Helene Ang

After working many years in corporate marketing in large multinational companies, Helene wanted to pursue her passion in creating artisanal textiles and handcrafted goods. An Australian of Cambodian descent, both her and her parents were survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime. They had to sell or leave behind most of their treasured personal possessions during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. However her mother was able to salvage her collection of beautiful silk KBENs and HOLs.  KBEN is a traditional Cambodian garment worn by men and women and HOL as it's known in Cambodia is a resist hand dyeing technique used to create one-of-a-kind patterns on silk. It was these unique and intricately woven pieces of textile that was what inspired her to launch KBEN & HOL to help revive the highly skilled art of traditional weaving in Cambodia and bring the technique and artistry of this community from remote villages to the world.

In fact, the first design in their Heritage collection, Vintage Kissing Peacocks, was created from her mother’s collection of antique silk KBEN and HOL. Many people might not be aware that Cambodia has a long and rich history in traditional silk weaving. Unfortunately, many artisans with this skill were persecuted during the Khmer Rouge regime and as a result, the art is dying. Helene later learnt that many silk weavers/artisans in Cambodia were abandoning their craft for more regular employment but not necessarily better working conditions at large garment factories in the bigger cities.

KBEN & HOL is an artisanal textiles and lifestyle store. Working closely with skilled artisans throughout the design process, KBEN & HOL’s pieces are defined by original patterns, naturals materials and small batch production. The collection includes home furnishings and textiles that use high-quality, handwoven and hand-dyed fabrics, merging traditional craft with contemporary design.  A close collaboration with local communities and partners in Cambodia and Asia ensures that each piece is ethically produced.  This involves providing sustainable income for their female artisans and empowering them to further develop and promote their skills. Their products have been stocked in luxury retail stores including Lane Crawford and most recently, Secoo in China.