LOVE Marie Escudero, popularly known as the celebrity and fashion icon Heart Evangelista, started a hand-painted bag business after she tried to conceal a huge oil map on her expensive orange Birkin when bits of French fries accidentally dropped on it.
She considered having the more than US$12,000 bag repainted but it does not guarantee she would get rid of the stain. Inspired by actual hand-painted Birkin, the visual artist Evangelista painted her own bags and became a hit.
In Davao City, one can still strut the streets with a hand-painted bag either to feel high fashion, to mirror the likes of Evangelista, or to just simply express who you are. Thanks to the art entrepreneurs behind Mayari Art. No Hermes. No food stains. Just the heart and soul poured into art that makes a usual bag look luxurious.
Mayari Art is a Davao-based brand of hand-painted accessory and apparel established by couple Louiza Jayne and Nichol Francis Andamon.
“It started with our own old bags and shoes, repainted and redesigned. Our family and friends loved them so we started making for them as per their requests. Eventually, we noticed that the demand is increasing especially on holidays when everyone wants to give unique presents. It became a hobby that pays,” Louiza shared.
Louiza added that even before, she and her husband love to paint and draw on anything they can get their hands on.
“Mayari Art just doesn't paint bags. We also love painting on shoes. My husband does graphic designing. He is also very good at pen and ink portraits. We do murals and a lot of artworks through different media,” she said.
“Everyone wears a bag. Wearing a painting on your bag is cool, isn't it? Most of our bag paintings are original designs, so that makes you really one of a kind. People will be able to see the beautiful painting uniquely done in your bag,” she added.
Both of them were fine arts graduates who majored in painting and shared a deep love for art and nature which also became the recurring themes in their art laden bags. Their designs include orchids, butterflies, sunflowers, birds, beach, a firefly-lit night on a field, among others. There were also portraits and geometric patterns.
“Our love for art and appreciation of Mother Nature's beauty fueled the idea of making something very special,” she said. Their brand name, she added, is the name of the demi-goddess of the moon in the Philippine mythology - the fierce and beautiful Mayari.
Mayari Art is still young as they only launched it in the middle of last year but despite the Covid-19 pandemic that affected people’s income and limited their opportunities to promote, orders have kept coming.
“We already have a schedule of trade fairs and bazaars this year but as we all know it is impossible for them to be pushed through. It amazes us that there are people still ordering our products even if we don't have enough time to advertise them, especially now in a pandemic. It is also heartwarming that most of our sales came from word-of-mouth, which means it is truly commendable,” Louiza said.
“What we do now is we have doubled our efforts in advertising through social media and making every bag very pretty that is too commendable not to be shared with any. It is always quality over quantity that matters to us. We are confident that if this pandemic will end more customers will be appreciating, buying, and promoting our products,” she added.
Despite the pandemic being a major setback for businesses, Louiza and her husband have remained steadfast.
“Doing business is hard but if you love what you are doing you will feel less struggle because part of you is enjoying it. It is like our food. Our healthy food. It provides us a living and also developing us as artists and businessmen,” she said.
The couple is fully committed to constantly improve their products and their customer experience. They have also been making transactions online and in their shop convenient for customers.
“We have our own bags, proudly handcrafted by Filipino bag artisans. We have a wide array of bag designs to choose from. But, we are very flexible with our customers since they are the heart of our little business that's why we also cater to custom designs using their own choice of item,” she said.
Louiza added these efforts are their stepping stones to achieve their goals of opening up more branches in the whole country and be recognized globally. Apart from that, she wanted Mayari Art to be their family legacy.
“We consider this a family business, that's why we are looking forward to passing this to our children as well. It's not just 'business,' this is also our artwork. They speak for us and our country. As parents, we also want to secure a bright future for our kid. That is why, we are dedicating our best to make them run it one day, and will be passed through next generations,” she said.
She also considered it their way to support local brands and inspire other artists.
“We asked for some help from our artist-friends. In this way, it is a win-win situation. We can both be able to showcase our talents as well as earn some from it. We love sharing the process of doing our artworks, we like the thought that there is an increasing number of people that are into arts,” she said.
“Our bags are also proud Filipino-handcrafted pieces so we hope in our little way we can help sustain other people's source of income,” she added.
Currently, they can be reached through their Facebook account Mayari Art and Instagram account @Mayari_Art and also deliver their customers’ orders. They also display their collections at Luna Lifestyle Cafe in Obrero.
Just as Heart puts her heart into her art on every bag she paints on, so does Louiza and Nichol Francis of Mayari Art. It was not about whose artist is famous or not. Both just have an equal expression of love and a passion for art.