The Dynamic Duo:  Elisa and Jennifer
Smateria was set up in 2006 in Cambodia by two Italian friends: Elisa, who runs the creative side and Jennifer, the business side.  They both believed “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and knew it was possible to transform discarded old materials into gorgeous new accessories.Elisa lived in China and Italy before moving to Cambodia in 2006 with her family.  Jennifer has lived in Cambodia since 2001 with her partner and their two children.  She has worked in the tourism industry for years and was looking for a new challenge when she met Elisa.It was the unlikely combination of a roll of faulty net on sale at a market and tripping over a black plastic bag, which sowed the seed in Elisa’s mind, that something beautiful could and should be created from “useless material”.  From this point on, her house was transformed into a small workshop and her children said “good-bye” to their playroom.A chance meeting at a children’s play date resulted in Jennifer and Elisa’s meeting of minds and when Jennifer saw Elisa’s first prototypes, it was love at first sight and she immediately began drawing up business plans in order to open the first shop / workshop.The pair started out with “three tailors and a heap of ideas”.  Both were in their element – Elisa was finally getting to use her creativity and Jennifer was trying her hand at running a company.These days Jennifer runs the daily operations and the commercial part of the company from Phnom Penh.  Smateria now has five shops in Cambodia and exports to many different countries around the world. Elisa continue to work on the creative part.Elisa and Jennifer continue to learn every day from their inspirational Cambodian team. To work alongside Cambodian managers in their business who were formerly exploited workers without rights or a future, confirms for Elisa and Jennifer that their dream has definitely become a reality.