Smateria was established in Cambodia in 2006 by two Italian friends, Elisa and Jennifer. While Elisa's creativity flows in the unique product designs, Jennifer keeps the expanding business running successfully with her keen business savvy. Smateria transforms recycled and repurposed materials into gorgeous new fashion accessories by mixing Italian design and Khmer craftsmanship.
Smateria’s philosophy is to use materials that already exist, or that have already been used and create a whole new world of new perceptions and imagination. With this comes a keen eco-friendly message implying that you can of course look beautiful without being wasteful.
Smateria is a self-financed social enterprise that employs both able bodied and disabled people. In just four years, the business has grown from five to fifty employees and has had to change to new premises to accomodate its growth three times. All Smateria employees are contracted in accordance with International Labour Law and operate under fair trade principles. 85% of Smateria's employees are young women between the ages of 20 and 30.
Smateria outsources much of the handiwork required to produce Smateria products to the family members of their staff. Basic training is offered to the family members for free and sewing machines are provided on a rent to own agreement. The cost of the machines is repaid to Smateria in monthly instalments free of interest. Recently Smateria also opened a Daycare Centre at its new premises for the children of its workers to be looked after in a safe and educational environment.