2013 Lin's camera; 2nd trip to village 339Meet Sun Ley,  creator of our newest Red Dirt Road product: a versatile envelope purse made of 100% hand-loomed Cambodian silk!   This picture was taken just before I left the village yesterday, and literally minutes after the sample design was declared production ready.  Just-in-time design at its best.

I have been wanting to do an envelope-style iPad purse for more than a year.  We just couldn’t seem to get it right. Too small. Not wide enough. Straps mounted in the wrong place to hold the weight of an iPad without distorting the whole envelope look. Interfacing not right. The problems went on and on until l finally packed away a box full of failed samples in my closet where I didn’t have to look at them anymore. They have been hibernating in there for the better part of a year. But wait!  The latest fashion magazines declare that “envelope clutches are BIG this season!”   So the project was resurrected for one more try.

This time, we got it right!  Being here to work in-person with Ley,  a skilled seamstress and our sample creator made all the difference. The first sample was good, but not quite right.  With input from Lin, Sophal and me on structural changes and various details, Ley carefully constructed a second production sample. Time was running short.  I needed to leave the village yesterday with a good sample to carry home with me when I depart Camboida tonight.

The second trial produced a perfectly functional AND beautiful end product!  The Red Dirt Road shop erupted in excited shouts of “Wa Hoo!” amid laughter and dancing.  This one is a winner!

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I know, its upside down. I will fix this later.

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This one too.

Look past the amateur photography, I took these pictures with an iPhone this morning.

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Sophal suggested we include both an over-the-shoulder strap and a longer, cross-body strap, a great suggestion. The strap is removable, so the purse can also be used as a clutch.photo (7)

I am going to take orders which will be delivered in time for Christmas. Fun color combinations will be available, as well as single-color versions like this one.

The sunlight was fading as Lin, Sophal and I stuffed ourselves into the van for the two hour drive down the red dirt road and back to Phnom Penh.  All the women lined up to wave good-bye, and I had to hold back my tears as we pulled away. I am so proud of what the women of Red Dirt Road can accomplish, sewing with treadle machines and ironing with a coal heated irons.

Lin (the Energizer Bunny) will spend another week in Cambodia, and with the help of our Operations Manager, Sophal, will work with the women on new artistic techniques: silk painting and free-style doodle sewing. New skills. New products. New opportunities for the women of Red Dirt Road, Inc. NFP to earn money to feed their families and educate their children.  And we women in the U.S. get beautiful,  functional designs to enjoy, with the added bonus of knowing our purchases are changing the lives of women and children in this remote village in Cambodia.

2013 Lin's camera; 2nd trip to village 338

Ley is a very tiny women, which makes the iPad sized purse look huge on her. Trust me, its the right size!