About Me

Hello!  My name is Raksmey and I am your incense crafter.

It all started when I was a little girl living in Han Chey village at the foot of Han Chey mountain near the Mekong River in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia.

(On the right, age 11)

I am the youngest of 7 children born on the floor of our wooden house to a family of farmers.

(Room of my home we all share)

(My home from the front)

(Our kitchen)

When I was not in school I would spend my time helping at the house or helping my father at the farm.

(Me on my motorbike at the farm)

We didn't have a lot of money but we had a lot of love and hard work.  A lot of laughing!  My father had a great sense of humor.

Being in Han Chey village near the Han Chey mountain and close to the Mekong River put our home in an interesting place.  Tourists from America and Europe would take boat tours of the Mekong river.  They would stop near my village and travel to the top of Han Chey mountain.  I loved to meet the western people who would give me candy and teach me how to speak English.  Sometimes they would give me money but my father would not allow it.  He told me that if I want to make money I must give them something for the money.

So, I would take fruits from our farm or coconuts and bring them to the top of the mountain to sell them to tourists.  There at the top of the mountain was an old Buddhist temple which the tourists would visit.  

(Wat Han Chey)

Beautiful and sweet old women would make incense using ingredients from the rainforest near the mountain.  They are similar to nuns in the Christian faith.  The tourists would love to photograph them and ask to buy the incense.  But, the incense was not for sale.  

One day I asked one of the women who was always very sweet to me if I can learn to make incense and sell it to the tourists.  I would perform tasks for them and bring them water or rice.  I would help them clean and even started to learn enough English to translate for them when the tourists asked questions.

Eventually the women taught me the ancient tradition of making incense with dried plants.  This method is very old and originates in Tibet.

Once I learned to make the incense I would sell 10 sticks for $0.25 to the tourists.  I made good money and my father was proud that I was selling the incense instead of getting free money.  It also made me very social and open minded.  I fell in love with western culture and food.  

Lets fast forward here.  Sorry, I don't have a lot of photos because we didn't have the money for a camera.  

I graduated from high school.  Only 2 of the 7 sisters and brothers graduated.  Of course, I decided to study English and go to university.  I did not want to be a farmer and I wanted to escape my village.  

After university I moved to Siem Reap to join the tourist industry.  I worked in hotels, restaurants, and applied to be a tour guide.  I made my parents very nervous but they trusted me and even when times got hard and they asked me to come back home, I refused and pushed forward.

In 2017 I met a man from America while I was living in Siem Reap.  He was touring Cambodia and we had nice long conversations.  We couldn't stop talking to each other!  He was a gentleman and he had a good sense of humor like my father.  

In 2018 he came back.  This time he was touring Vietnam and he invited me to join him.  So I did!  We had an amazing week together in Vietnam.

(David and I in Halong Bay, Vietnam)


We couldn't be without eachother so a couple of months later he moved to Cambodia to be with me.  We had many adventures and traveled all over Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand, and Singapore.

(David and I in Thailand)

At the end of 2018, after asking my families permission, he proposed to me at a waterfall in Laos.

(David and I in Laos, engagement dinner)

(Engagement Ceremony in our home)

After more than a year of waiting for our immigration Visa, I was finally able to come to the USA in February, 2020.  We were so lucky to get to the USA before the pandemic turned everything upside down.

During the pandemic, my husband was laid off of work so we both decided to have pandemic hobbies.  I missed my family and my home so I decided to make incense again as I did when I was young.  My husband burned incense and I thought it was awful.  It smelled like perfume and chemicals.  So, I wanted to show him how good incense could be if you just use plants.

I started with lemongrass.  An herb that is loved in my home country.

(Lemongrass incense cone)

I made cinnamon and patchouli next.  My husband really enjoyed them and encouraged me to make more and give them to his family.

That Christmas, I made special Christmas incense for his family.  I bought some little jewelry boxes, string, and ordered stickers online.  I wanted the stickers to show my Asian world coming together with my American life.  I called it "The World Makes Scents".  

 (The old original style box from 2021)

His family loved the incense and gave some to their friends.  They all encouraged me to sell the incense online.

In 2022 I opened my Etsy shop and began to sell my incense.  I had these goals in mind:

1.  Make incense using only plants.  No synthetic anything.  That means no fragrance oils, perfumes, dye, burn extending chemicals, or charcoal.

2.  Buy and grind the plants myself so the fragrance is as close to the original plant as possible.  

3.  Use my hands as much as possible to make incense the way I was taught.  When tools are used, only use hand powered tools as much as possible.

4.  Be honest.  Tell people what is in the incense.  I love this about food I buy in America.  I always know what I am putting into my body.  Why should incense be different?  We breathe in the smoke as we put food into our bodies.  People should know!

5.  Try to support my family and their farm by asking them to grow plants I can use and then ship them to the USA.  Pay them very well!

In 2023 I was told that one of the old women who makes incense (like the ones from my childhood) was not doing well with her health.  I decided to travel back to Cambodia and pay her a visit.  We talked and made incense together.  She was the last incense maker from the village.  Most of her children had died during the Khmer Rouge and the remaining children were not interested in carrying on the tradition.  So, Khouen spent time with me, teaching me her recipe and giving me the materials needed to go back to the USA and make her incese.  She wanted me to share her incense with the world back in the USA.  I named the incense after her "Kheoun's Blend".  I donated money to her to help her with food, water, and her health.  I was sure to pay her 20x her asking price for the ingredients.

(Kheoun and I at her home)

In 2022 and 2023 the business grew very fast and my husband was amazed.  So, for Christmas he got me a small art studio in an old building in Chicago.

(First days in the studio.  Still manage to pack orders and ship.)

So now it's 2024 and I continue to follow my rules.  Plants only.  Handmade.  Whole botanical plants. Ingredients listed.  Help my family.

I hope you enjoyed reading my story and I hope that I can bring you peace, meditation, and happiness with my incense.  Thank you for your time!