From Abandoned Animal Horns to Internationally Recognized Products​

SOMONEA Khmer Hand Made is a name of a small crafting business that collects abandoned animal horns and turn thems into souvenirs, household decoration, and beautity jewelry. This business was started by a construction worker. 

Try Sokchan previously worked as a construction worker in Thailand for 3 years and in Cambodia for 7 years. Because the physical nature of the work and an apathetic boss began to take toll on him, he had an idea on his animal horns handcrafted skills about which he had previously learned. Because of his love of the craft and his desire to start his own business, he decided to quit his job as a construction worker and started his craft professionally.

In 2003, his horn-making craft began its business. The first types of products were house decorations such as sculptures of flamingos, crabs and some other animals. All of these products were usually sent for sales in souvenir shops. However, because this was still a new business, the products did not garner much support from the locals but little support from foreign tourists.

Replying to BizKhmer, Mrs. Khoun Chenda, Mr. Try Sokchan's, provided details on how the products began getting recognized and gained orders from international market in 2008. Back then, foreign customers designed the products, and she was responsible for the production. However, she could not produce and sell such designs in the market.

It is extremely difficult to craft horns into products because it takes time and the horns harvested must be turned into products immediately before they become unusable. Moreover, not every abandoned horn could be made into beautiful crafts as their colors played an important part in the production process. 

Sadly, the economic recession led reduction in international orders and the support from international market has continued to decline to this day. Consequently, for the past 2 years, Mrs. Chenda has tried to explore and chosen horns products to present at different fairs, receiving some praise and attention from local tourists.

Previously, Mrs. Chenda did not support her husband’s business at all because the products produced bad odors before their completion. But, seeing her husband’s love for the craft and tenacity, she began showing him support and helped find market for his products.

Mrs. Chenda mentioned, "I saw that my husband really loves his craft. So, I decided to help register his business with the Ministry of Commerce as well as show other Cambodians his craft that we are capable of producing products with local raw materials."

Mrs. Chenda and Mr. Sokchan hope to help those living in remote areas learn horn-crafting skills because there may be left-over horns and bones from their daily consumption so that they can recycle to produce something creative and eco-friendly.

By: Sam Seiha