In many ways, Khine Alkhal has made it her mission in life to make the world a “khineder” place.
The owner of Emmaus-based Khineder Creations, a retail store specializing in all-natural, chemical-free, handmade skin and hair care products made in the United States, Alkhal said she initially got involved in the business as a financial backer.
“I started as an investor with the intention to help a local mom and her daughter that are interested in making organic lip balms and soaps,” Alkhal recalled.
“It transformed into a social enterprise where I can reach out to more moms, especially those that have been victims of domestic violence.”
Khineder Creations began as an online store in September 2016, opening its brick-and-mortar location on the Triangle in Emmaus in January.
Alkhal, who was born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and moved to the U.S. in 2013, brings a rare background to her role as a retail entrepreneur.
“I have a Ph.D. in human security from the University of Tokyo and have worked with the Association for Southeast Asian Nation as a senior officer for social welfare, women, labor and migrant workers, where I dealt with governments and local communities from 10 different ASEAN countries,” she said.
Many of the atrocities Alkhal witnessed during her doctoral research and working for ASEAN – including sex and arms trafficking, drug smuggling and domestic violence – led her to create a business with a social mission.
Erin DeLong, marketing director and restoration manager with ServiceMaster of Allentown and chair of the Emmaus Main Street Partners, said she particularly appreciates the special insight and diversity that Alkhal brings to Emmaus.
“Through her many humanitarian efforts worldwide, she conveys a perspective captured only by the eyes of firsthand experience and shares that compassion and love with Emmaus,” DeLong said.
“Small, often family owned, businesses are the heartbeat of Emmaus and the essence of the community,” DeLong said. “Having businesses such as Khineder Creations solidifies the American ‘hometown’ ideal that defines the Emmaus borough,”
Kirsten Hess, owner of Let’s Play Books Bookstore in Emmaus, expressed similar thoughts about Khineder Creations’ impact on the local business community.
“Shops and small businesses, along with churches and libraries, are the heart of communities, and having a business like Khineder Creations, with such a positive message, helps to showcase the good in all of us.”
Emmaus Main Street Partners Manager Meghan Reed said she appreciates that Alkhal supports the local Emmaus community and the work of the Emmaus Main Street Partners while having a “big-picture mission as well that helps the less fortunate around the world.
“Their business model is quite admirable, really. You will find handmade home goods, art and gifts made by individuals from around the world who have been victims of human trafficking,” Reed said. “When you purchase one of these items, you are part of a really good cause that Khine is very passionate about. You may even be helping a young girl go to school.”
Alkhal said the greatest challenge she has faced in growing her business can be summed up in a single word.
“Time. Splitting time between being a parent and a business owner/producer is harder than I expected,” she said.
Alkhal said she takes inspiration in doing what she does from many, adding that she is particularly grateful for the influence of her grandmother and her husband.
“My grandmother ‘Mi Maw’ was an inspirational woman that was selfless and was more caring and generous than anyone I’ve ever known in my life,” Alkhal said. “I’d like to follow in her footsteps and would like to be of help to everyone that needs it in their pursuit of happiness.”
THOUGHTS OF EXPANSION
Alkhal said her husband, Daniel, is her role model.
“I’ve always followed his approach in life and his motto ‘honesty and simplicity are the most important traits for man.’ He lives by it, and the more I apply that to my life, especially in business, the happier I am, because my honesty allows me to have a very open communication with my customers and staff.
“When my conscience is clear, I can focus on creating and refining my products at the level that I am comfortable with.”
Down the road, Alkhal said, she hopes to expand Khineder Creations to other locations in the Lehigh Valley as well as overseas.
“[I would also like] to grow this company to the point where we can offer more employment opportunities to women that were victims of domestic violence and that survived sex trafficking, and provide a good vocational training for young boys and girls that did not have the opportunity to go to school or finish school so that they do not end up on the streets,” she said.