krohom, swai, krohom   1 comment

Re-arranging the boutique to make room for new items from our Traffick collection

Between re-arranging our Phnom Penh boutique to make room for new pieces, getting our new washing machine set up, and preparing things for our trip to the states, things have been really crazy and exciting at KeoK’jay these last two weeks.

Genny and the women have been working overtime to get all of our samples ready for LA Fashion Week, where we’ll be launching our new collection, Traffick, next month (more info to come!).

The real adventures and laughs and cries of frustrations, however, have come from trying to fill an order we got from Norway for a few sets of screen-printed table cloths, table runners, and tea towels.

It went something like this:

“It needs to be swai (purple) along this edge (*hand waving and showing on the table cloth*), krohom (red) along this edge (*more waving and demonstrating*) and then a little bit of gom leat (space), and then krohom (*more waving and pointing to the picture of the design*) and swai (*more waving*). Okay?”

“Jah. Okay.”

The tea towels and table runners we've been screen printing this week

“Ack, no, not like that. Krohom *waving and pointing*, then swai, then krohom. Okay?”

“Jah. Okay.”

“Nooooo!! Krohom, swai, krohom. Gom leat. Krohom, swai, krohom, Jah?”

“Jah. Okay.”

“Not there! Not swai! Vutha! Come translate!”

This went on for hours.

What was intended to be a small project, involving only two basic prints, two colors, and minimal sewing, has turned into a week-long, labor-intensive endeavor, requiring the full attention of Ravi and Sam Ahn, Genny and myself, and our manager, Vutha. We have now burned through several meters of the expensive goelle fabric due to mis-cutting and mis-printing and mis-just-about-everything.


Lets call it cultural miscommunication.

Far too late into the process, I realized that none of the women had any idea what a table runner or tea towel even was. They really couldn’t picture what we were trying to make, especially when it involved screen printing several tea towels on one piece of fabric and then cutting it afterwards.  So then I had to explain that in the US and Europe, people put cloth on their tables before they eat. And the women were like “why?” and I was like, “I really don’t know.”

I’ve never thought to question the tradition of putting decorative cloth on a table before a meal, but now that I’m in Cambodia, it seems like a funny thing to take for granted. Why cloth on a table? To spill wine on and feel bad about it?

It inspired me to look up the origins of table cloths and table runners. I found this article pretty entertaining: Hope you enjoy it.

Stay tuned for New York and Los Angeles news!


Posted September 11, 2010 by Sasha in Uncategorized

One response to “krohom, swai, krohom

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  1. This made me giggle! I’ve never thought to question table clothes either!

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