Famous all around the world, Hoeu Sareth - better known as Mr Sit-Down - is still just a jewel in the rough
Hoeu Sareth has been giving customers a good deal for over 20 years.
PROVIDING wooden stools for the customers of the small jewellery shop he opened in 1987 at Phnom Penh's Russian Market was the beginning of business success for Hoeu Sareth, who is now better-known as Mr Sit-Down.
"I usually said ‘sit down' to all my foreign customers who came to my shop, and then they called me Mr Sit-Down, because it was easy for them and their friends to look for and remember," he says.
The name has stuck and now, more than 20 years later, Mr Sit-Down, otherwise known as Hoeu Sareth, has put his name to three Mr Sit-Down shops.
One is run by his daughter, whom he taught all about jewellery, just as Mr Sit-Down learned from his parents. Soon his son will have a shop of his own, too.
"I learned to design jewellery from my parents during the 1950s. I have never gone to study anywhere - I believe in my work," he said.
I usually said 'sit down' to all my foreign customers who came to my shop.
"When I was selling at Russian Market I had only few apprentices and now I have more than 10," he says, adding that creating jewellery is not difficult as long as you have the passion for it.
Far away from the small stall at the Russian Market, his shops are now situated at Sihanouk Boulevard and Sisowath Quay but still feature stools for customers to sit on as well as an abundance of gold and silver jewellery with different types of stones.
Most of the stones come from Cambodia, while the satisfied customers come from all over the world.
"My customers are more than 97 percent foreigners and very few are Cambodian. I think it is because Cambodian people do not know my shop, and the foreigners know my shop as their friends or relatives tell them about it," he says.
He has never needed to advertise his businesses because the expat community and tourists have spread the word among themselves, he adds.
"When our products are good we do not need to advertise, the users will promote for us," Mr Sit-Down says with a smile.
Sit-Down also designs and manufactures made-to-order, custom jewellery with various designs - Western, traditional Cambodian and any other - and Hoeu Sareth is very proud of his businesses.
"I have struggled to do my business and now I have success with it. Sometimes I tried to care for my customers until midnight or a whole day without taking rest in order to satisfy the customers," he says.
"It is not only famous because of my name, but it is also the quality and the work of art that I do for the customers according to their wants," he says. "We do not cheat the customers."