I got to a point in my yoga practice where I wanted to honour my trusty yoga mat with a beautiful and functional bag.
Solution? Ask Mum to make me one for Christmas.
I was expecting something plain and functional and for me, the special part would have been because my Mum made it. Christmas ticks around and to my complete delight, I unwrap a beautifully patch worked yoga bag made from scrap velvet. You see, my Mum is an Interior Designer and for years has accumulated scraps of gorgeous fabrics because we both couldn’t bear to throw them away (this happens all the time when the new season of fabric comes in).
So now I get to breeze into class with something utterly gorgeous. I thought my bag was so beautiful that I actually ended up carrying it around more than I needed to and explaining how special my Mum is to anyone who’d listen.
Nikita Handmade founder Claire Henry
On a sunny day in January 2013, just before I was about to leave for yoga study in Thailand, my friend suggested I make and sell them to other yogis abroad. I was hesitant at first but miraculously, everything just seemed to fall into place. Little pieces of advice here and introductions there created an opportunity for me to connect with Vichetr Uon, the founder of Sao Sary Foundation (SSF) www.ssf.org.kh. When I met Vic I could feel something special was about to happen.
SSF is a unique foundation that works in Cambodia to prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation by inspiring vulnerable children and their families to socially and economically empower themselves. I knew this opportunity could go even further than me making and selling beautiful bags. I finally had a way to really make a huge impact in people’s lives.
Throughout my years growing up, my family and I we were involved in numerous humanitarian ventures. Without a doubt the most rewarding and memorable was offering foster care for under-privileged, international children recovering from major surgery. Contact with these beautiful children has had a strong impact in my life and has cultivated a powerful desire to support community in my personal and business life. Inspired by our family attitude of ‘you can achieve anything you put your mind to’, I saw this meeting with Vichetr and the Sao Sary Foundation as an incredible opportunity to create positive social impact on an even grander scale.
Claire with one of the women in the sewing program
Fast forward to present day and Nikita Handmade works alongside Sao Sary Foundation operating a sewing program that supports disadvantaged women to build a brighter future for themselves. There are currently 5 women who work full time in the sewing team and 29 part time trainees.We provide safe, fair and flexible working arrangements plus practical training in sewing, business management and micro investment and well as personal business coaching. I believe that with the help of local teachers, our team members can learn all the necessary skills to establish their own small business and become self-reliant, successful members of their community.
Our beautiful women in Cambodia
Thank you for joining with us to empower and inspire women in Cambodia. Please feel free to contact me personally if you’re looking for ways in which you can to contribute further claire [at] nikitahandmade.com.au.
With endless gratitude,