The Smateria Story
Smateria was established by Italian expats, Jennifer Morellato and Elisa Lion in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2006. They wanted to create beautiful, high-quality bags and accessories by repurposing the raw materials they saw around them, and to employ Cambodian workers in a fair and sustainable way, giving priority to women and mothers.
A decade later and Jennifer and Elisa continue to use netting (part of every day life in Cambodia), recycled plastic shopping bags, vinyl and leather off-cuts for their collection of stylish bags. The use of good quality zips, domes, cottons and fabric for the linings mean the finished product is of a very high quality. Smateria bags are handmade in its own workshop, where employees (85 percent of whom are women) enjoy comfortable working conditions, a thirteen-month salary, health insurance, professional training and the freedom to train across the whole organization. They also employ two teachers and two teaching assistants to run an on-site preschool for the employees’ children. This ensures the children are well cared for while their parent(s) are working and they are able to get a head start on their education which Cambodian’s do not usually have access to, as there is no government funded early childhood education in Cambodia.
In 2016 Smateria became accredited Child Labor Free and proudly displays this mark on all it's products. Manufacturers awarded this status have committed to ensuring there are no children working in the manufacturing process and this has been verified by a rigorous auditing process.
Smateria New Zealand
Smateria is proudly distributed in New Zealand by Hashtag Limited. Directors, Belinda Muir and Jo Bigham began their friendship as rural kids in New Zealand over 30 years ago. After careers that took them in different directions and to places all around the world, they wanted to create a business together. Seeing the growing demand for high quality products that look beautiful, but are not wasteful, they chose to work only with brands that had a strong social and environmental message. Smateria - with its philosophy of repurposing and recycling materials and caring for its employees, fitted the bill perfectly.
With Belinda based in Tairua and Jo in Phnom Penh they are well placed to work with Smateria Cambodia and their customers in New Zealand.
If you would like more information about Smateria, please contact us.