Business As Usual

On display

- Rose G. De La Cruz -
A fondness for color inspired Kristine Neri and best friend/classmate Jennifer de Dios to name their furniture factory, Olive Circle Manufacturing, and their furniture showroom, Indigo, Inc.

"As interior designers, we wanted to be known not as the usual Neri-De Dios and Associates kind of thing but more for what we have done, our products, and our ideas," said Neri.

Most of the pieces on display at Indigo are inspired by the furniture of the 1950s and the 1960s or the furniture pieces seen in the homes of the co-owners’ grandparents.

A signature product is the Viol box, which is an ingenious modular piece that can be arranged and re-arranged to serve various functions and to assume different moods and personalities. It is a simple faux pas leather box with detailed double stitching that, when grouped together, forms an interesting coffee table in any shape or a night stand. Its fabric-lined interior serves as instant storage space.
Early Years
"We wanted to start a business even when we were still classmates at the University of the Philippines. Even then, we knew we had to work right after graduation, scrimp, and earn a lot of money," said De Dios, who took on freelance interior designing projects, while Neri joined an architectural company. "Then, we put up a small interior design consultant office, saving on rent by squatting in my dad’s office and sometimes even using some of his staff."

After two years of free rent, Olive Circle was started with P700,000, which covered the rental of an old house in New Manila and the salaries of three mainstays–a painter, a carpenter, and an upholsterer–and contractual workers.

"Our biggest break came when we were asked to conceptualize the image and interiors of the Ice Monster chain. From the payment we received, we formed Indigo," said Neri.

The current worth of furniture pieces on display in the Indigo showroom is valued at P4 million.
Most of Indigo’s clients are practicing architects and interior designers, who are buying for lifestyle residences.

"Before, furniture was meant to be functional rather than decorative. Now, people have learned to upgrade their tastes and living standards and prefer furniture that are stylish, decorative, and functional and those that give a sense of well-being and satisfaction," said De Dios.

Originally targeting the middle market, the company has since had to niche-market upwards because of the high cost of materials.

"Our products are a bit pricey for the middle class but we are priced a lot lower than all of the other high-end stores," Neri said.

To accommodate the demands of Indigo and customized orders, sister company, Olive Circle has also expanded, buying the larger machines of a furniture factory that closed down and hiring more help during the peak months from September to February.

"Although we have not participated in any trade fair, we have received two export orders as a result of referrals from satisfied clients. For now though, there is much yet to us be do in the domestic market," said De Dios.
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