Culver City-based Company Net Effects Traders brings Cambodia Closer to California
Net Effects Traders, a company based in Culver City, is working to help empower women in Cambodia by selling fair-trade bags here in the United States. The company was founded four years ago by Ardice Farrow and provides both a product as well as an opportunity for all involved.
The idea for Net Effects Traders began while Farrow was volunteering in Cambodia following her retirement. She worked for a nonprofit in the slums as well as the country’s capitol, Phnom Penh, and saw first hand what women in the country were up against.
“One of my jobs was developing with my Cambodian staff, empowerment and education programs for women who were in fair trade garment centers, and making good wages,” Farrow said. “So I really got to see the difference between the women in the slums who are waiting for hand-outs and hoping to get help from nonprofits, and the women who have jobs.”
Jobs don’t just provide the women with more money to help their families, but they also give the women much needed self-confidence and a sense of empowerment.
When her job ended Farrow decided to create a product that was sellable in the United States but made in Cambodia. Martin Feinberg, Realtor, was not surprised that she returned to the Culver City Real Estate area to accomplish her goal.
“I approached a very small company there, Peace Handicrafts, that made these net bags that I love,” Farrow said. “The owner of the company was a Cambodian woman called Yek Hong Tang, who had been trained in Australia and she had come back to Cambodia about 12 years ago to train hearing-impaired, polio and landmine victims, and disenfranchised moms, to give them a good trade and then provide good working conditions and fair wage jobs. She’s my design and production partner in Cambodia. She’s an incredible designer, she has a great production staff, the quality of the workmanship is perfect all the time, everything is on time, and all the orders are on time and shipped appropriately.”
The bags are made from recycled material and are Proposition 65 (The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act) compliant so there is no lead or hazardous dyes or materials.
Farrow also did not want to work through a nonprofit anymore.
“I really saw the value of nonprofits for urgent care and all of that, but I also saw the dependency,” she said. “I became an advocate of trade instead of aid. The other thing I became a big advocate of is ‘partnership instead of philanthropy.’ We’re all partners and everyone has a different talent and skill, but we’re all contributing to the same end result.”
The women who create the bags are not given any favors. Farrow wants people to be aware that the women produce an in-demand product and she partners with them to sell it here. Everyone benefits from the professional relationship and the women are treated with the respect they deserve.
“In our design and production studios, the staff is relatively small compared to the big garment factories over there,” Farrow said. “They have really lovely surroundings, the staff has a shorter week than most people who work in garment centers, and definitely a higher wage. They can also move up, so many people who started as craftsmen are now managers or supervisors, or working in the office or small shops. So there’s lots of mobility based on people’s skillset.”
Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor, wish Farrow and Net Effects Traders much success. For those interested in purchasing a bag from Net Effects, visit www.neteffectstraders.com. Anyone using the code “CCNews” through June 30 will get a 10% discount on their order.