Malyneath Vong’s Global Fashion Mission boutique featuring handmade products at the Open Market OC. Katarina De Almeida/Lariat
Malyneath Vong is the owner of Global Fashion Mission, a boutique that sells environmentally friendly handmade products created by Cambodian artists. She joined the Fair Trade Long Beach, a coalition of activists, advocates and ethical businesses that alleviate poverty through fair trade.
“For my business, Global Fashion Mission, I established it back in April 2016, and the Fair Trade is more of an initiative to prevent human trafficking,” Vong said.
Before she started her business, Vong volunteered her time with the Cambodian Harvest Church in Signal Hill, Long Beach, in the early 2000s. She wanted to help children in Cambodia by providing them with the basics they needed to attend school.
“My first trip to Cambodia was when I was about 25-years-old, and I didn’t want to go back empty-handed, so I raised money to buy the kids, over there in Cambodia, school uniforms and supplies along with toys and things like that,” Vong said.
This inspired Vong to volunteer by raising money for Cambodian children where it eventually flourished into something even bigger.
“I talked to the pastor to see what the need was and see if I was able to fulfill it,” Vong said. “So, I just started a quick campaign for two weeks before leaving and raised enough money to help out 300 kids.”
After her successful fundraiser, Vong came across an environmentally safe and sustainable way in Cambodia to help families design and create upcycled bags.
“I have always wanted to create something where I can give back and potentially have them sustain themselves,” Vong said. “Basically, back in 2012, when I returned the second or third time. I was there for my brother’s wedding and discovered these used upcycled bags and I thought it was an amazing idea that would be a great hit here in the states.”
Vong realized that she could make a bigger difference with her passion for helping others as she learned more about the problems of human trafficking in Cambodia. She reached out to the individuals who made the original upcycled bags and partnered with them to expand their product line and bring on more workers.
“They’re just families, men and women throughout Cambodia living throughout different villages or remote areas and we provide them with the opportunity to work and that’s our prevention,” Vong said. “We prevent them from being exploited and provide them with the means to be sustainable.”
Vong’s hard work has enabled her to make connections with Fair Trade Long Beach, Project Missionary Position, The River of Life Church in Cambodia and Women for Women Foundation. One of her boutiques is currently located at the Open Market OC in Laguna Hills.
The market features over 200 local artists and small businesses.