Brand Partner: Penh Lenh
Penh Lenh, meaning "whole," sets out to empower marginalized and at-risk women in Cambodia to pursue their life goals through quality education and sustaining employment.
In 2013, Penh Lenh's founder, Rachel Dodson, left her fast-paced job as a modeling agent in New York City to pursue a career in serving and empowering marginalized women. It was then that Rachel traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and saw the need for women to be educated and provided with self-sustaining jobs. Just a couple months later, Rachel moved to Cambodia for good.
Their products are handcrafted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by female artisans working to build new lives for themselves and their families. Each piece represents the strength and beauty of the women creating them and also the women wearing them.
One of the coolest things about Penh Lenh is that 100% of their product sales are reinvested in their social mission - to provide education, vocational training, and advanced career opportunities for their artisans.
Today, we would like to share a story with you from one of the mother's that works at Penh Lenh. Her name is Srey Ya and because of a lack of resources, child-care options and a desire to nurse Charlie, they allowed Srey Ya to bring Charlie to Penh Lenh for the first 6 months. He became part of the team and all the artisans and management helped care for and watch him. He went with them on team outings, to the beach, basically everywhere. So, as Rachel describes it, Srey Ya and Charlie's story is really the whole team's story.
Srey Ya used to work in a shoe factory where she worked six days a week and consistently worked overtime, often working 7am - 9pm. Srey Ya struggled to make minimum wage and says she never had the time or money to eat and rest enough. Srey Ya says the management at the factory regularly yelled and cursed at the staff and she even passed out at one point due to extreme heat and poor ventilation at the factory.
Now that Srey Ya works at Penh Lenh, she makes a regular living wage, she has access to medical insurance through Penh Lenh, daily healthy meals provided by Penh Lenh, and paid vacation, sick, and holiday leave as the law requires. Srey Ya also has a work environment that supports and encourages her, management that meets with her twice a month to celebrate successes and discuss any challenges, and is provided with education opportunities as well. When Srey Ya became pregnant with her first son Charlie, she was able to receive regular ultrasounds, doctor visits, and delivered her son at a high standard hospital through her health care provided by Penh Lenh.
After hearing about the conditions of her previous workplace, it would be very hard to imagine what life would be like for Srey Ya and Charlie if she was not working for Penh Lenh while she was pregnant or at the time of birth - or even now after becoming a mother!
I'm so incredibly honored to know and work with Rachel and proud that we can support Penh Lenh, their incredible mission and the beautiful artisans that work there.
Every time I wear this bracelet, it's more than a fashion statement - it's a belief statement. I believe in fair and equal treatment of women. I believe in female empowerment. I believe in a happy life. And I believe it shouldn't come at a high cost for anyone.