MANILA, Philippines - Being left on her own to start a company did not deter 32-year old Ann Hernandez to weave her way to success.
Backed by her passion to give livelihood to people, Hernandez put up Weavemanila Inc., a manufacturer of hand woven abaca (Manila hemp) carpet and rugs.
“Starting the business was an accident really. A friend introduced this to me and I was supposed to be a partner. Long story cut short, that friend left and I was left with the company so we had to start again from ground up. Weavemanila was born,” she said.
“We wanted a business platform that would uplift the lives of the people. We also wanted to up our game in making high quality handmade abaca rugs and carpets by being innovative on weave patterns and processes,” Hernandez added.
With an initial investment of P600,000, Weavemanila started in 2013 and established its production and storage facility in a 2,000-square meter area in Bicol.
“We chose Bicol because that is where my grandmother is from and I do feel that by doing this, we are giving back to the land where she came from,” Hernandez said.
Weavemanila employs some 20 to 80 people in Bicol, depending on the need for number of orders the company receives.
According to Hernandez, the company allows its weavers and personnel to source the abaca to the farmers directly on their behalf.
“As much as possible we want our workers to earn which is why we let them buy the raw products and we buy it to them on a higher price,” Hernandez said.
“Our weavers are our partners in making the products. They really are the lifeblood of the company. It takes a lot of hardwork, talent, and patience to do this product,” she added.
Abaca fiber, which is obtained from the abaca tree, is said to be indigenous to the Philippines and is considered the strongest of natural fibers.
With its strength and resistance to salt water decomposition, abaca fiber is traditionally used for craft material and cordage and is now more widely used in specialty paper manufacturers such as currency notes and pulp.
“We use abaca as the medium in our weaving because of the rich history that it identifies with the country and the region we are in. It has lustrous and long fiber that has a varied range of natural fiber color that does not need dyes to make the color beautiful,” Hernandez said.
Weavemanila produces abaca handwoven carpets and rugs that are customizable in terms of sizes, patterns, and color. Prices of its products range from P300 to P1,000 per square foot, depending on the design, fiber, and color.
“Our price is a bit pricey but it translates to high quality. We also deal honestly and deliver door to door. Sometimes, as favors, we even set up the carpet for our clients,” Hernandez said.
In just nearly four years of operations, Weavemanila has received orders from known interior design and architectural firms, as well as various residential, commercial, and hotel clients.
Its carpets are also being used in the Big Brother’s house of the popular reality show Pinoy Big Brother.
Apart from this, Weavemanila has received orders abroad, particularly in countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, India, UK, Australia, Paris, and Belgium
“We have more clients now compared to the previous years and we are also blessed to have some regular clients who keep coming back,” Hernandez said.
“But aside from all these, the most important measurement of our growth is that we are able to help improve the lives of our personnel. There are those that are able to buy their own small place, their own motorcycles, and invest in their own sidelines. Those little improvements gave their lives progress,” she added.