At Kravan House we train and employ Cambodians who make beautiful things from fabric. All our employees have some form of physical disability, regardless they are highly skilled craftspeople. It can take a very long time to get proficiency at handicrafts. Tasks are allocated according to capability and many are shared, newcomers learn simple things like making silk covered beads first. Some of the staff who have been with us for years have achieved master status and train new people for us and other employers. Kravan House operates a small workshop in Phnom Penh and also sources crafts from artisans who practice traditional techniques in their homes and provinces. The workforce is as diverse as the products and includes weavers, sewers, printers and jewellery makers. The total number of artisans who earn livelihoods from Kravan House is around 70.
In 2015 Kravan House set up a small workshop in Phnom Penh just north of the CBD. It’s a hub of productivity with only 10 very busy sewing (modified) machines and each day up to 15 people work onsite. Others visit to pick up fabric and notions and then return the finished product. A number of Phnom Penh based craftspeople, especially those with high skill levels, work from home and visit the workshop intermittently.
The workshop focuses on produces accessories, mainly bags and purses. The range changes according to the order. Finished stock is sent to the Phnom Penh store, wholesaled around Cambodia and internationally.
At the shop in Riverside, Phnom Penh, you will meet two young women Danny and Salat who have been working with Kravan House for some years. Thanan works between the workshop and the retail outlet.
Originally all staff worked from home, their disabilities often constrained their movement and it was easiest to work from home. Weavers continue to work from home on their own looms set up under their elevated homes.
Mr Run Cheak lost his leg and one of his eyes from stepping on a landmine in 2003, his hearing was also damaged. He was a farmer and with such an extensive disability that made working on the land difficult he decided to retrain and joined the Kravan House team. He is extremely skilful and specialises in making Messenger Bags. His wife is also employed by Kravan House, she contracted polio as a child and despite limited mobility she is a talented craftsperson.