METRO MANILA / FASHION / Bags, Clothing
Co-founder: Reese Fernandez-Ruiz
1. What got you started with this brand? What was your inspiration? What is the idea/concept behind it?
13 years ago, we started Rags2Riches, or R2R, with the purpose of creating sustainable opportunities for artisans from urban poor communities. We do this through designing and creating products that are intentional and sustainable. Today, we are a fashion & design house empowering community artisans in the Philippines. For the past 13 years, we were able to provide artisans with fair and regular livelihood and we have conducted skills training and other kinds of modules to upgrade the skills and knowledge of our artisan partners. When we started, we collaborated with some of the most amazing fashion designers in the Philippines, such as Rajo Laurel, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Oliver Tolentino, and artist Olivia d’Aboville. As of now, we have our own in-house design team led by Christian Cera–a designer with decades of experience in design and product construction, and who is incredibly open to new ideas.
2. What is your personal favorite product from your brand?
I have so many! I love the Casey Bag, which is one of our classic bags that our designer Chris designed around 6 years ago. It is multi-way and combines many artisanal crafts and materials. One of my favorites is also the Puso bag, which is an iconic rectangular bag (also designed by Chris)!
3. What do you want people to experience with your brand/product(s)?
We want to weave joy into every story. We want to weave joy into the stories of our artisans through providing them with dignified livelihood and our advocates through sharing with them products that are meaningful and infinitely functional. We hope that when our advocates bring our pieces into their lives, they can be reminded of humanity and purpose and they can take the pieces with them throughout the different milestones in their life.
4. What tips and advice can you give to entrepreneurs who are just starting out or are planning to start their own brand?
Solve problems, don’t just make products. It’s great if you’ve got a product you want to sell, but always try to think about the problems that these products or services can solve, not just for the customers who will avail of them but for the entire supply chain.
5. What’s next for your brand?
We launched our North America online store last October 1, called R2RShop.com. Last October 30, we launched our most intricate and intentionally designed collection called Balang Araw. We are also the official sewing services provider of IKEA Philippines, so watch out for its opening and we hope to see you there!
6. What other additional information and details would you like to share?
Rags2Riches also has some fun pieces for your home.