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Smateria is the brainchild of Elisa and Jennifer, two expat Italian women in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While it is first and foremost a business, specializing in brightly colored, long-lasting bags and accessories, it is very much a social enterprise, employing Cambodians from many different backgrounds.
Smateria started in 2006 when Jennifer and Elisa met by chance. They talked about creativity, design and business and Elisa invited Jennifer to look at the designs she was working on using materials like nylon netting and plastic bags.
Jennifer loved them immediately and they agreed to try their luck at developing a line of bags using up-cycled and re-purposed materials. They sourced mosquito net locally and searched the markets for fabrics to use as lining.
Fast-forward from 2006 and these fabrics now form part of a fashion collection that is sold in five Smateria stores in Cambodia and in 15 countries across the globe.