Gallery partners with indigenous communities-A A +A
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
SEEING innovation as a way to address the country’s languishing traditional textile industry, a homegrown social enterprise has partnered with a tribal group and two communities in turning traditional fabric into to fashionable wear.
Anthill Fabric Gallery or the Alternative Nest and Trading-Training Hub for Ingenious-Indigenous Little Livelihood Seekers has partnered with the Daraghuyan tribe in Bukidnon, the weaving community in Abra and the sewing community in Tisa, Cebu City to help them better market their products and provide them innovation training to make them globally competitive.
The business was founded by the mother-daughter team of Annie and Anya Lim in 2011. The two share a love for Filipino indigenous culture and fabrics.
Anya said Anthill provides market access to their partner-communities by being the
central marketplace of their products.
The Anthill Fabric Gallery on Gorordo Ave. houses traditional hand woven fabric like abaca, hablon, inabel, ikat and tinalak, among many others.
She said they buy from the communities fabric and raw materials that they can use to develop products in Anthill.
“We connect the community of artisans to the customers and our design collaborators through field or immersion visits,” she said.
To give traditional fabrics trendy fashion designs, Anya said they collaborated with local and foreign designers to mentor the communities and educate them on how to adopt innovative designs.
One of Anthill’s design collaborators is the international designer Chee Sau Fen, who helped the Daraghuyan-Bukidnon tribe design fashionable hats out of pinanggabol fabric. The hats were showcased during the Singapore Fashion Week held last May.
Fashion designer Twinkle Ferraren also made fashionable attires for women out of traditional fabrics.
Aside from fabrics, Anthill also helps the communities make fashion accessories with the mentorship of local accessory designer Dianne Espera.
Espera taught the Daraghuyan-Bukidnon tribe to make stylish “healing” bracelets out of Gintawan branches. The Gintawan tree is believed by the Daraghuyan to possess healing traits.
“What we do is we challenge these communities to make the most out of the available resources around them and turn them into something which can provide them livelihood opportunities,” Anya said.
The sewing community in Tisa has also been involved in making rag dolls which are selling well to kids.
Anya said Anthill makes use of social media to help these communities market their products, apart from the promotion in the gallery that they have in Cebu. Through their Facebook and Instagram accounts, buyers can purchase the items online.
Anya said Anthill is now focusing on the local market before distributing the products abroad.
“What we intend to do is not to export but to have stocks in boutiques and retail stores abroad that value craftsmanship,” she said.
Anya also said she hopes that the communities will become self-sufficient in five to eight years.
Anthill was able to establish a weaving center in the Daraghuyan community with the help of some donors. According to Anya, the center will serve as “an enabling environment for the youth to be more encouraged to weave.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2013.