Menlo Park business: Pop-up shop sells handcrafted goods

The shop will be open Dec. 8, 9 and 10

A pop-up store selling handcrafted goods, mostly from Southeast Asia, will open for three days – Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 8-10 – at 1148 Chestnut St. in downtown Menlo Park. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The store will be operated by Kasumisou Gallery, an online retailer that sells products made by individuals and small workshops in Southeast Asia that would otherwise struggle to sell their creations, according to Mark Rosasco, a co-founder of the business and a resident of Menlo Park.

Between now and Christmas, 20 percent of the merchandise's sales price can be donated to the buyer's choice of about 40 nonprofits or schools in the Bay Area and Southeast Asia (usually, the store donates 10 percent), Mr. Rosasco said. Included on the list are Art in Action, Beechwood School, local education foundations, Menlo School, Menlo College, Menlo-Atherton Cooperative Nursery School, Peninsula School and St. Raymond School.

The for-profit business began in 1999 after Mr. Rosasco and his wife Barbara established the Kasumisou Foundation, a nonprofit that now funds programs to help impoverished children, farmers and women with AIDS and their families in Cambodia, according to its website.

In the course of their philanthropic travels, they met craftspeople who had no way to sell their items, Mr. Rosasco said. The couple began to commission pieces from these craftsmen and later opened a shop in Tokyo to sell their wares.

Now, he and former Citibank colleague Clara Warner, also a Menlo Park resident, work full-time on the online retail site. Their goal is to drive enough sales to keep artisans and their trainees working at their traditional crafts under humane conditions, Mr. Rosasco said.

Often, he said, young women cannot make enough money doing traditional crafts, so they move to cities to work in garment factories, where they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

The pop-up store, for example, will sell silk scarves. They are made in a remote area of eastern Cambodia by two sisters he called "master weavers." They, with their student apprentices, make silk scarves on wooden looms.

The pop-up shop, he said, will give prospective buyers the chance to see the scarves' changing colors. "The colors change if you take it in your hand," he said. "It's a unique experience we can't demonstrate on a website."

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Like this comment
Posted by Parker B
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2016 at 9:54 am

Thank you for such an interesting article about Kasimisou, a most unusual and worthy enterprise.

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