Kawayan watches: Timely venture strives to expand

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - For young entrepreneurs Rex Alfred Layos and Angeli Marie Ortega, time is literally gold.

Three years ago, the two entrepreneurs, driven by their immense passion for helping the environment, pursued their dream to produce wristwatches made of locally abundant and eco-friendly material such as bamboo.

Layos, 22, and Ortega, 23, put up Kawayan, the pioneering brand in providing bamboo watches in the Philippines.

“Actually wooden watches were already present abroad so while we were strolling around, we happened to come across a shop selling wooden watches and wondered why not bring these products to the Philippines,” Layos said.

Bamboo,locally called kawayan, was a perfect fit for what the business partners had in mind given its availability in the country. It is  likewise considered as high-value for mitigating climate change given its fast biomass production and renewability.

“We take personal pride in making watches that are made out of bamboo due to its sustainability, durability, and abundance here in our country. Aside from the abundance of bamboo here in our country, it’s durability and sustainability are the major factors why we chose this material as our main component. Our aim is to provide everyone an affordable but more environment conscious option,” Layos said.

“We felt inspired to pursue this venture because of the urge to help the environment. We want to help lessen the effects of climate change knowing how greatly our country is affected by it,” he added.

With a starting capital of P20,000, Kawayan is now a thriving online business catering not only to individuals looking for stylish watches but big companies searching for corporate gifts as well.

During their initial year of operations, Layos recalled that they were only able to sell between 10 to 20 watches a month. This has increased substantially as they are now selling 300 to 500 watches monthly.

“We’ve been in the market for three years and are continually leading the charge to a more eco-friendly society. The Philippine market has welcomed our products very well. The business has grown so much that it has exceeded our expectations when we started,” he said.

“We consider every customer’s feedback to be very memorable for us since it’s vital for our product and operations development. But one of the most fulfilling ones was when our watches were used as wedding souvenirs and told us that we made their day extra special because of our watches,” Layos added.

According to Layos, Kawayan watches are priced reasonably compared to those available in the market because they want every Filipino from different classes to wear their products.

“The niche we have against these big companies offering traditional steel and plastic watches is that we are offering a very sustainable product.   Also, going green is becoming a worldwide revolution so our market will somehow be growing sharply in the next five years,” he said.

With the bamboo watch business hitting new heights,  Layos and Ortega said they plan  to expand through a brick and mortar shop.  They also intend to  develop and introduce to the local market more products made from eco-friendly materials.

Next in line for them are sunglasses made out of bamboo.

“We want to expand and create more presence outside the online community. A good start to this is the Go Lokal exhibit by DTI  where we are chosen to be a part of. We’ve also initially released our Kawayan sunglasses this month and expect many more eco-friendly accessories in the years to come,” Layos said.

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