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Rikki Kwek unlocks creative talent amid pandemic

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Rikki Kwek unlocks creative talent amid pandemic
Former ABS-CBN news anchor Rikki Kwek Mathay has been ‘spreading love and healing’ through crystals not just to clients in the Philippines, but also Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, France and the US.

Fresh out of college, she was one of the youngest news anchors at the age of 19 when she started her career in ABS-CBN back in the early 2000s. But after five years of working seven days a week took their toll, Rikki Kwek Mathay decided to settle down and start a family.

She is blessed to have a loving husband, Cris Mathay (a three-term councilor from San Juan City), and two lovely daughters. She is also an active member of various charity institutions, not to mention the Philippine Red Cross where she has served as a director since 2012.

Sometime during the pandemic and the lockdowns we’ve been experiencing these past 18 months, Rikki managed to unlock her creative talent and launch a successful boutique. Here’s the story of Tocador (Instagram: tocadorboutique), as revealed in my Q&A with Rikki.

How did Tocador start? What was your inspiration?

“Tocador is a lockdown baby. I grew up with the term tocador (which means dresser in Spanish), thanks to my Ilocano mom. I have so many precious little items and knick-knacks in my tocador. One day during the lockdown, I decided to do a Marie Kondo and kept the things that spark joy in my life while sharing with my staff everything else that would make them happy. Then one day, I thought to myself, people are stuck at home and probably feeling low because of the pandemic. Maybe I can start sharing some positivity and healing of the spirit at least with the things that make me happy, including self-care items like scented candles, loungewear and my favorite, beautiful gems and crystal jewelry.

“It was also serendipitous that my daughters Cristah and Mischka were asking me where the remnants of my crystal collection were. They are both into crystal jewels so that inspired me to start our semi-precious jewel collection for Tocador. Since then, we have been spreading love and healing through our crystals all over the Philippines and to clients in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, France and the United States.”

Where do you source your materials?

“I source my materials from all around the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and some stones from Russia. I am blessed to have very good, reliable friends from all over the globe who help me when I need to source specific materials. Because they also know how detail-oriented I am. They carefully handpick the best semi-precious stones for me. I make sure to get topnotch materials and give extra TLC (tender loving care) to each item that comes out from Tocador.”

What are the benefits of wearing crystal/charm bracelets?

“I used to wear charm bracelets as early as the year 2000 when my Chinese friend opened her crystals shop in Manila. At that time, I only thought of wearing them as accessories when I was still a TV news anchor/host in ABS-CBN. But with age and wisdom, I learned to appreciate the vast benefits of crystals not just for visuals but for the spirit and one’s energy as well. Along the way, I learned that each stone has healing benefits. As a health advocate, I believe in doctors’ medical advice in treating illnesses, but if something else helps, what is there to lose? I think the use of crystals and gems is universal and cuts across cultures and religions. If anything, the sheer beauty and preciousness of our stones can spark happiness among its wearers.”

How do you come up with designs? Did you take any formal lessons?

“We try to make each design as special for our clients as possible. We have ready-made simple designs for certain ‘manifestations,’ but I personally talk to my clients and ask them what they really want. Coming up with a design can take as short as one day or as long as a week of daily design edits and consultation.

“We custom make our designs and build a relationship with our customers and learn their individual aesthetic, personalities and wishes. Together with my feng shui partner, we come up with the best crystals and my talented artist then helps me put these stones together. There’s always a Tocador twist in Ilocano we call arjud. There’s no direct English or Filipino translation, but it means lovable, cute, maarte. Our bracelets, no matter how simple, will always have a certain twist like our unique charms, tassels and flowers.”

Do you miss being in front of the camera?

“I don’t miss so much working in front of the camera as much as I miss the people I used to work with since they all became like family. I will forever be grateful to ABS-CBN for believing in that young version of me who lived such a sheltered life growing up. But after five years working seven days a week and doing the same routine, I opted for ‘early retirement’ and focused on my growing family.

“I am a hands-on mom and I like taking proactive roles in NGOs like Philippine Red Cross and other charity institutions. My kids and I actively help out. I just feel so blessed in life that it’s great to pay it forward any way I can.”

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