Crafting in Cebu

ALEXANDER Hey and Mattias Olandersson have been good friends since they were six years old. After finding common ground with the other in their entrepreneurial ambitions, at 16 they started their own mini gaming enterprise back in Sweden and now at only 21, have flown halfway across the world to manage family-owned furniture firm Sara Woodcrafts.

“My family has been in the furniture industry for the last 20 years,” Alexander said.

“My father was the president of the company that Sara Woodcrafts evolved from, and later on he bought it.”

A firm named after Alexander’s younger sister and one which was previously managed by his dad since 1992, Sara Woodcrafts recently opened its showroom in Mandaue City.

Despite catering to niche markets in Europe, the two execs said they have also seen a following in the local community, particularly those who are appreciative of classic designs.

Alexander presently stands as vice president while Mattias is marketing director. They have been based in Cebu since 2012, and shared that their stay has been fairly well, having found a second home in the city.

“We have found a group of friends who showed us around,” Alexander said. Downtimes would typically find them in Tinderbox, where in true European fashion, they’ll enjoy a glass of wine, or off to beach resorts in Mactan to relax. Just the other week, the two were host to Alexander’s family, including young Sara, who came to the Philippines for a vacation.

Alexander said that the production base of Sara Woodcrafts used to be in Indonesia, but after seeing the remarkable quality of local raw materials and Filipino craftsmanship, they decided to transfer here—contradicting the rising trend of firms moving out of the country in search for inexpensive labor.

Mattias said that they also take pride in their furniture that combine classic styles such as Gustavian, Chippendale and Rococo, with contemporary and refreshing aesthetics. “Our standard collection is mostly composed of designs made by kings back in the 18th century, but these are not replicas nor are they made to look antique.

These are old designs adjusted to fit the modern home,” he said.

Veering away from the mass production approach of many furniture firms, Mattias said, “We don’t want to make 100 chairs a day with no soul. We want to see it carved, brushed and painted individually by people with passion,” a trait he and Alexander find important, and quite notably, they themselves also possess.


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