MOST, if not all, designers surely have passion for fashion as their main motivation in landing in the industry.
Cheri-Lou Rabanoz Aranjuez of Compostela Valley province is no exception to that. However, her passion for fashion has always been coupled with love for others.
While she has been pulling all strings to make her business continuously grow, she also never forgets to give back to the community.
“A great fashion designer has a sense of purpose. This passion is not all about business, this is not all about fame. This is about giving meaning to what we are doing,” the Montevista-based designer said.
As a staunch supporter of Maya Organization of the Philippines (https://www.mayasorganisationphilippines.org/) since its birth, the mother of two has been an advocate of building a strong community. She does this by creating employment in the neighborhood through her business.
“The founder of this organization is my cousin Mayet who believed and helped me to be in the House of Ikons Fashion Show during the London Fashion Week,” she narrated. “I love my co-workers and I want them to grow as much as I want my business to grow too in order to be of great help to the community.”
Although some may find this vision ambitious, Che is committed to embrace this. In fact, she has been part as well of a monthly feeding program, together with other members of the Friends of the Poor (FOTP) initiated by the FMA Sisters.
“These things I say not to boast but to inspire. I do not even post on social media about these little charity works but I will take this opportunity to influence and inspire fellow designers and entrepreneurs,” she said.
Che’s good heart and impressive fashion design skills have made her experience the best of the world she has chosen to live in.
Last February, Che’s collection, which depicts Mindanao culture, became part of the famous London Fashion Week.
“London Fashion Week is a dream come true. I never thought that one day I can showcase my collection. It was my cousin, Mayet, who is based in London now motivated me to audition in the House of Ikons,” she said.
“I was reluctant, I have insecurities in my capacity to design and execute clothes. But my cousin encouraged me to try. So I tried.”
“I was asked by Savita Kaye, the CEO of House of Ikons, to submit portfolio. I submitted. The CEO confirmed immediately that I am qualified for the fashion show,” she added.
Amid this biggest achievement so far, Che hopes that one day, “all these opportunities will turn into real reasons so that my husband can stay here with me for good and my co-workers will have a sustainable livelihood.”
The pride of Davao Region may be successful already. Her road to success was never easy, though.
“I started my fashion design journey in a not-so-good story. I was swindled by someone who offered me a franchise of a ‘gown rental and a fashion design shop’ business, and because of my intense craving and aggressiveness to open such kind of business, I jumped into having a venture with him,” she recalled.
The experience brought her so much pain, especially that her investment came from the savings she and her seafarer-husband jointly put in for their two children’s future.
Despite this nightmare, her husband motivated her to move on and start anew.
“Because of that experience, it pushed me to enroll in fashion school. Actually, I did not realize that there is a fashion design course, only then when I knew with this man that kept on telling me all about fashion and fashion-related topics. He has given me an idea that there is indeed a fashion design course in Philippine Women’s College (PWC).”
“Looking back, I thank him for that painful experience. I gained and learned a lot after,” the ever-optimistic Cheri-Lou pointed out.
Che is indeed worthy of all admiration. She definitely has a grateful heart worthy of emulating.
She said everything was never possible without the help of the people around her, including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The agency has developed a new brand - Aranjuez - for her international buyers, subsidized her brand registration with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), widened her market, provided her free training and seminars, and most of all, helped her realize the importance of entrepreneurs in building a nation through the Kapatid Mentor ME program.
The 2016 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Fashion Design graduate of PWC-Davao has committed to never stop from adopting innovation, spreading the richness of Mindanao culture through her designs, and supporting those who need her help. Yes, Cheri-Lou Rabanoz Aranjuez is bound to continue her passion for fashion, while showing love for others by building a strong community.
(Thanks to Che for providing the photos in this article!)
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