Local company Weavemanila takes Filipino weavers to the international stage
Ann Hernandez’s abaca carpets are not for the stingy. Their creations, all handmade and transported straight from the Philippines’ abaca capital, Albay, are sold almost twice as expensive as most of the natural floor coverings in the market like sisal or jute.
Now who would buy such luxury from a two-year-old startup enterprise? A lot of people, apparently.
Ann’s brand, Weavemanila, has earned the trust and admiration of a good number of buyers in the Philippines and the United States. “Ours is a small, new company, but we’ve been getting great feedback since we started in 2013 and clients are steadily learning about what we can bring to the market. We’ve surprised ourselves and we feel so blessed,” she happily tells CITEM.
It is love at first sight that makes many clients invest in a Weavemanila carpet. With outstanding quality that is distinguishable to the trained eye, the handwoven home furnishings are easily a must-have if one wants to add a distinct elegance, comfort, and class into a room.
But what makes these abaca products truly adored by patrons in many countries around the globe is the company behind it, who values the hard work and craftsmanship of the weavers at the base of its production line. The owners care for and improve the lives of the carpet makers as the brand grows and prospers.
“Weavemanila’s first priority is the weavers,” says Ann. “It’s important to us that our weavers are always paid on time and that they are well compensated for their hard work,” says Ann.
Among the company’s plans for the welfare of its weavers are to get a professional who could coach them on personal finance and investment. “One of our biggest dreams is to get each of them an insurance and investment plan,” she tells CITEM. “For us it’s not enough that their livelihood provides for what they need today. We want them to earn and save for their future,” she emphasizes.
Weavemanila also conducts programs and activities that teach values and useful, marketable skills. They hold weekly Bible studies and enroll their workers in classes for new weaving and dyeing techniques, and, just like an extended family, Weavemanila takes them to unwind in vacation spots or celebrate at favorite restaurants on special occasions.
The weavers believe that the company cares for their needs—putting them first before anything else. In return, they dedicate themselves to their craft. They work better, strive for excellence, and focus on creating the best products for the clients who support their handiwork and art.
The company’s generosity extends beyond their workers and their home province of Albay.
Two years ago, the company supported one of the communities in Bohol affected by the 2013 earthquake, the deadliest since 1990, and Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the region only a mere three weeks after the earthquake.
Thinking about the sorry plight of Bohol’s seaweed farmers, whose crops were destroyed by the two consecutive natural calamities, Weavemanila donated the company’s earnings to enable the farmers to purchase new crops and reestablish their livelihood.
Weavemanila has also initiated several outreach programs helping out students, orphans, and poverty-stricken families by donating cash, canned goods, rice, and school supplies. And just last February they purchased the first of three wheelchairs they will give to elderly patients in their community in Sto. Domingo, Albay.
“We are blessed to be a blessing to others,” says Ann.
Weavemanila will be launching new designs along with a new line that gives more economical options for buyers at the upcoming Manila FAME in October 20–22, 2016, at the World Trade Center and the Philippine Trade Training Center, Pasay City.
For more information on Manila FAME, visit www.manilafame.com.