Photography by: Rita McNeill of Kunthear and Hanna, Dorsu Co-Founders, words by Hanna Guy
As with so many companies, the impact of COVID-19 on Dorsu was serious. Our growth has been exponential over the past few years and 2020 was set to be the year that we settled in, a more stable and strategic year focused on bringing our brand to new places across the world.
The best way to describe the feeling as it happened was as if someone came into our office and flipped our table over, all pieces flying up into the air while we scrambled to decide which pieces to catch and which pieces to let fall. We made quick decisions, closed our retail stores, knuckled down and committed to update our community with honesty as we decided what to do.
2020 has still been a big year and has involved us making a successful pivot to producing face masks, where our long-term customers made intentional orders knowing they would help to get us through. We rapidly grew our online presence and welcomed wonderful new customers into our community. We’ve been featured by The BBC on The Conversation alongside one of our heroes, sustainable fashion pioneer Safia Minney, and also in the newly released docuseries The Conscience of Clothing who are rapidly collecting nominations and awards across the world.
Mostly, we kept our engines running and our team safe, something we’re deeply proud of.
As we began to breathe and look to Dorsu’s future, Kunthear and I decided that the next chapter of Dorsu’s long journey should be led by someone other than us. A small part of this decision was understandably exhaustion, while the greater influence was a proud understanding that we had built a secure foundation for the right person to take to a new level.
Naturally while making such a significant decision we’ve reflected on our journey involving challenges that one really can’t explain in a blog, and triumphs we couldn’t have possibly imagined ever achieving. We started as two friends wanting to build “something” that proved business could be kind. We created a manufacturing label that allows all people, from an online shopper buying a dress through to companies purchasing thousands of t-shirts, to gain a unique insight into how clothes are and can be made.
We’ve collaborated and produced so many incredible projects such as our gender inclusivity in tech collection with Atlassian, who have become a long-term partner striving to lead the way in sustainable supply chains. We've won awards, with a special highlight including Kunthear, while being named The Women of The Future SouthEast Asia Social Entrepreneur, telling hundreds of women in a ballroom in Singapore that "all young girls should know they can do anything."
All of our achievements have been directly influenced by our community, partners, customers and friends sharing a belief in our dream and our approach to ethical fashion. We’ve always been a values-based company, prioritising transparency, bravery and a desire to improve the Cambodian garment industry one small piece at a time.
We both feel that we would never have learned or built what we have without being a Cambodian / Australian partnership, the insight is unique and the opportunity grand. So as we met someone with roots and dreams in Cambodia and America, who had long dreamt of creating a similar model, we knew we had found the right person. Handing the reins over to Vanna, who is committed to upholding our foundational values; respect for our world and a dream to run a business for its people is exciting. From your perspective, as our community, it won’t feel too different, and from our side it’s special to know we will both be involved in Dorsu’s future chapters. As the brand grows, evolves and continues to achieve dreams we hope you’ll stick with us all.
Hanna & Kunthear
We would never have come this far without our community of champions cheering us on. Kunthear and I would like to thank you for your belief in us as we built it, and Vanna for your future support.
Yes, we’ve all shared laughs over the name similarity between Hanna and Vanna and as we handed Vanna keys to the building Kunthear proudly said to him “this is a new chapter in the same book”.