I am Keiko Koitabashi and I have been a volunteer specialist helping with KnK’s income generating activities (IGA) in Cambodia since the beginning of January. In this current project, I am taking part in product development and sales promotion activities in order to improve the quality of the silk and sewing products manufactured in workshops.
[Starting with Sketches]
KnK Cambodia has a showroom where silk products such as bags and cosmetic pouches made at KnK are displayed for sale. I started my project by drawing designs of new products inspired by the products on display at the showroom, as well as completely new designs, in a sketch book.
Through the translation service provided by a local staff member, I had a meeting with the instructors, producers, and trainees participating in the IGA about manufacture of products for Japanese consumers. I explained the purpose of my job at KnK Cambodia, differences between the products for Cambodia and those for Japan, and specific details of the products for Japan.
I also encouraged the attendees to wash their hands before handling fabric in order not to soil it and to pay special attention to long nails. Cambodian girls enjoy nail art like Japanese girls. Long nails, however, may be accidentally caught in fabric and hinder needlework, and they may also damage the fabric. Spoiled or damaged fabric will deteriorate the value of the products and exclude them from the market. I felt very sorry for the fashion-conscious young girls when I told them to keep their nails short if possible to avoid product devaluation.
[Making Sample Products]
Through discussion with Japanese staff members, I picked up some designs to be used for manufacturing products for Japanese consumers and had the sewing team start making sample products. Silk is not used for sample products; first just cotton is used. I gave the team fairly detailed directions about the sizes and shapes, and I am anxious to see how much they have understood them and how close the sample products are to my designs. I am very much looking forward to seeing the completion of the samples.
*The IGA project in Cambodia is implemented with support funding from the Japan International Cooperation Foundation.