About Us

Malia Designs was formed in 2005 to increase economic opportunity for women in Cambodia and to support organizations that fight human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Our fair trade accessories are made by small social enterprises that employ talented artisans in Cambodia. Through these partnerships we connect our maker partners to Western markets, expanding their access to sustainable income and safe and dignified working conditions.

Our Business Model

Since the very beginning, our primary mission has been to provide a sustainable source of income to our  partners—lessening their vulnerability and enabling them to break the cycle of poverty. Malia Designs accomplishes this using a three-pronged business model.

01. Malia Designs’ products are made by small social enterprises that employ marginalized people in Cambodia – primarily at-risk women and the disabled.

02. We offer high-quality, fashion-forward accessories that pair lively designs with contemporary styling using materials sourced locally in Cambodia. Our fair trade production and frequent use of recycled materials are also good for the planet.

03. Malia Designs extends its mission even further by donating to nonprofit organizations fighting human trafficking in Cambodia and in the US.

Sustainable Sourcing (of course!)

All of the materials we use to create our bags, wallets and other various designs are sourced locally in Camboida. Our recycled products are crafted from used plastic sacks that once housed grain, rice or cement powder. These sacks are made of a tightly woven plastic that is strong, lightweight and water resistant, so perfect to sew with! The cotton canvas we use to create many of our most popular designs is sourced from small sellers that sell deadstock or leftover rolls of fabrics from garment production in Cambodia. It is challenging at times to find enough of this fabric in desired colorways, but so rewarding to create fun and fashionable accessories from materials that might otherwise be landfilled. Doesn't get much more sustainable than that!

Our Impact

Since partnering with Malia Designs, our partner groups have increased both the size of their work force and their artisans’ salaries. Over the past 19 years, we have provided grants and loans that have enabled our artisan groups to purchase new equipment, implement new training programs, and expand and open two new workshops. As our business has grown, so has theirs!

Malia Designs’ philanthropic efforts take the fight against human trafficking a step further by donating to organizations that fight child trafficking. Together with Stop Traffick, our non-profit philanthropic arm, we have donated over $185,000 to organizations in Cambodia and the US that fight human trafficking.


Our Team

We are proud to have a small, but mighty US-based team that leads our design process and handles all daily operations and sales and marketing duties. Lia Valerio (pictured on the left), founded Malia in 2005 and for well over a decade led the operations and direction of the brand before recently handing over the reins to Lucia Ruth (on the right), who became a partner in 2014 and is so proud to continue the mission of Malia. 

We have been extremely fortunate to have worked with many talented women over the years. They have done amazing textile design work, worked their magic in front of and behind the camera, and staffed many a trade show booth with a smile. We would not be where we are today without their efforts and contributions. And of course, none of what we do would be possible without our customers. We hope that you will join us to empower artisans, fight trafficking, and #CARRYACAUSE!