As one of my favorite 90s singers once said, “It is a growing process. You can’t just like beer. You have to start somewhere and learn the different flavors.” (If you are wondering who that singer was – it’s Isaac Hanson, of Mmmbop fame.)
Like learning to like beer, learning to run a business and navigate life is a growing process. For those of you who don’t know, in the fall of 2017, I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to work for a local non-government organization (NGO) working with victims who have been rescued from human trafficking. At the same time, Emily was transitioning out of her role at Bridgetown Inc. Emily and her husband were looking for a new adventure. A few signatures later and I’ve become the sole owner of Hop Hands.
Most of 2018, was spent adjusting to a new culture, my new job and learning Khmer. (Fun fact: the Khmer alphabet is the longest alphabet in the world, consisting of 74 letters.) I was able to continue to ideate and network for relationships for Hop Hands here in Cambodia. In early 2018, I was connected to another local Cambodian NGO that works with polio victims and disadvantaged women to teach sewing skills.
VillageWorks creates more than just handicrafts. They are really building the lives of the villagers they work with. Behind each product they produce, you help support the whole person (or people) who helped create an amazing item. You support their family and build up lives. This allows villagers to break free from their poverty cycle and find hope in life.
In case you were wondering, it is estimated that 26% of the adult population of Cambodia is illiterate. 18.6% of the population lives below the international poverty life of $1.25/day (USD). 31.4% of children in Cambodia received inadequate care and 36.1% of children are working in child labor. Cambodia is also a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.
Partnering with an organization like VillageWorks makes sense, not only for the amazing professionalism they encompass here in Cambodia but how encouraging they are to their teams to create amazing products and support one another.
On top of that in 2016, VillageWorks secured guaranteed membership from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). WFTO is a global network of over 400 organizations and individuals in over 70 countries across the world. They represent millions of artisans and farmers, most of whom are indigenous people, physically-challenged persons and women. WFTO prescribes 10 Principles that all Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld:
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
- Transparency and Accountability
- Fair Trading Practices
- Payment of a Fair Price
- Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
- Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equality and Freedom of Association
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions
- Providing Capacity Building
- Promoting Fair Trade
- Respect for the Environment
When it comes to respecting the environment, the newest version of Hop Hands does not disappoint. Made from 85% recycled and upcycled products (basically everything but the buckles is recycled). It features the classic southeast Asian recycled fish food or cement bags that offer a little homage from the place of its creation. Just like before the outside is made of a durable black canvas, although this canvas is sourced from scrap materials left over from larger factories in the area.
2019 is shaping up to be a good year for Hop Hands, but I need your help!
- Sign up here to be a beta tester. Since growlers are in (expensive) limited supply here in Cambodia and hardly no one rides bikes in the city of Phnom Penh. I need some amazing beta testers to help me with the next round of product testing. This means you’ll get access to the latest Hop Hands available in early 2019.
- Invite friends to like our Facebook and Instagram channels. As we get ready to roll out our newest launch. We need your help getting more beer and bike enthusiast interested in learning more about Hop Hands.
- Got questions? Email me directly. I’d love to chat about Cambodia, Hop Hands, ethical sourcing and more with you.
Once again, thank you for following the Hop Hands journey. I hope you had an amazing holiday season and hope 2019 is just as exciting for you as it is for Hop Hands.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Hop Hands Founder