Domesticity founder Mariel San Agustin: “Our goal is to inspire others to create a space where they feel content and happy and at the same time know that they are helping others in need.” Domesticity is a partner of Gawad Kalinga and has helped build houses in GK Dr. Rafael San Agustin Legacy Village.

Domesticity bliss
CRAZY QUILT - Tanya T. Lara (The Philippine Star) - July 28, 2017 - 4:00pm

It began on a sugar farm in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental with only a handful of people — weavers working with indigenous raw materials such as pandan, jute and sack  — who relied on weaving as their main source of livelihood.

Mariel San Agustin, who founded the handicrafts company Domesticity in 2002, says, “We wanted to support the weaving communities in nearby towns as well and we’ve since incorporated other materials such as leather, wrought iron and wicker. At the start, I was faced with a lot of resistance and the realization that not only did I have to set up a business, I also had to change the mentality of people for the better. Not everyone was open to change.”

Today, Mariel has over 20 employees working for her; she supplies room amenities to hotels and resorts around the country, giveaways and packaging to companies and weddings, and private labels for department stores and boutiques.

She also set up an online store five years ago and partnered with Gawad Kalinga, turning the business into a social enterprise “that gives back to each employee behind every Domesticity product.”

Before Domesticity, Mariel worked for five years in a home and lifestyle store in Manila. Then she felt the need to create something on her own.

 

 

 

 

Yet, this industry wasn’t even in her plans — but apparently it was in the cards. “It just sort of fell on my lap,” she says. “I was a fresh grad looking for a job and learned that a friend of mine was resigning. She was working for one of the pioneers of the home and lifestyle stores in the country, Area Home Store. I decided to apply for the position and eventually got the job.”

I remember Area Home Store in the late 1990s. It was such a new concept at a time when home accessories stores were not very exciting. Area at SM Megamall was sleek, chic and the first such store to have a café within the store.

“My passion for the home industry began at Area. I had firsthand experience working with local artisans and discovering the talent and artistry we have in the Philippines.”

Domesticity products have a dainty, country touch to them, from the watering cans to the woven trays, candles, bathroom caddies, hampers and storage solutions.

“I am slowly seeing individuals spending for quality and aesthetically pleasing accessories for their home.  It’s nice to know that people are giving importance to beautifying their own space. After all, this is where they start and end their day.”

Mariel points out that if our clothes can affect our mood, what more what surrounds us at home? “Our goal at Domesticity is to inspire others to create a space where they feel content and happy and at the same time know that they are helping others in need.”

In 2007, Domesticity partnered with Gawad Kalinga to build homes. Mariel emphasizes that “the work never stops once a family is awarded a Gawad Kalinga home. This is where Domesticity comes in.  We not only have built a few homes for families in GK Dr. Rafael San Agustin Legacy Village, but we have also provided stable employment for past sugar laborers, basic healthcare to families, preschool education and daycare for their children and support for ongoing values formation programs.”

In September last year, Domesticity opened its first pop-up store in Glorietta while Domesticity’s expansion to online business adds to the regular flow of orders that sustain employment.

The website mydomesticity.com ships anywhere in the Philippines and Mariel is looking taking this worldwide in the future.

“Our website has given us an opportunity to introduce Domesticity to a wider market outside Metro Manila and Negros Occidental. We recently added a bridal registry category on the site for engaged couples. I think the future is online and for businesses like mine, it makes things more convenient for customers to discover you. The reach is wider and cost is less.   I recently had an export buyer from the US message me through my Facebook page (@mydomesticityph).  There really is no telling who you will meet through your social media accounts.”

* * *

Visit the author’s travel blog at www.findingmyway.net. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @iamtanyalara.

Visit Domesticity’s website at www.mydomesticity.com. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @mydomesticityph. Visit their pop-up store at level 3 of  Glorietta 4. Email inquiry@mydomesticity.com.

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