How we Began

Acala Stem was founded after I couldn’t find an eye pillow that was ethically-made and all-natural plant based fibres. An eye pillow needs a pure fabric that feels amazing, is incredible for the skin and with minimal impact on our earth.

I soon discovered the ancient traditions of weaving the microfibres from a lotus stem. For centuries, this magnificent fabric has only been worn by Buddhist monks and the highest royalty throughout Indochina.

One Sunday afternoon, around the lotus lakes of Melbourne's Botanical Gardens. I (accidentally) cracked a stem open, and there it was. This delicate microfibre from inside the lotus stem, just like I'd read about. I rolled it with my fingers and there was the yarn in my hands.


 I then travelled back to my favourite destination of Cambodia so I could discover first-hand, how this exquisite fabric is made.

This fabric on my skin gave an instant calm, with its softness and cooling fibres. I knew I'd found something special.

For centuries eastern philosophers have sworn by the lotus’s remedial healing abilities, which they believe can aid the treatment of anxiety, fertility, headaches, heart ailments, asthma and lung issues. And I could see why.

Watch how the lotus fabric is made in our 3 minute video below:

Acala Stem have a strong partnership with a textile social enterprise in Cambodia, empowering women with working from home with their children, avoiding long travel times, with a good wage, flexible working conditions, and a path to financial independence. The same we expect for our own friends and family. 

Since our launch in April 2020 we've already helped re-employ over 60 women with the growing worldwide demand for our organic face coverings. We've also donated back just over 350 of our own masks to The Salvation Army Australia and St Kilda Mums. Our goal is to employ 500 women in Cambodia by 2025.

I have a deep connection with Cambodia and its people, having lived there previously as a volunteer English teacher in Phnom Penh and in a rural Community. This changed me forever, and set me on a new path.


It was here that I experienced first hand, the real cost of our fast fashion industry and who really is paying for it, so we can buy cheap goods. I heard real stories of unimaginable poverty. People that I called my friends, living in the very worst of conditions. I witnessed scenes that I still can’t repeat to my own loved ones to this day.

In Cambodia, many people living in the provinces are forced to endure long travel times to the city and work long hours, forcing them to place children in long-term, unregulated childcare centres we call “orphanages”. 

Currently, there are more than 20,000 children living in these horrific conditions in Cambodia alone. Right now, the situation is becoming much worse.

The rights and conditions of the workers in Cambodia and around the world urgently need to change, and they can. Beginning at the hands of us – the brands. Then onto you, as a consumer.

My journey to Cambodia began 10 years ago, and is still unfolding to this very day. It will never leave me, which is why Acala Stem is so important to me.

I want to see the developing world thrive. It was there that I learnt our fellow humans and our planet need to be the priority for everything we do.

This is the foundation for our business. 

All my love,

Leanne Savage
Founder, Acala Stem