with issues from harsh working environments, exceptionally low wages, long working weeks and motor vehicle accidents to and from work. Any focus on the industry usually goes to the city areas so we decided to do something in a rural village. We don’t believe in having to reinvent the wheel so we worked with a local business that required a lot of help. To that end, we established the centre where the women only work with us. There are no other customers and demands, it’s not a manufacturing factory, and we’re on the ground often, sometimes for months at a time, so we’re able to create a happy workspace. We ask everyone what they need to make their lives and jobs better and we try to make it happen wherever possible. Working here is like working in a casual studio. Everyone benefits from:
- Salaries above industry standard (and well above minimum wage)
- Salary-based pay only (not pay-per-goods produced quotas which is how most other businesses operate). What we get done we get done, and what we don’t can be done another day. There is no pressure and no numbers set at all.
- 7.5 hour working days with a 2 hour lunch break Monday to Friday (not 7 day weeks with 10 – 12 hours per day as per standard)
- Breaks whenever needed for food (we regularly stop the sandwich man on his way past for a mid-morning snack!)
- Updated machines (or new ones replacing manual labor). We love handmade and don’t support mass scale machine manufacturing, but not everything has to be so hard. Instead of wringing coconuts with their hands for oil for example, we purchased a small device to make this a lot easier to do. No more blisters and hours spent sweltering in the heat! The sewing machines were out of date and made stitching on some of our products extremely laborious so we bought new ones (that are second-hand from Japan) that did the job a lot better. Sanding coconuts is no fun at all so we made sure all the equipment was in place before we went ahead with this and now it’s an easy job with music. Makes everyone happier and more satisfied with their work.
- 3 months maternity leave
- Health insurance
- Transport accident insurance
- Skills training
- Clean drinking water station & local snacks provided
- Play area for kids so they can come visit & hang out or be fed and looked after
- Garden area, free herbs to take home and plants
- Free new pads (we have reusable washable ones) whenever needed
- No burning plastics! We pay for the big filtered water bottles that are picked up, swapped for full ones and reused (we have no running water where we work). We have provided containers for take-away food to use. We set up a lunch table and have plates and cutlery for food from home or local vendors. Burning plastics damages health and is not a nice activity; we don’t want anyone to feel they have to do this so we reduce our plastics as much as humanly possible, recycle everything we can and appropriately dispose of what we have left if we do.
- An organized space that’s clean, has structure and is easy to work in.
A better model
We’re determined to create a happy, satisfying and relaxed work environment. Our studios outside of Cambodia are beautiful little work spaces fitted out with everything we need, lots of good music and plenty of days where work can also be completed from the couch (because kids holidays can be stressful and periods, and sometimes life, can suck and should include tea and Netflix!). We provide flexible working hours to all staff, and believe in personal responsibility without any micro management alongside valuing creative input, process improvement and ideas. We know we can always do better. We also believe in really good dinners, city breaks in well designed hotels and trips to conservation sanctuaries.
In Cambodia we’re hoping our centre will become a small scale example that local and foreign companies can also work toward. We want to be a leader in providing much better working conditions for employees even when you’re limited by your location (like us in a rural area), access to labor skills and assets (there isn’t much out here to buy!) and funds (this was all funded by us personally).
We are always seeking to make things even better and improve. Supporting us means we get to do this for people around the world whether in UK, Europe, Australia or Cambodia and that makes us feel pretty darn special.