I have always been a BIG fan of homegrown and locally-made products. Be it a bag, a furniture, a food item, a shirt, or even coffee. Maybe it’s because I grew up with parents having the advocacy of empowering local communities by having them develop and manufacture their own products, thereby bringing income and livelihood to their families. I’m a strong believer of that myself – hence, I usually like my locally made items better than imported ones. Such is the same belief and advocacy being practiced, promoted, and implemented by this local fashion brand known as Rags2Riches (“R2R”). They actually started with rags made from scrap fabrics turned into bags or wallets. But now, they’ve expanded to home items, wedding products, and others.
So last Saturday afternoon, I attended an event called the “Make Your Own Buslo/Barco” organized by Rags2Riches. It was held in their new office/workshop in the Tomas Morato, Quezon City area. It’s actually an activity for both advocates and artisans alike in order to get to know more about the company, how the products are made, and know more about the stories of the artisans. “Artisans” are what they call the people from the local communities who make and weave the items by themselves. Most of them come from the marginalized communities of both rural and urban areas in the country. Through the activity, we got to learn more about their stories and how being an R2R artisan changed their lives.
The event began with a presentation about R2R spearheaded by R2R’s President and Co-Founder herself, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz. We got to know the staff and some of the artisans, who also shared their stories. After the presentation, we were given our kits and went to tour the office. We also saw the workshop downstairs and were able to interact more with the artisans.
We were served with unlimited snacks and coffee from equally great Filipino brands, Bo’s Coffee and Bayani Brew.
We also were able to checkout some of their items in the in-house store and were entitled to 20% discount for all the items. I myself got a fuschia Reese wallet for less than Php500.
Since the whole point of the event was to make us learn to weave the products, we made our own woven pouches. I chose a bright red fabric with light blue zipper.
I was taught by Ate Vanessa, who was dubbed as one of the fastest weavers in their group. Hence, so much pressure for me to finish fast! But she was very patient with me and even gamely answered my questions about her life as an artisan. She told me she has 7 children who were all able to finish school with the help of R2R. Her eldest is now a chef, while her youngest is still in grade 5. I’m so proud of her.
Weaving may look easy at first, but it actually involves a lot of patience, skill and creativity.
After weaving, we went in the workshop to have the zipper and the leather handle sewn by the other artisans. Only the zipper was done by a sewing machine, but everything was handmade. We also got to choose the fabric for our Buslo or Barco bag, which they all finished while we waited and watched. I chose a purple Buslo.
Overall, I really enjoyed the event. I think the workshop fee of about Php4,000 (I got an early bird discount so I just paid Php3700++!) was truly worth it. The fee comes with your customized Buslo or Barco bag with your name or initials in the tag, your own personally-woven pouch, snacks and coffee, learning about R2R, and being able to contribute to their advocacy of empowering local communities to have a sustainable livelihood.
What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait for R2R to have another workshop- I’ll probably join again and invite friends to join this time.
Hope you enjoyed my post and have a great week ahead!