image

“There is a time for everything in life: childhood is time to dream, to play, to discover, it is not time to work.”  

Smateria co-founder, Elisa Lion

Child Labor Free has had the pleasure of working with Smateria over the last few months.  As a commitment to their brand and to extend the ethical work their incredible business already does to ensure social responsibility, Smateria engaged Child Labor Free to assess their supply chain.  We met with their incredible founders, Jennifer Morellato and Elisa Lion, to find out a bit more about them, their business model, and their motivation to change the fashion status quo.

Jennifer and Elisa are two Italian women based  in Cambodia who are committed to creating beautifully designed bags from repurposed materials, while changing the lives of Cambodian’s through positive employment practices through their social enterprise.

Both Jennifer and Elisa grew up in Italy.  Jennifer in the beautiful lake side town of Riva del Garda, in Northern Italy, and Elisa in Padova near Venice.

Elisa is the creative force behind Smateria, taking the lead on designing each collection, while Jennifer takes on the business development responsibilities.  Elisa credits Jennifer with being able to channel her creativity into a business, while she transforms re-purposed materials like netting, used locally for mosquito nets, fishing and construction, plastic shopping bags, and leather off-cuts into line of bags and accessories. Smateria bags look beautiful, and are good for the environment.

image

Fast-forward from 2006, and what started as a small business in Jennifer’s garage, is now a brand that is sold in four Smateria stores in Cambodia, employs 120 staff and retails in 17 countries across the globe.

When asked what the biggest business challenge they’ve faced to date was, the two have the same response - staying close to the brands guiding principles, whilst coping with the company’s rapid growth.  The pair found that at times they’ve had to refuse large orders that would have compromised the ethical principles the brand was founded on.

Being Child Labor Free is really important to Smateria.   The Founders connect with mothers, employ mothers – and are mothers.  They love children and believe it is their absolute right to enjoy childhood, and this should be protected by all.  

image

Smateria became accredited Child Labor Free – Manufacturing in February 2016.