#13 Bossing a fashion line- the city, Cambodia and designer coats with Leah Rodrigues from Holi

“I was spat at, abused and told I would never work in this town again… but it made sense to me and the women I wanted to help.”

In this episode, we discuss fashion, business and social impact with my guest – Leah Rodrigues- the founder of Holi, a premium outerwear fashion line for women.

She was one of four raised by a single mother who instilled what I call graft! Born in New Zealand and turning up in London with a bag and a couple of hundred pounds, she worked literally any job to the pay the bills to be able to start her own designer coat line, Holi.

After spending time out in Cambodia where she found that local women wanted to be able to care for their family, security and skills, she couldn’t quite square how charity handouts were actually negatively impacting the working economy there. Yet at the same time profit can be a dirty word in NGO communities. Despite pushback from the expat community- she was abused, kicked out of places, spat on- she ploughed through and runs Holi Studios-  a training and manufacturing clothing plant in Cambodia which produces for Holi and other fashion brands selling in the West. In this episode we’ll hear:

  • The story of how Holi is more than a high quality coat and empowers women in a manufacturing micro-economy in Siem Reap, Cambodia;
  • With no designer background, or formal fashion experience – how Leah used her operational skills and international experience to create a high-end fashion company;
  • Lastly, how her attempts to stalk Samantha Cameron at a Number 10 event she was invited to went..and whether she was able to get the Holi coat on her!
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