I recently discovered a wonderful company that makes absolutely beautiful fair trade scarves and you have the chance to win one! These intricate handcrafted scarves are not just another pretty accessory, proceeds from Elizabeth Koh help provide shelter and life development resources to homeless and abandoned children in Thailand through our partnership with SOS Children’s Villages.
I was honored to have the chance to meet and chat with Elizabeth Koh‘s lovely founders, Janelle and Megan.
Savvy Suburban: Your scarves are absolutely beautiful! I love that they are handcrafted by women in Thailand. Tell us about Ampha and Tong, their team and how you chose to work with them.
Elizabeth Koh: We were bringing 100 pounds of medical supplies to Rajavithi Home for girls, when we realized that we didn’t have a translator for the supplies! I asked some friends at work for advice, and my co-worker introduced me to their friend Eddie. Eddie is thai, and was going to be in Thailand visiting family while we were there. He offered to help us translate the supplies, and we met him in Bangkok. He ended up traveling with us for the next few weeks, and introduced us to his Uncle who lives in Thailand. His uncle introduced us to his aunt, then his cousin, who took us to the women in the village. So I like to say it was a little bit of good karma that took us to the women!
SS: What materials are the scarves made of?
EK: 100% Cotton. We may eventually delve into other materials, but we feel that the simplicity and comfort of cotton was the best starting point for our brand.
SS: The thing that struck me about your business is that you are not just selling scarves, you are doing a wonderful service by offering fair employment in a part of the world that needs it. What gave you the philanthropic idea to have them made this way?
EK: We wanted to create a company that benefited the communities where our products were made. That was the first idea we had, and from their we decided on scarves as they were an easy one size fits all item to start with. I personally have been traveling to Thailand since 2010, and saw people there that needed help. The Thai people are incredibly kind and friendly, and we wanted to do something that would benefit them while creating a company that we could be proud of. After visiting with many organizations, we chose SOS Children’s Villages to donate 10% of our profits too.
SS: Elizabeth Koh has donated a good amount of funds to the Thai charities, the children of Rajwithi Home For Girls and SOS Children’s Villages of Thailand. Why is this region of the world near & dear to your hearts? Why are these organizations important to you?
EK: This region is near and dear to our hearts because of the amazing people living in it. The thai people are incredibly kind, and can always manage a smile no matter what the circumstance. Their positivity is contagious, and seeing the stark differences between life in Thailand and life in the USA made us want to do something to help. The Rajavithi Home for Girls was one of the first organizations I met with, and they need a lot of help. It is hard to see so many people in need and not want to help them all! While we love the Rajavithi Home for girls, we chose SOS Children’s Villages as our official partner because of how well the children are taken care of there. SOS believies in the importance of raising children together as a family. In each village 10-12 children live together in one home, and become brothers and sisters. They have a mother in the home who lives their 24/7, and becomes their mother for life. This idea of creating a family environment for the children really struck my heart.
SS: Running a company with your best friend must be loads of fun! What is the best thing about it?
EK: The best thing about working with Megan is that we know each other so well, we have a short hand with each other and don’t have to spend much time “breaking things down” or over explaining where we’re coming from. There’s no ego here. Another great bonus is that we’ve been travel buddies for almost ten years as best friends. Now, through company we travel around the country quite a bit for sales meetings and conferences, as well as several trips to Thailand each year. Its just really special to be able to have a companion by my side who can be my savvy design and business partner, and then flip a switch and be my best friend in a second.
EK: In five years I would like to see us active in 3 different countries, providing fair employment and giving back to other regions of the world. As an avid traveler, I have visited many countries and know there is need all over the world. We are currently partnering with the Soroptomist Club to sponsor local scholarships for high school students, I would like to see us partnering with more charitable organizations in the USA as well. In 2015 we plan to launch 3 other types of accessories, so keep your eye on EK next year!
You can find their soft, gorgeous scarves and more information about this special company on their site and on Etsy. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest. Enter our giveaway for your chance to win a beautiful handcrafted Elizabeth Koh scarf!