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Our3Q – Tonlé, Cambodia

Kaitlyn Telge – marketing manager of Tonlé, company that produces and sells clothes made with recycled materials, using and promoting the zero-waste philosophy.


Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?

Last summer we were accepted in an accelerator program for Social Entrepreneurs in Colorado. It is a very competitive program: they select entrepreneurs from around the world which do something for social good and Rachael, our founder, was chosen as one of their fellows. Beside that, we won a prize from a branding company, which select one social enterprise and gives 20.000$ for consulting and 10.000$ for implementing strategies. This definitely helped us to scale even bigger.


Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?

Run a business in Cambodia is generally very challenging. Because of corruption and many other reasons, Cambodia is ranked the third hardest country in the world to run a company. Also, the fashion industry is very competitive. Finding our niche market around the world is very challenging. The market here is different than the market in USA or China, figuring out products which will work for everyone is no easy task.


Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?

Testing a lot of things. We have a store at the airport where we can see what different nationalities like. We listen our customers and always check what is generally in sell. We have also quite a reasonable price range, considering other ethic fashion shops, which make our products accessible for most people.


Would you like to add something more?

We are one of the first shops, if not the first, of the kind, considering that we do both: zero-waste fashion and recycled materials. What’s more, we do not use one piece of fabric for one design, as most other ethic fashion companies do. We use one piece for many products. We don’t throw anything away. We keep it and we will use it in the future. One strip could be used for a t-shirt; what is left can be used for a scarf or a small bag. The remaining scrap can be reduced in paper to produce postcards or notebooks. There is literally zero waste. The zero-waste philosophy starts to be popular in the world. There is plenty of zero-waste bloggers and interesting initiatives, but there is not much about zero-waste fashion. That’s why we also try to educate our customers about that.


The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.


Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 20th November, 2015

ID: 013/100

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