Powering an unassuming pop-up store in Swanson St, where you’ll discover a lively display of upcycled luggage and components, is a extraordinary story of resilience and hope.

Koky Saly, the founder of Beekeeper Parade, was born in a Cambodian prison in 1976, exactly where his mother experienced been incarcerated alongside with other expecting females during the country’s civil war.

Koky stayed with his mother in jail for the initial three years of his everyday living, although his eldest surviving sister took treatment of his siblings in a remote village though their father was imprisoned at an unknown locale.

After the war ended, Koky’s family members were lucky to have reunited which resulted in them smuggling across the border to Thailand the place they stayed at a refugee camp.  

“My eldest sister didn’t make it by way of the war, but 8 of us came on the plane,” Koky explained after they landed in Melbourne in 1980, when he was aged 3.

“People retain stating I was fortunate, but this isn’t completely genuine. We survived mainly because of cared more than enough to help. These kinds of as, Australians, combating for our flexibility and asylum.”

Now, with a Grasp of Global Progress below his belt, Koky is the very pleased owner of his social enterprise business, which has observed extra than 55 tonnes of trend squander applied to generate pleasurable, bold, and simple luggage and equipment which includes backpacks made of buttoned up shirts.   

The company started off from humble beginnings of advertising objects at university fetes and markets, and some gross sales initially on line, just before Koky got his large crack of opening a pop-up shop in Fitzroy and afterwards Melbourne Central in 2016, “where we started out expanding really fast”.

Now located at 174 Swanston St, which Beekeeper Parade has termed residence because November final yr thanks to the Town of Melbourne’s shopfront activation system, Koky explained he was certainly grateful for the possibility, and a single in which he endeavoured to maintain building items that “change the world” by not harming the atmosphere. 

The Docklands resident is also grateful for owning developed a everyday living in Australia – which has seen him direct initiatives of developing 5 faculties in Cambodia by crowdfunding campaigns and his charity called BabyTree Tasks, which he started with his sister Sophia.  

Regrettably, he misplaced his sister to most cancers in 2012. But given that then, Koky has kept her memory alive by honouring instructions in her will, in which she left her vehicle with him to provide and use the cash to produce a small business that would encourage improve and assist help the continued operate of BabyTree Projects. 

This observed Boy & Bee born in 2012, prior to the title was adjusted to BeeKeeper in 2014, which remained his passion task. 

As for what tomorrow brings, Koky claimed, “We could fly, or we could fall. I genuinely hope we get to fly”. 


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