This article has originally been published on the Ethicalista blog, and is republished with permission.
Sometimes beautiful projects and products are the result of an intuition, a coincidence and a chance. This is probably the case of Smateria. When Elisa and Jennifer, both from Italy, met in Cambodia they had no business plan nor product development schedule, just good will and a vision: helping local women earning their living through their work.
Smateria was in Paris at Ethical Fashion Show to present their new collection of fashion accessories made with fishing nets, mosquitoes nets, recycled motorbike seats and crocheted plastic bags. A wide range of bags for men and women, beautiful and strong travel accessories including the best seller weekender bag.
Everything started in 2005 from few unique pieces created by Elisa with recycled materials and Jennifer asking if she thought about selling all those beautiful things. From the obvious answer “no” to the creation of Smateria, the step was quick. It was not easy to crate a recycled material supply chain from scratch. Work organization and exports knowledge needed to be built in order to cope with large orders that – lucky they were – immediately arrived.
Now, more then 50 people are regularly involved in production and exports, products are sold worldwide and – yesterday’s news – they just opened a daycare centre for their employee’s kids in their own premises. This shows how good products and good will can really make the difference and give a chance for a better life to artisans and their families.