Fashion boutique lends a hand to the less fortunate

Fashion boutique lends a hand to the less fortunate

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Lauren Iida (left) and Rachel Faller have opened Circle, a new boutique in the Alley West area of Siem Reap.

Two young, tattooed American girls have opened the latest boutique, named Circle, in the increasingly fashionable Alley West area of Siem Reap. Rachel Faller, 23, and Lauren Iida, 25, joined forces in Phnom Penh and have expanded northward with Circle, which opened on Wednesday.

The boutique will sell clothing and accessories supplied by Rachel and Lauren’s separate Phnom Penh-based social enterprises. Keo K’jay, started by Rachel, provides jobs for HIV positive women, who manufacture handmade clothing and accessories from recycled and sustainable materials. Lauren’s project, called Iida, provides housing, literacy classes and a fair salary to disadvantaged, rural women for manufacturing clothing made from vintage fabric.

Rachel and Lauren – both art school graduates – design all of the fashion items that their enterprises produce, and almost all are one-of-a-kind. Rachel already has a shop in Phnom Penh called Keo K’jay that carries her products and some of Lauren’s.

The two women had already established their respective projects before they met in Phnom Penh. “We’d heard about each other because our projects were similar and one day I walked into her store,” said Lauren.

“This shop is going to have a different feeling though because our products are going to be married together,” said Rachel, who describes her style as more funky and urban, and Lauren’s as classic and feminine.

The young designer also feels that temple town is the perfect place to showcase their wares. “Siem Reap’s just got a really cool vibe for artists and designers, especially on this street,” Rachel said.

Circle will host an opening party tomorrow night from 7-10pm with free drinks, cupcakes and gifts.

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