cait +tiff


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C + T + Good Krama

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Remember that little piece we did on Good Krama last week? Well, we are partnering with the team over there to host a pop-up shop this Saturday at La Familia‘s gorgeous outpost, La Casita.

The pop up will feature the new collection from Good Krama, including some pieces that we haven’t even seen yet! Per usual, the team at La Casita will be serving up delicious custom cocktails and there will be complimentary small bites, courtesy of Artillery.

The party starts at 4pm and wraps up around 8. Show up early for the best availability and sizes, and best chance at food and drinks before C+T tag team and eat it all. There will even been a lucky draw with fantastic prizes, so you are going to want to get in on that as well.

Details for the event:

Saturday, May 7th 2016

La Casita (street 244, corner street 240 1/2)

4pm-8pm

We hope to see you all there! Let us know if you have any questions, all are welcome!

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run away to the circus!

Tiffany TsangSo Cait ran off to Hanoi this week but Tiff’s still in town and she’s off to the circus!  We were so lucky when the peeps over at the wonderful arts and culture NGO, Phare Ponleu Selpak, got in touch with us to join all their fun under the tentpoles.  That meant we found ourselves watching the Tini Tinou circus practice their flippies and their juggles yesterday morning! The contemporary circus is known as one of the best in Asia, and together with troupes from Canada, Indonesia, Afghanistan, France and Australia, they’re in Phnom Penh this weekend!  Tiff’s seen them a couple of times now and can definitely say this is a show you cannot miss.

Catch all of their performances at the Chenla Theater this weekend.  Tickets are still available (prices range from $10-20 for adults) and you can get them at The Willow Boutique Hotel and Music Arts School.

Tiffany Tsang


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Or we might have to shoot you out of a cannon.


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T / from the maddened crowd

Smart-Concert---HeaderI often find myself thriving from the energy others. Crowds are even better.  Match that with one of the biggest concerts to hit Cambodia this year (or ever), a couple of top notch artists (one of whom was designed and styled by Cait) and a crowd of young Cambodians just rocking it out, .  I’m there like a vampire.  So this past Saturday at the Jessie J and Laura Mam concert hosted by SMART mobile, I found myself in the crowds.  And in these situations, I can never really stand still.  So with my cammy cam in hand, I started wandering, trying to capture some of that energy and all the excitement.  When I first arrived in Cambodia eight years ago, an event of this magnitude was unheard of.  A Western artist?  They could only be pulled in by acts of charity and some noble cause. That happened once. A decade later, the youth of Cambodia, a majority of the population, are emerging as a force in media markets. The record companies are listening.   And fun and selfie sticks will be had by all.Smart-Concert---01 Smart-Concert---02 Smart-Concert---03 Smart-Concert---04 Smart-Concert---05 Smart-Concert---06 Smart-Concert---07 Smart-Concert---08Smart-Concert---09


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for any pop singer related frenzy.

 


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T / cool kids, cool feet / mohinders

02---headerWhen my eye first caught these beautifully woven flats on The Reed, two thoughts came to my mind: 1) where can I get these? and 2) what is the story behind these hand woven beauties?  An email inquiry lead to a great conversation with founder and shoe peddler Michael Paratore and on Thanksgiving Day, a pair of mohinders Women’s Flats found their way from India to California to Phnom Penh.  Since then, I’ve found a favourite pair of high quality, ethically sourced,  hand made leather flats, which have moulded themselves to my feet. They are now my go-to-every-day-shoe and pair with any outfit among my uniforms of shorts and shirt dresses.  This morning, I decided to take the shoes out for a little shoe-t (flexing my pun muscles there) to help share the story behind mohinders and Michael Paratore’s efforts to bring together sustainability, style and comfort for our feet.


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My Mohinders in the morning.

Michael Paratore’s departure from the corporate world and pivot to the sustainable fashion scene was a sound investment. Based on a curiosity behind a phenomenally designed shoe he bought in Mumbai, India, Paratore left his career as a corporate lawyer in Silicon Valley.  From 2012, he would find the source of that original shoe, and help to improve its design with the assistance of friends and family.  Hearing murmurs from the artisan cooperative scene, he even wound up hopping on a 16-hour train ride to Bangalore, India to locate an NGO to help him support the ethical and sustainable production of these shoes. One thing ties together Paratore’s journey from discovering the original shoe’s producer, the partnership with artisan cooperatives in Karnataka, to the meteoric rise of his new brand across social media: word of mouth.  And this all culminated with the realization that this journey would be more fun and exciting than his daily lawyering.

Mohinders-on-a-MotorbikeWhat initially attracted Paratore to the original shoe was its ease of wear.  Slip-on, slip-off.  And on top of that, multiple people were complimenting him about them every day. One more thing: the shoes didn’t smell after daily wear.  With all those positives in line, he added a natural crepe rubber sole and cushioned foot-bed with insole lining leather to make it more comfortable and durable.  The finishing touch of turquoise and red stripes are Paratore’s own too.  This was a product that mohinders could use as their flagship.

The partnership with a well established, decade-old, artisans cooperative in Karnataka, India, has also made the work rewarding.  While Paratore is unsure to what extent mohinders has played in improvements that have taken place in the village, he is aware that the cooperative itself has improved the standard of living among artisans in the community, reduced their reliance on money-lending and has altogether improved the perception and social standing of highly skilled artisans making top quality products.

These durable and beautifully designed products have caught on fast in mohinders’ markets in North America.  Mentions by strategic and potent individuals on social media (Brit+Co and Huffington Post to name a couple) and a successful Kickstarter campaign have helped to propel the mohinders brand across coasts and in our case, continents.  As a result, mohinders’ list of stockists was able to grow organically, starting with friends of friends, outside interests, and stores that were good fits for the shoes.

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My Mohinders in the evening.

Building on the competitive advantage that mohinders’ offers compared to his previous line of work, Paratore intends to keep making decisions based on what sounds fun in order to open more amazing opportunities for mohinders.  This might even include some colour play on their City Slippers.

Oh and the name? Paratore thinks its a little embarrassing, but I think it’s absolutely charming. He first heard the name on NBC’s Heroes. Specifically on the super hero defender, Dr. Mohinder Suresh.  It turns out that the name was particularly sticky, because when he quit his job and needed to name his new venture, it was an easy choice: mohinders.

Thanks so much to Michael Paratore for the interview and shipping these incredible flats all the way to Cambodia!  If you’re interested in getting a pair for yourself, you can order them online, or check them out in person at any of their stockists


All photos by Cait+Tiff. Thanks to friends who helped shoot my feet when I couldn’t do it myself, and to Corbett Hix for lending me the 28mm lens!


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T / let the crazy cool ethical sustainable shopping begin!

WFW-HeaderConfession: I didn’t really know what Black Friday was all about until I moved out of Canada.  It was a faint whisper from the south.  Breaking messages from the six o’ clock network news that would beam from Buffalo, just two hours below us. Up north, we start holiday shopping when it got cold enough.  But we slowly got the point.  Chaos, a lot of running, and plenty of anxiety over getting that discount. Then Cait wrote about how Black Friday is gross last year and we decided to fix that perception.

This year we’re turning Black Friday up on its head againWomen-fro-Women--TechSet2 and I thought I’d get started a little earlier on that.  It all started last week when Jane showed off this gorgeous travel tech kit she had just acquired in Phnom Penh. This lead to some product-envy-related drooling and through Jane, I had the chance to meet Veasna who has been with Happy Silk Cambodia and the Women for Women Foundation for the past ten years.  W4W is a local Cambodian NGO forged to promote the engagement of women in society, the economy and civic action.  One way of doing this has been to support the employment and entrepreneurship of women in the production of textiles and other beautiful products while also paying them an ethical and sustainable wage.  And when I walked into Happy Silk (corner of No. 9, Street 178 in Phnom Penh), I pretty much fell over myself on their new line of brass jewelry, high quality cotton kroma carry-alls and most of all, Jane’s well cushioned, super sturdy ikat travel tech kit.  All of it is made by women in an organization that is also administered by Cambodian women.  It’s a cause I can get on top of, and immediately volunteer to take product photos of.

Which is exactly what I did when I rolled out of bed in a turkey-hangover today.  These are only a selection of the gorgeous pieces Veasna’s got in store.  If you’re also in Phnom Penh this Sunday, you’ll be able to find a selection of these items at Big WIG Christmas Fair, and if you’re not in country, you can also shop these items online at Sudaya.

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This gorgeous tech set is complete with cushioned cases for your portable hard drive and laptop (left) and homes for your cables and chargers too! Ikat and kroma lining were dyed and woven by women in the villages of in Takeo province and final products were sewed in Kandal, Cambodia.

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Bring on the high quality, locally woven, cotton kroma! Eye masks (left) which make for the perfect amenity for holiday guests for $5 each, and the best reversible carry-all bags in 3 sizes (small $5, medium $9 and large $12).

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WFW-Necklaces New brass pieces at a range of prices, from $5 USD.

Let the ethical and sustainable shopping begin!


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for any credit issues that may follow shopping these items.

 

 


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C + T/ jen green, coffee yoda

Last week, we were lucky enough to sit down with Jen Green, Phnom Penh’s resident coffee consultant. Over a few cappuccinos and a double espresso, we picked her brain on her very cool life and all things coffee. Hope you enjoy! 



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Like a lot of people in this part of the world, Jen Green has had an interesting journey to Phnom Penh. Unlike most people here, Jen’s journey involves a little black drink. She’s a coffee consultant and knows more about coffee, coffee trade, coffee flavors, coffee production, and coffee value chains than Cait knows about Tommy BoyInitially driven by law and an interest in energy trading, Jen started work with a big law firm right out of college, living in New York and then London. A few years down the line, she decided to take a brief sabbatical and travel for a few months.

How long have you been here?

Three and a half years.

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Left, Jen Green

 

After working with a local human rights group in Phnom Penh, Jen took a trip through Mondulkiri, in the northern edges of Cambodia. On the way, she stopped to talk with a coffee farmer and asked where his coffee was sold. He didn’t know.

 “It occurred to me that this was a common problem: people don’t have a sense of the whole supply chain or what’s marketable, of course that means that the value adds happen further down the supply chain and away from the farms.” 

This began her adventure into the coffee world. Her work has taken her all over, and to all the highest corners of South East Asia. She works as a coffee consultant, which (we now know) means she does everything from working with farmers on how they can improve the quality of the coffee at the farm, to working to develop coffee co-ops, to working with cafes and roasters on sourcing beans, to setting up a barista station work flow and training baristas. Her blog, Little Black Drink, is beautiful, full of coffee flavor profiles and a clear, deep appreciation for a delicious little bean.

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If you live in Phnom Penh, you are going to want to read this part. Jen is the mastermind behind the Disappearing Brew Bar . The Brew Bar is a pop up that, um, pops up, every few months. She collaborates with local business owners to use shop or restaurant space to host a brunch with a 3-5 different types of specialty coffees, and options from the SE Asia region. There are always delicious pastries and snacks, but if you hit the Brew Bar on the right day, there are sometimes coffee cocktails. The treats are made by Jen, fresh that day, and though she didn’t mention it in the interview, we know she wakes up at 2am on the day of the Brew Bar so she can make sure the bagel dough rises in the right way, and the chocolate-cayenne dipped bacon is perfectly crispy. (We forgot to mention that her mom is a chef, and we are thrilled those genes are strong.) The food is paired with the coffees and meant to bring out certain flavors in the drink. It’s a wonderful way to wake up on a lazy weekend, and you can find out more about them here!

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The next event is this Saturday, at Common Tiger, and you should go and ask her 345429 questions about coffee, because she will know all the answers. In all honesty, she really does know more about coffee than you could believe, but without an ounce of snob in her body. She is able to look at coffee that some might call “garbage meth drink” and simply see it as a different product. She has a deep appreciation for the flavors in different types of coffee, and for the people that grow it. She has more stories than we can fit into a post, but she did tell us one, about an adventure to Chaing Mai. On a trip to a coffee farm, she was able to roast the beans from 20 feet away and make a cup of coffee for the farmer that grew it, which he had never tasted. Go ask her for the details.

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Seriously. Go to the Brew Bar this weekend, if we were in country we would be there and would totally be hogging the donuts, so get in there while you can. Thank you Jen, for letting us pile on the questions, and for making something awesome and delicious in Phnom Penh.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

All noises caused by the photos by Tiffany Tsang are made by Caitlin Decker.


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C + T / Bearhanded Salon

Header2Looking for a great way to spend a Sunday morning? Take five friends to your favorite salon, drink sparkling wine, get your hair did, your nails and waxing done, then eat chocolate and pastries for three hours. How do we have this insider knowledge, you ask? Because that is exactly what we did on Sunday.01---Croissants-and-HotCrossbuns11---Product-Grid 02---Hair-Colour-Grid

Around 10am, Alissa, Kiira, Caroline, and the two of us took a field trip to Bearhanded Salon, located in The Willow Hotel. Vaughan, the owner and resident hair yoda, has just opened a new, expanded salon. The space has areas for hair, waxing, and nails, along with a sweet little lounge outside and comfy couch in the waiting area. Most of the furniture was done by our friends at Alchemy Design, who you may remember from our post a few months ago. All of the work was custom, and it looks fantastic.

Vaughan has reigned in some of the best talent in Phnom Penh to work alongside him, including Kim Leang, every woman’s favorite waxer. 13---Kim-Leang05---Tiff-Hair-Grid07---Nail-Polish-and-Sparkling-Wine08---Cait-on-Couch

10---Alissa-GridVaughan is from South Africa, and has been doing hair for 13 years. The experience shows. He has a solid grasp on all types of hair, and it’s really nice to go into a place, sit down in the chair and say “make me Taylor Swift” or “do what you do” and like what happens. Also, don’t get us started on the head massage. It’s worth going for that part alone.14---Final-Hair

Ladies-and-Vaughan2-editThank you, Vaughan, for letting us take over your salon and for inspiring us to name our haircuts. From left to right Alissa: The Sexy Swiftie, Kiira: La Sophia Rubia, Vaughan: This is My Hat, Cait: Bang Bang, Tiff: Uptown Tiff.

Bearhanded Salon
#1, Street 21 (Inside The Willow Hotel)
Phnom Penh
093 700 431 (Vaughan)
012 886 587 (Kim)


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.


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C / Jackie Kennedy-ish

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I am doing a piece for a very impressive lady, for a very fancy gala in Phnom Penh this Friday. The theme of the gala is The 60’s, and since Jackie Kennedy made a famous trip to Cambodia in the 60’s, my client has asked for gown in true Jackie style. This is extremely cool, and extremely out of my wheelhouse.

I have mountains of respect for Jackie, as a Kennedy, an Onassis and as a person without a fancy last name. She was classy on all fronts, and had her own style for days and days. The Jackie look is way past iconic and familiar shapes and colors straight from her playbook pop up on the runway every few years. That being said, I don’t favor pastels, satin, or the demure. I respect when other designers do it, and I like the way it looks, it’s just not really my thing.  Looking for inspiration for the dress was a lot of fun, and the design world’s obsession with all things Jackie made it pretty easy. I wanted to make it a tiny bit more modern, and pulled some inspiration from modern day ladies in throwback styles. I don’t want it to look like an Easter Dress and I have very real fear that it will.  I find out tomorrow.

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Designing this dress has been fun, if challenging, and I am looking at it as more of a costume than a gown. For one thing, it’s baby blue and satin. I guess that’s two things.

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I bought water color pencils and its good to know that just because I’m 31, it doesn’t mean I have to color inside the lines.

Photos credit: Jackie 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

caitsig


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C / independence in the penh

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Photo by RoadSmile

One of the most frustrating things for me in Cambodia is the transportation situation. Obvious issues include the traffic, how insanely busy it is, total disregard for sidewalks, and that street lights, one-way signs and traffic cops are merely a suggestion. These are all a pain, but the struggle I have is the lack of independence this creates.

I have been living in tuk tuks for the last three and a half years. Not actually living, that would be super uncomfortable, but tuk tuks are my preferred form of transportation here. For those of you who do not live in South East Asia, a tuk tuk is a glorified wagon dragged behind a mostly-functioning motorcycle.

There are few tuk tuk drivers that park near my apartment and are generally very nice guys. They drive safely, show me photos of their kids, and treat me respectfully. But, like any city, Phnom Penh has some not-so-nice guys. I have had a few run-ins with drivers that have made me want to pack my bags, because no matter how much Khmer I learn, this blonde, godzilla-like she-beast will never pass as a local. I am constantly jealous of my friends who don’t have to worry about some drunk d-bag trying overcharge them, or leading them into a head-on collision.

My solution? Bite the bullet and get a motorcycle. Over the years, I have referred a motorcycle as a death trap, crotch rocket, ball-sweat catcher (sorry), bad choice on wheels, mid-life-crisis-mobile, and overpriced vibrator. I wasn’t convinced and I was mostly sure I would die if I got on one. Then did get on one, and I’m not dead. So that’s a step.

My decision to get a trusty steed has not been a flippant one, and this comes after years of contemplation, a thousand questions, and a very kind offer from a friend to help me learn how to ride.

Here are a few I’m considering.

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Photo by Moto123

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Photo by Honda

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Photo by Vespa

The moto hunt starts next week and I can’t wait to start driving again. Sorry mom, I promise I will always wear my helmet and be super duper careful.

caitsig


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T / one crazy saturday

headerSometimes it creeps up on you.  You hardly hear it coming.  It’s a freaking crazy Saturday.  It’s so packed, you feel the need to document it all (or most of it at least – you don’t need to see me eating fried chicken).  Particularly because you have your hands on a sweet ass lens that your photo sensei placed in your hands for a morning of overhead squats and muscle shots. And more so when you discover that soap making with a thickly accented Korean man can actually be the best thing since soap itself (and that says a lot).

OHS-GridIt all started with the Crossfit Open.  For those of us who drank the Kool-Aid, it’s the best way to start off the weekend.  That’s right, 30-odd sweaty nutballs squatting, pulling themselves over bars and cheering each other out over at Crossfit Amatak.  For me though, I was so inspired by the gorgeous (lady) muscles out there.  So I might have gone a little shutter crazy on that. And let there be a GIF.07---01---Mary-Muscle-Pull-Up

Very shortly (and just a few blocks) after the sweat fest, Cait and I went and did the complete opposite.

Lee Byoung-Hee began making soap as a response to his wife’s sensitive skin and the lack of appropriate cleansing products in Phnom Penh.  He now has sourced the best ingredients and sells his wares in the Russian Market (near the Bodia stall), but also teaches soap making from his very own home!  Our wonderful friend Caroline organized a group of amazing women (and us messy art lovers) to learn how it all gets done and to make some crazy designs of our own; and boy did we make some fun little soap bombs (and annoy our instructor with our colour choices).

Tools-of-the-Trade-Grid Butterfly-Grid Soap-GridLessons start from $40 and prices may vary according to group size. For more information, email Mr. Lee here.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.