HAVING worked with different brands in Singapore for 12 years now, Dabawenyo Jay Olea has since wanted to create his own brand of sustainable items. At first, he found it a struggle to decide on a niche, a certain specific line of items that he would want to sell. But one thing is non-negotiable: it should be a line of sustainable items.

The pandemic and the mandatory wearing of face masks have given Jay a light bulb moment. This encouraged him to open an online business selling face masks in partnership with local artists and designers. At this point of the pandemic, surgical masks were becoming boring and people were looking for more fashionable and yet wearable face masks. Not to mention, surgical masks are not reusable.

This was how Glokal Pop-up came to be.

“The process was rather quick -- I did my research and procurement, designed my branding, packaging and pretty much everything as a one-man show. It took about one month to officially launch as I had to wait for the inventory to come from Manila. It was a slow start but Glokal has managed to pick-up thanks to the Filipino community. After my second collection, I decided to start producing in-house masks which were sewn by my good friend Kirby Secillano. We both did the moodboard, fabric sourcing, product testing and the like. Our collection was also received well by friends and their friends,” shared Jay.

It didn’t take a long time after the launching of the face masks when Jay decided to add tote bags to his products. His first artist-partner was Jojie Alcantara, a local photographer and Jay’s relative. He said with the reputation of Jojie in Davao City, he was hopeful to get affirmation and credibility of his products. This was when partnership with other local artists poured in.

But he didn’t stop on tote bags. His love of soy candles also came in the picture. He knew that both tote bags and soy candles are sustainable items which complement perfectly to the branding of Glokal Pop-up he was trying to create.

“I have already made preliminary preparations for the candle collection by then. So Glokal moved to Davao from Singapore in 2021. I brought some inventories back to start with,” he said, adding that he also collaborated with a friend who opened a soy candle business at the same time that he was.

Aside from words of mouth and discovery on social media, Jay took time to research on which local artists he could work best with.

“When I found the artists who are attuned to my taste, theme, concept and preference, I just send a DM and ask if they are interested. Fortunately, I got positive responses. Some artists were also referrals and some are personal acquaintances. In choosing who to partner with, I usually just follow my gut feel plus the artist must be easy to deal with and does not clash with my creative directions,” said Jay.

Now, he sells tote bags + candles with artworks of Jojie Alcantara, James Abayon Lolo, Pamela Lagrosa, and Donn Manguilimotan.

Hesus III by Pamela Lagrosa -- This portrait of Jesus is one of my favorites. Pamela, uses soft pastels to achieve her signature impressionistic portraits.

Bagobo Tribeswoman by Jojie Alcantara -- This photograph in one of her best portraits.

Many artists have actually made different renditions based on this portrait. For me, it represents Jojie bests as she is best in capturing the essence of the subject.

Subtle Glance by James Abayon Lolo -- This is a portrait of her mother which is only exclusive to us. The art showcases his technique that made him viral and featured on TV. He uses pen and markers and mixed media. His style is called scribbling and crosshatching.

The Girl With the Flowers by Donn Manguilimotan -- The artist is known in the local art scene for his cubist renditions of Mindanao life. He believes that art promotes peace and solidarity when explored and shared. This is seen in his works that feature Mindanaoans of different cultures and statures.

“The artists I have collaborated with have their own style. I avoid duplication so each art and artist stands out,” said Jay.

All these soy candles, tote bags, and masks for sale are displayed at shopglokal.com.