Finding the extra in the ordinary

HELEN Salingay-Co defines “aesthetic” as finding beauty out of every ordinary thing.

“Each object has its character and style. And, once I see its purpose and highlight it, its beauty comes out naturally,” shares the mom-of-two.

She credits the early beginnings of her creativity when she explored the fine art of gift-wrapping.

“I always dreamt of being the receiver of a well-curated gift. The content need not be expensive. But, the well-thought way in wrapping the present warms my heart,” says Helen who is married to Gerald Alan Co. They have two sons, Giancarlo, 18, and Craig Nicholas, 17.

“So, I began to innovate ways on how to make a gift a little extra with its look. This jumpstarted my “sourcing habit” of any item that interested me until it evolved into documenting my creations with my smartphone,” she fondly reminisces.

Kindred spirits

In 2015, Helen came across an Instagram post about an “Unstyling Workshop”. This piqued her interest that she flew to Manila and met Kitty Bunag, Mia De Lara, Kay Isabedra, and Chuty Santos of the Craftsmith Team. The one-on-one workshop opened her eyes in valuing the everyday ordinary things that surrounded her.

“Craftsmith Team has always been my mentor in styling and photography. They played a major role in my life and have become my sincerest friends. They are way too kind in sharing precious knowledge in their respective fields of expertise,” reveals Helen.

Helen also attended the “Food Photography and Prop Styling Fundamentals Workshop” by Photokitchen organized by Mylene Chung and Nilca Hortico in Manila.

In 2017, an intimate workshop she conducted on the basics of flat lay paved the way for Helen to meet Davao moms Anna Ibarreta-Santos and Apple Chua-Quiñones.

A flat lay is “a photo of objects arranged on a flat surface, captured from directly above.”

Spontaneous brunch sessions that usually included styling their beautiful table mess deepened their bond. As time passed by, they decided to call their close-knit group “The Kreativ Gypsies.”The trio does intimate styling of events, food styling and photo-styling workshops.

The Curious H

With over a decade of accumulating props, Helen’s plethora of accessories has filled up every corner and alley of their family home.

Back in the day, she styled through flat lay so space was never a problem. However, as she continually evolved her photo styling skills, she needed a bigger wall to create the look she wanted to achieve.

“Somehow the 'need' for a bigger playground came to mind when my family and I saw the space at La Verna High Street. We immediately fell in love with the place,” Helen recounts.

The Curious H General Store is Helen’s newly-opened playground where she can do what she loves the most – the art of gift-wrapping, props and photo styling, small-space styling, and flat lay.

The store sells a bit of merchandise related to photo styling and rents out props for photoshoots inside the shop. There is a small space for intimate meetings/workshops as well.

Customers who have dropped by the store gush that it exuded “BGC feels” and made them feel that “they were not in Davao.” Calming Aēsop diffuser wood scents waft through the air.

“I want to share my playground with Dabawenyos who have the same passion in expressing their creativity. I hope that just like my appreciation for everyday ordinary things, they will find an item in the store that sparks their heart and makes them giddy,” ends Helen.

The Curious H General Store is at 15 La Verna High Street, La Verna Bypass Road, Davao City. They are open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

Special thanks to Helen Salingay-Co and Dyan Nuere-Te for the photos.

E-mail the author at mom.about.town.dvo@gmail.com. Visit http://momabouttowndavao.blogspot.com/.


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