It may sound like an entrepreneurial cliché, but for us, there is really no better way to tell the story of how we started...
A Filipino landscape architect and a solution seeking / interior design lover Swede were sitting down on one typical gloomy and uneventful day in crowded China chit chatting about life, travels, environment, opportunities and whatnot, and then...TING! After some hours and glasses of wine the proverbial light bulb appeared!
You could say it was almost apparent, with Neus wanting to expand himself into different fields of design, me taking up interior design studies and the fact that both of us are very much into healthy living, going "green" with design products was definitely something we thought we could and should do.
Grey to green
Let me first provide you with some history that might give you a clearer understanding of why we decided to go green. Living and working in China for more than a decade, sharing the daily struggles of a typical “wai guo ren” (Chinese term for foreigner/outsider), and constantly living in a struggling natural environment ("plastic" food, polluted water and high levels of pollutants to cite a few), we witnessed the perils of rapid development up close and personal.
We saw how the world's needs were met through mass production, leaving a massive carbon footprint that gravely damages our environment. And despite the convenience and luxury of modernization, the environment's cry for help could always be heard. So we didn't think twice when we said it's time to do our our part to help the world and "go green"!
At first, what we wanted was to be able give the customers the right to really know the products they are buying. We want to provide honest products that can tell you every bit about itself and how it was made. That for us, and using natural materials, is what green design should really be about. We set our sights to Philippines where the handicraft industry is thriving. We want natural, we want creative, and we want HAND-MADE.
Going handmade means working with artisans in communities which are not to be found in big cites, but in rural provinces. With the world rapidly developing and how quickly the automated world is taking over, these communities are left behind. What's worse is that the mass production industry is killing the handicraft business for more than obvious reasons. This made us reassess our objectives. If we want to help the environment, then we should be concerned with its largest natural resource...man.
Well... One, having a Filipino partner who knows the country and its people well, comes as an advantage. Two, the country, or should I call it the Island(s), is blessed with a tremendous amount of natural materials and natural fibers. And of course, the creativity of the Filipinos when it comes to arts and crafts is truly inspiring.
And hey let’s not forget their love for food. There is no gathering, visiting or meeting without a little fiesta involved. No matter what, you will never leave any place hungry or unhappy!
Setting the right standards
When we traveled around to different provinces and production communities we had a few points in mind we believe should be met before choosing who we should work with:
I think it is safe to say that it has been beyond our expectations so far. The sites we visited and where we are producing some of our designs and products are doing fantastic work. They actually help the whole surrounding provinces to a decent livelihood by outsourcing some of their weave/craft work to families and communities nearby. They have set up volunteer organizations focusing on empowering women, children with disabilities and families living under extremely poor conditions. They are taking on a huge responsibility in consistently working for a better life of their fellow countrymen and the future of their country. All this while running production and creating beautiful designs from nature. What more could we possibly ask for…
To be continued...Stay tuned!