Category Archives: Phnom Penh

End of summer new year

As a kid, I always looked forward to September, since it seemed to be the second new year of the year.  I would quietly make September resolutions in the hopes that maybe seventh grade would be better than sixth.  (It never was.)  Since I’ve tried to erase much of my junior high and high school years from my memory, I don’t remember all these vows, but I do recall something about trying hard to be a bit tidier and definitely more organized.

Here at Three Stone Steps we don’t sell any real back to school items, but we do have  fair trade, ethically sourced silks and cottons to keep you organized.

Our fantastic silk wallets and cotton wallets are beautiful, functional, and come with tons of compartments.  You could use one compartment for your U.S. greenbacks, and one for your bills in another currency.  Or one compartment for your bills and one for your receipts.  Or, as one delighted customer exclaimed, “I love these.  I can keep the denominations separate!”

The silk screen on silk wallets are luminous and lovely, and fairly handcrafted in Cambodia.

black and gray silk wallet If you’re looking for something equally lovely, but with a bit of more durability, the same wallet comes in a slightly different pattern and in cotton.

silk screen on cotton walletAnd, while we’ve embraced the electronic world, we’re always delighted when people hand out real paper business cards.  We’ll admit to be a tad shocked, shocked when someone who goes though the trouble of carrying business cards doesn’t go through the trouble of having a place to keep them.  (We recall one Very Important Political Person pulling out her cards that were held together with a red rubber band.)

If you want to forgo the business cards held together by a red rubber band look, we can help with a lovely silk screen on silk business card case:


silver silk business card case

Whether or not you need to stay (or get) organized, enjoy the fresh start that comes with the end of summer and the arrival of fall.



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Filed under Cambodia, cotton wallet, fair trade, fashion accessories, Phnom Penh, silk, silk screen, silk wallet, wallets

Back by popular demand: silk & cotton wallets

It’s been a while since we’ve had them, but there’s a new page featuring silk and cotton wallets right here.

Oh, and while publishing, I lost my homepage, so there’s a new one here, too.

More coming soon.


silver and black silk wallet

pretty elegant, huh?

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Filed under back, Cambodia, cotton, fair trade, new products, Phnom Penh, silk, wallets

Just words

I just made a Wordle from the words in my yet to be published “about” page of my almost redone website. It’s quite small, but it seems that if you click on it, you’ll get a better view.

Wordle: Untitled

Now that I’ve manged to blog, there are some upcoming shows to report:

Tomorrow, Saturday, I’m at Stevenson University, at their Owings Mills Campus, from 11-3 for a shopping event that benefits the senior class.

Sunday, March 13, I head down to DC and peddle my wares at Eastern Market for the day. And, I’m hoping not to contend with the March winds.

And, Saturday, the 19th, outside in Baltimore at the Waverly or 32nd Street Market, from 7 until noon. It’ll still be March and I hope there still won’t be winds.

This is just the start of the season. Hope to see you out and about, or online, if I ever manage to publish the revised site. (Of course, feel free to browse & buy on the existing site.)

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Filed under artisans, Cambodia, fair trade, Phnom Penh, recycled, recycling, shows

Miss Landmine and other "beauty" contests

The always interesting site, Global Voices, had an especially fascinating post about the Miss Landmine contest being canceled in Cambodia. As detailed in a statement in The Mirror, an overview the Khmer language press, The Ministry of Social Affairs Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation does not support the Miss Landmine contest, because it can create misunderstandings among the public towards the honor of disabled people, especially of disabled women. And, while I might not have worded it that way, I definitely agree.

Let me give some background. Many, if not most, of Three Stone Steps products are made in Cambodia. And, most are made by landmine and polio victims. In fact, Three Stone Steps’ silk and cotton producer has horribly disfigured hands due to something that happened to her during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror. She has never showed the slightest bit of discomfort with her appearance. In fact, why not just let you see her? (She’s the one in the gray shirt, and apologies for the bad photo of her):

Now for a very long aside:

Whether I like it or not, Three Stone Steps, which sells bags, wallets, scarves, and jewelry rolls, etc., is part of the “fashion” industry, or at least part of the “fashion accessory” industry. And, as a progressive and “green” business, I often gasp when some of my “eco-fashion” cohorts shoot photos of their organic cotton shirts or bamboo bamboo bags using conventional fashion magazine models and poses. Really, the way I look at it, if you’re going to take on conventional clothes and accessories, you may as well take on the conventional way that they’re shown.

But, now back to the the Miss Landmine contest. According to an article in The Guardian last year, the pageant was started by a male film and theater director from Norway. (According to the article, Norwegians find beauty pageants very “politically incorrect.” And, while I wouldn’t use a loaded term like “political correctness,” I also find them sexist and dehumanizing.) The pageant organizer thought that juxtaposition of a pageant and landmines was theatrical. He’s right. It got attention. It got me to write a blog post on it. But, of course, that doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s just as exploitative as regular beauty pageants, and on top of that, it reinforces Western notions of beauty.

So, in honor of the canceled Miss Landmine Pageant, below are pictures of some of the truly beautiful women who create Three Stone Steps’ products:

Except for the final photo, all of these photos are taken in the outskirts of Phnom Penh:

At the sewing machine:

Sewing beads on jewelry roll by hand:
Sewing by hand and by daylight:
Silk dyer, Takeo Province:


Filed under bamboo, Cambodia, jewlery rolls, messenger bags, Phnom Penh, silk

New samples have arrived

Due to the magic of high speed travel, I have some new samples, or prototypes, if you like.

Here’s a sneak peak of what’s in store:

A new material. Three Stone Steps will now be carrying three items made in woven, used plastic bags. People in Phnom Penh collect these overly ubiquitous bags, and they are then provided with soap to wash them, and dry them in the sun. They are then paid for their work, and then recycled into great bags. Here’s a detail that I hope just doesn’t look like a great black blob:

(Ok. I’ll admit it, IT does sort of look like a great black rectangle. But, please look closely! )

Other than that, these mosquito net products will be offered in colors that Three Stone Steps has previously carried:

  • silver;
  • copper;
  • green;
  • blue, and;
  • yellow.
The new products have been made by Three Stone Steps in partnership with the producer in Phnom Penh, and will include:

  • a women’s bag, probably called The Lovely Luna Bag;
  • the Fellini Pannolini & Messenger bag (and, you’ll just have to wait for details on that one!)
  • a man’s billfold/wallet, and;
  • a fantastic flat cross-body bag for men and women.

Of course, there will be more details and photos and prices, but, just wanted to give you a bit of a sneak peek preview. Please check back!

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Filed under messenger bags, mosquito net, Phnom Penh, recycled, wallets

Yes We Can….or a happy Friday post

I’ve realized here at the superduper worldwide word headquarters at Three Stone Steps that my blog postings have been a little bit depressing. Well, I don’t know about you, but they are depressing me: all this talk of blood diamonds and un-fair trade roses, and unabashed consumerism for Valentine’$ Day. This is not to mention my preoccupation with how the superdelegates work for the Democratic Party, what the polls have been saying with regard to the upcoming election, and the super huge pile of trash on the bottom of the ocean.

Well, it was not that long ago that I was at the ocean, ok, the sea, ok, a gulf, specifically, The Gulf of Thailand, where I had some r&r after working so hard to find the perfect eco-chic fashion accessories, including some new bags and wallets made from repurposed and recycled mosquito netting, and new cosmetic bags in silk, and cotton traveler and messenger bags in great new colors.

I chilled, a bit, in Phu Quoc. Now, Three Stone Steps is of the belief that photos of sunsets are part of the unholy trinity of trite subjects for travel photos, along with fireworks, and waterfalls. (Actually, rainbows falls into that category as well, but four just doesn’t fit.) But, I can’t resist, on the winter Friday, posting a photo of a lovely sunset from the beach.

There. Don’t you feel just a bit better and a bit relaxed?
I knew you would.

For my non-beach time of this trip, I did get to spend some quality time with the artisans who produce the silk and cotton products I sell. I met with these workers in their house–a very modest house, where each family had their own room, own area for cooking, and a shared bathroom. On the Three Stone Steps website I will talk further about the workers who make Three Stone Steps’ great fashion accessories, and will go into detail at another time on this blog. But, for this happy Friday, Yes We Can thread, I’d prefer to show you all a photo of a lunch outing a had with the workers.

We shared food, and drink, and smiles. I shared postcards that I brought with me of Beautiful Baltimore, Maryland, USA, home of Three Stone Steps’ global hq. We talked, as best we could, about Chinese horoscopes–for some reason, someone thought that I had to be a dragon…..and hair. A fun outing. I would do this weekly if I were only a bit closer.

I’ll be back soon with more tales from Asia and the workers who produce Three Stone Steps’ great items, and whatever thoughts (and, I promise to rein in all the doom and gloom ones) I have on the general state of everything.


Filed under beach, eco-chic, fair trade, fashion accessories, Phnom Penh

And now I’m back, from outspace….

…ok. I’ve been back for a few hours under a week now. And, so much I missed here on this Three Stone Steps blog: I missed Chinese New Years and Vietnamese New Years, or Tet. In honor of the holidays, I present this photo from Singapore’s Chinatown. What this has to do with the new year of the Rat, I’m not certain, but it’s a fun and festive and a little scary reminder of a huge holiday elsewhere in the U.S.

I’m home long enough that I’m back to work, and getting low on inventory and waiting to replenish it. In case you’re wondering, I’m very low on the mosquito netting messenger bags. Very few of these are available, and in very select colors. I’m also currently low on the cotton messenger bags with the lovely Khmer pattern. More are coming soon, in some very great colors. Although I hoped, as mentioned below, to find more great handbags, messenger bags, wallets, and scarves from all over the region, all my ordering has come, so far, from Phnom Penh. If you’ve not been, here’s a picture of the Independence Monument there. A really fantastic landmark, although mild confusion at times about exactly which turn off it is for my guesthouse!

As usual, being in S.E. Asia gave me loads to think about with regards to fashion accessories, and products, and designs and colors. Next to my hotel in Singapore, there was a great, historic Buddhist temple. The street was full of flower sellers, and most of them were selling lotus flowers in various stages of bloom. Of course, my little cosmetic bag (currently on sale!) and my business card holders (also on sale) and the lovely Angkor Bag are all based on the lotus pattern, which are the lovely flowers shown on the left.

Finally, I’m back from outerspace in time to vote in the Potomac or Chesapeake or Crabcake Primary. Very exciting election and very exciting time.

I’ll provide more updates on my new products and new colors as I receive them. And, back to work for the rest of the day, until I can stick around and be my nerdy self and keep tabs on the election results as they come in.

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Filed under angkor bag, business card holder, cosmetic bag, election, mosquito net, Phnom Penh, Singapore