Smateria was established in Cambodia in 2006 by two Italian friends: Elisa, who manages the creative side, and Jennifer, who runs the business side. They both believed “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and knew it was possible to transform discarded materials, such as mosquito netting, black plastic bags and motorcycle seats, into gorgeous new fashion accessories by mixing Italian design and Khmer technical skills.
Smateria is a self-financed social enterprise and in just four years, has grown from five to fifty employees. All Smateria employees are contracted in accordance with International Labour Law and the business operates under Fair Trade principles.
Sarah Miller recognised the potential for Smateria products in Australia while she was working in rural Cambodia as a volunteer for 3 years. Since returning to Australia, Sarah has brought Smateria into the fold of her fiancé’s family business, HQW Distributors. Sarah believes that the best part of the business is that not only do people receive a fashionable, functional and sustainable product but also, by buying Smateria goods, they assist in the development of Cambodia, a country greatly underdeveloped due to its tragic history.
Distribution in Australia began in late 2010 with interest in these fantastic products growing extremely quickly. A limited product range can now also be bought online at the Australian Smateria website.