Lotus Jayne began one sticky August afternoon in the year 2000 in Cambodia. A tiny little girl, my new daughter, sat on my lap staring numbly through the rain-splattered windshield as we pulled away from the AOA orphanage and all she knew. Ahead, over the muddy and rutted road, lay the Phnom Penh airport and her new life in the USA. It was one of those moments in life that one remembers forever. Here were my husband and I bringing a precious gift out of this devastated country. I realized then that we had an obligation to give back to Cambodia; her people had suffered so much, and so recently. At that time I had no idea what form giving back would take, but I did know that Jayne, like millions of children all over the world in war-torn countries, was orphaned through no fault of her own.
One year later, Jayne's Cambodian Classical dance teacher Somaly Hay and her husband Khan, refugees from the Pol Pot regime living in Connecticut, exposed me to the wonders of hand-loomed Cambodian silk scarves. As Khan turned an iridescent scarf this way and that, smiling as the fibers reflected light like liquid silver, I was a goner. Why had I never seen these textiles before in the U.S.? Realizing that affordable 100% hand-loomed Cambodian silk scarves were virtually unknown here, my friend and then-partner Katie Mahoney and I decided that the principles of fair trade would guide us in bringing these items to a receptive audience in our home community.
Today, as sole proprietor of Lotus Jayne, LLC, I source textiles and other fine handicrafts from Cambodia and also many other countries across the world. I work solely with suppliers whose efforts bring disadvantaged communities into the global marketplace, thus shortening the supply chain and eliminating the bites of profit taken out along the way. It is such a gift to see whole communities get a fair price for their handcrafted items and then go on to build schools for their children and so much more. Mothers no longer are under pressure to sell their daughters to sex traffickers, rural people don't need to leave their villages to beg in cities for survival. Yes, there is still much to be done, but, truly, the work of fair trade is rescuing whole communities and their revered handicraft traditions from extinction.
I am so honored to continue offering you fair trade handicrafts from Cambodia and the world. Come back often and please send friends our link. We all have much to do to help isolated peoples compete in the global marketplace, your support makes this world a better place.
I hope you enjoy your purchases in the knowledge that you have touched a life and made a difference to women, their families, and entire communities around the world.
In peace, Jill Kimball
My cherished team consists of my intrepid assistant Melanie Kennedy, who brings a steady devotion and an open heart to all the work of this fair trade business.
Mr. Thon Soem remains Lotus Jayne's Cambodian Representative, her tireless man-on-the-ground if you will, sorting through the many tangled skeins of cultural differences to source a particular scarf or piece of jewelry.
Really and truly, it is the talented women artisans of all sorts, who are the true heart of this fair trade enterprise. They deserve all the thanks we have and then some for their persistence and talent.
Lotus Jayne offers hand-loomed textiles and accessories with contemporary style from Cambodia and other parts of the world. Supportive relationships with fair trade collectives help the disadvantaged and the marginalized, particularly women, achieve stable economic independence through the production of revered traditional handicrafts.
Lotus Jayne supports the Fair Trade Federation and is a proud member of Green America.