A Passion Project submission from the team at basik 855
A couple of months ago, I realized something that was both sad and striking: upon informing people that basik 855 is based in Cambodia, they tend to assume we’re either a knock-off novelty company or that we run a sweatshop. Neither assumption is true, but it bothers us because of how drastically different we actually are.
basik 855 makes fashionable, handwoven ikat textiles, bags, and personal accessories. Yes, fabric can be made at less cost and more quickly by using other methods, but we believe machines will never replicate the artistry of a handmade product. Generations of tradition pass from our weavers’ hands to our goods, and each bolt of our fabric is infused with personality and history.
Here’s where it gets really special: we work with a full-time Cambodia design team to incorporate our knowledge of seasonal design trends with their knowledge of traditional ikat motifs. basik 855 doesn’t direct; we collaborate. For Heirloom, our Fall ’13 collection, our designers stretched their skills further than ever before to create a cohesive collection that we think has a fresh, modern aesthetic.
Cambodians have been weaving ikat for centuries, and on our traditional looms it remains a very time-intensive art. Though these skills were nearly lost after the Khmer Rouge, our company focuses on not just preserving this technique, but also broadening its appeal and bringing it into a global market.
We’d be remiss if the work were to simply stop there. basik 85 isn’t a charity, but we do firmly believe that there’s a proper way to do business. For example, our employees deserve (and receive) a fair living wage that they wouldn’t receive in the garment factories. We offer paid time off, safe working conditions, annual raises, and will not hire anyone under the age of 18. Ideally, these facts shouldn’t be unusual; however, in today’s world (and especially in a developing country), they do make us stand apart.
It’s time for us to show the world what our artisans can do, so basik 855 has launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign. Though every Kickstarter campaign is a risk – honestly, this all-or-nothing business makes our palms sweat – we feel this approach allows us to broaden our definition of success beyond the strictly financial aspects. To us, the opportunity to create a sense of community is not just vital to maintaining a business – it’s also really exciting.
Help build the basik 855 community, kickstart their new collection, and support this socially responsible company by connecting + spreading the word!