Name: Kai Kuramoto
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Cambodia: I'm originally from Chicago, Illinois in the States. I've lived here for 6 years.
Tell us about your favourite place in Siem Reap: There are a number of places that I absolutely love in Siem Reap but the temples are always great to visit. I have a few favorite temples I enjoy visiting but the most memorable is a small one near my home. Even during busy season, this temple stays quiet yet it is one of the most beautiful in my opinion. Sorry, I'm not going to tell you where it is!
When did you launch Cleanbodia: We launched Cleanbodia in 2015 in Siem Reap.
What’s the story or inspiration behind your brand: During my first year in Siem Reap, I heard so many people talk about trips they had taken to Cambodia and how amazing it was except for all the plastic everywhere. I would often find myself upset that plastic was hiding so much beauty. I realized that if I didn't try to do something to fix this issue then I didn't have much place to complain about it. I quickly decided that a biodegradable alternative was needed for all the plastic bags being used in the Kingdom and Cleanbodia was born.
Where does the name Cleanbodia come from: Before we started the business, I wanted to make sure there would be enough interest in a biodegradable alternative. I entered a "startup weekend" where teams have 72 hours to come up with a business plan and pitch it to potential investors. With all the work that went into it, I never really thought about a name. So, at the last minute I just put the only name that came to my head. I'm sure there were better options but Cleanbodia seemed to stick!
Out of all your products, which one is your favourite and why: A favourite? Hmmm......maybe the Large Garbage Bags. No matter how plastic free a person or business attempts to be, finding a solution to gather and dispose of waste in a sanitary way is really difficult. Almost every business, school, or NGO can lessen their amount of plastic pollution by using our biodegradable garbage bags!
What’s the plan for the next year for Cleanbodia: We plan on adding more sizes of our bio bags, possibly 3 more in the next year, and increase our presence in all the provinces. As well, we will continue growing our custom bag orders for businesses that have needs for large quantities of branded bags, such as supermarket chains and convenience stores.
Name one thing you cannot find in Cambodia and that you miss: Snow! Not only do I miss the cold weather that comes with snow but I even miss shoveling it after a winter night. I imagine I'll regret saying this if I ever move to a cold climate again.
If you could have any product from the SATU collection (other than your own), what would it be: Oooh, that's tough. There are so many great products available now that weren't here even 5 years ago. I love to cook and I love to eat so if I had to choose one, it would be the Haven cookbook. Anyone that's been to Haven knows just how great their food is!
What was the last gift you gave someone: I've been sending books to friends and family this year while most of them are in lockdown. But my go-to gifts typically come from Kingdom of Wow as people rave about their products.
After answering these questions, you walk outside and find $1,000 on your doorstep. What would you spend it on: While I'd be tempted to buy a lot of Ben and Jerry's ice cream at the supermarket, I'd want to help out people who have lost work due to the lack of tourists in Siem Reap. Covid-19 has brought tourism to a standstill here and we need to find a way to get the local economy through this period until people return to Angkor Wat. So maybe 1 quart of ice cream for me while I come up with a plan to donate the rest.