Our Story

our story

Malia Designs was founded by two socially conscious, entrepreneurial women, Lia Valerio and Maria Forres Opdycke. Our idea was to bridge the gap between isolated producers in the developing world and Western consumers.

The vision of Malia Designs was long in the making. Lia traveled through Southeast Asia in 2000, following her service in the Peace Corps, and Maria visited the region in 2005. Despite the five years that had passed between our visits, we both witnessed the horrors of Human Trafficking firsthand while in Cambodia and recognized the need for the nation’s women to have a safe, secure source of income.

While international recognition of the issue and efforts to prosecute sex tourism have grown in recent years, sexual slavery is still pervasive in Cambodia. Access to alternative income through the creation of handicrafts is an immediate and practical way for women to earn a living, lessening their vulnerability to prostitution and Human Trafficking, and to foster economic growth in the region.

In addition to positively affecting the lives of our producers, we aim to empower our socially conscious customers with information they can use to help combat Human Trafficking around the world. Through your purchase of Malia Designs, you too can “Carry the Cause.”