I’ve been feeling incredibly thankful lately. Last year, I set out as a novice photographer, and somehow a bunch of clients trusted me to capture their beautiful selves and moments on camera. Some of these clients are really great social businesses seeking to improve lives through fair salaries, sustainable and ethical production, and a focus on vulnerable populations. I wanted to send some of that gratitude back with some client <3.
There is nuance to styling teddy bears and their stuffed animal gang. I didn’t know this until I started working with Monika and her team at Cambodia Knits. Over the past year, I’ve been working with this fantastic social enterprise that has a tiny office in Phnom Penh, but a big reach around the world. In 2009, Cambodia Knits was borne out of a love for the knit, and the realization of Cambodia’s long held tradition of producing hand made crafts, Founder, Monika Nowaczyk, also used it as a way to provide sustainable and fair income to marginalized communities in and around Phnom Penh.
And my favourite part: Cambodia Knits has a focus on female empowerment and believes in the powerful role of women to break intergenerational cycles of poverty when fair, flexible and sustained gainful employment is available. Since its inception, over 50 knitters, all of whom are above the age of 18, have been trained in the art of crochet and knitting to produce the cutest high quality little bed buddies, toys and other creations that can now be found in retailers in the Netherlands, Canada, Japan and Australia. Many of its knitters work from home, but Cambodia Knits also has a day care at its office (that it shares with Khmer Creations) and production site for their staff, some of whom are single moms, to bring their bubs to.
Most recently, I’ve been helping Monika and Cambodia Knits out with their Sleepy Snoogu campagin! Monika designed these cute little napping buddies out of her own experiences as a first-time mom. These guys are way cute, and they have an added benefit: the sale of each Sleepy Snoogu will also contribute towards a scholarship fund for the wonderful women who make them. The scholarship funds go towards supporting families to pay for all of the fees associated with sending their kids to school: uniforms, transportations, books. These are the extra costs that prevent many families from sending their kids to tuition-free public schools in Cambodia.
To get involved with this wonderful campaign, check out their Indiegogo platform, here.
Working with Cambodia Knits for this campaign was super fun, and a big learning curve! Styling these guys requires the ultimate light bulb moment (blankets!). And I now know that there was a lot of sweat and dirt that went into any advertising campaign that features a toddler with a product in hand (but it’s all worth it to get that shot). Let’s just say, I’m getting closer to becoming the toddler whisperer.
If you’re in Phnom Penh this weekend, come check out Sleepy Snoogus in person at Farm to Table! On Sunday, July 10, Cambodia Knits, and all of its ladies, will be there all morning, from 9am-11am for colouring, games and fun in the garden. Artisanal popsicles will also be available, if you need any other reason to go! More info here.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang for Cambodia Knits. Please request permission for use. We are not liable for any urges to cuddle with a plush toy.