Recently Samatoa founder Awen Delaval made an astonishing discovery about the humble lotus flower – it could be turned into eco-friendly clothes. And now those clothes are being produced at a new lotus farm about five kilometres from town.
Samatoa’s Lotus Farm, on the road to Phnom Krom and overlooking a stunning six-hectare lotus flower expanse, opened last week and shows visitors the harvesting, spinning and weaving process of the lotus stem fibre as it’s transformed into thread.
Delaval, general manager of fair trade silks manufacturer Samatoa, says the company had been inundated with requests from travel agents wanting to take guests to the main farm near Battambang, but this is a long way from town and difficult to visit, and the workshop was also destroyed by flooding.
“It was an opportunity for us to have an alternative to Battambang,” he says. “At the moment we only have three spinners and two weavers, but we plan to bring ten more spinners in the next two months.
“In one day a girl can produce 200 metres on average of thread. We need 3,000 metres to make one metre of fabric, so one girl usually can produce enough thread to produce one metre per month.”
This makes the luxury jackets produced by the Lotus Farm incredibly exclusive – and expensive. Delaval explains that one of Samatoa’s main objectives is to connect the poorer people of Cambodia to the luxury market. “If a customer buys one jacket, he gives a girl a job for four months,” he says.
In April, Insider reported that lotus jackets expected to sell for around $3,000-$5,000 were being made for a high-end concept store in Hong Kong. This store turns out to be owned by Hong Kong businessman Sir David Tang and is due to open on November 16.
Delaval says he has produced 20 jackets and they will go on sale when the Hong Kong store opens.
“We also have some more very good news,” he adds. “We have been contacted by a very famous designer in France called Sakina M’sa. She’s very happy to collaborate with Samatoa and will come next month to design a collection for Samatoa, and to promote lotus clothing in France through her fashion shows.”
Lotus Farm also has on display a collection of by-products derived from the lotus plant such as incense, tea, coffee, lip-balm and assorted bath products.
“I think the best products are lotus tea and lotus stamen coffee,” says Delaval. “We mix the stamens with coffee from Ratanakiri and it creates a unique taste. I’ve never seen it anywhere else and people usually really like it.
“We will also introduce a new collection of jewellery made from lotus fibres in different colours.”.