Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Dianna Marisse "Yana" Uy Santiago is the humble and silent mover of worthy cause that bridges the gap between fashion and the social environment. At 23, Yana has established a brand of fashionable arm candies and neckpieces which are not only sold in Davao, but in other parts of the region and the world.

Dubbed as Olivia and Diego, this young brand has already gained momentum and sparked the interest of both buyers across all sectors and the discerning ones from reputable magazines and digital media. 

"Our pieces are sold in some cities in the Philippines as well as in Germany, USA, Australia, Singapore and Japan," beams the designer.

Design Aesthetics

"Olivia & Diego is basically a start-up business, a brand which evolved from different kinds of handmade accessories. Our vision and objective is to remind people that great things can come from recycling/upcycling," explains Yana.
"I've always believed in the power of color. I want to create jewelry/accessories that are colorful and, at the same time, showcase Filipino craftsmanship. I want each and every piece to be along the fashion-forward line, but doesn't veer away from that indigenous and handmade feel. For all our styles, we make use of old, cotton-knit t-shirts. Few of our bestsellers include the pieces we call Apayao Asul, Molbog Asul, Gaddang Abo, Tumandok Abo and Bontoc Abo."

What's In A Brand

One might ask, "Who are Olivia and Diego?"

Yana expounds on how she coined her design label. "It was such a random incident. My friend and I went on week-long surfing trip, a week before the Kadayawan Festival. We spontaneously decided to not stay in a fancy place and, instead, borrowed a tent. We met a family of backpackers from Morocco. The couple’s names were Olivia and Diego. Even for that short while we talked, I got attached to them. I was so inspired by their passion for travel and life. I named the brand after the couple to remind myself of the things that really matter in life: relationships, family, friends and freedom. When we got back to the city, I was itching to start something, fueled with that imagination and inspiration.  Soon, I saw myself drawing up this humble brand that sells upcycled jewlery."


"I think, what makes Olivia and Diego different from other local jewelry and accessory brands is its story and the fact that it's a social business in Davao," shares Yana. 

"In production, we work with three communities: a community of survivors of human trafficking, stay-at-home women and mothers who provide for their babies. I taught them the required skills to produce these beautiful bracelets and necklaces."

Business From The Heart

"I've always been interested in fashion, the philosophy and vision behind every art at craft. Back in college, when I got accepted at the University of the Philippines, I took a degree in Clothing Technology --- a course that focuses on the Philippine Textiles and Garments Industry. My family was quite hesitant about my course because of the unfavorable state of our fashion industry due to the rise of international brands coming in. I stood up for my passion and promised myself that I will build a career that I will be proud of."


"The clothing technology program made me realize that the industry is more than the glamour people see on the runway, on window displays, inside retail stores and flashes online. Fashion is a mix of research, design, production and marketing; It is an industry supported by copyright laws and patented designs. The daily dealings are made up of rolls of textiles which are usually finished with toxic chemicals only to be washed away with gallons of water. Fashion employs a majority of factory workers, the marginalized who are struggling for ethical working conditions. Going into the history and philosophy of fashion helped me gain a higher respect for the industry and for every individual involved in the design process. It gave me a broader perspective in terms of production and fired up my curiosity and goal in finding ways to make my mark by making a difference."
"I first fell in love with social entrepreneurship when I started working as an intern. I was already familiar with the idea of a social enterprise, but working with one is a different thing. This social enterprise work with exploited women in slum areas who earn a living by scavenging waste in landfills. To lift them out of poverty, they are made into empowered artisans who create home accessories and woven bags. These women, who once depended on middlemen, are now more dignified members of society. Working closely with them made me see them in a different way: they have interesting lives and amazing artisanal skills. They have so much to offer and what they need are people who won’t look down on them or give them money out of pity. Like any other human being, they want to feel worthy. These women made me realize that my true purpose in life is to reach out to people like them. I have learned that in order to help them, one has to really listen to their stories. These people have so much to say. These people are not the faces one sees in social networking sites asking for ‘likes’ or comments,  there is so much to tell and the most effective way is to keep an environment free from arrogance and personal gain."

"I joined the Social Business Challenge last year to become a Young Challenger in a Global Social Business Summit. Luckily, I was one of the 60 Young Challengers from all over the world to attend the Young Challengers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was an honor to represent our country. I learned so much from that summit and got to meet one of my heroes too -- Muhammad Yunus."
At work, Yana finds fulfillment in what she calls a creative collaboration. "I get inspiration from the people I work with, the women in the communities. They have never made such big progress in their lives and I'm proud of every one of them. I want Olivia & Diego customers (or, as I'd like to call them, ambassadors and advocates) to feel like they are part of our story and mission, and that their purchases have helped influence change in each artisan's life."


Follow Olivia and Diego on Facebook and Instagram for more of their custom pieces and designs. You may also send your orders and inquiries to
Story published on my newspaper columnm, Metro Mom.
A1 and A4, INdulge, Edge Davao, Vol. 8 Issue no. 9, 15 April 2015.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Fashion styling is one of the fast growing careers in this modern day and age. Given the power and influence of tri-media and online channels, most industries have invested more attention and effort in brand and image. Part of marketing and advertising brands is communicating values and image to your audience by way of visuals and imagery. Both require expertise in putting together style elements into one set, putting a scene into life by way of providing all the essentials, including wardrobe, that each set up requires. This is where a stylist comes in handy. 
Pam Quiñones, Liz Uy, Rainier Dagala… These are just few of the names that ring a bell when the term fashion styling comes to mind. The demand for fashion stylists originated from the need for a professional and creative eye to help improve a person or a company’s image and conceptualize ideas for commercials, film productions and magazine shoots. Most of the people of this profession work freelance while some are employed in publishing and events companies, advertising agencies, fashion designers, retail brands, etc.  
In Durianburg, one of the many who are slowly creating a name for himself/herself is Angela “Ella” Canave Anung, a 24-year old Accountancy graduate. Her foray into the fashion scene proved to be a sensible choice as she had always been fascinated with clothing design as early as high school age. “I knew where my passion lies, so I summed up my guts to do some self-study and email professional stylists for tips and info on how to make a career in fashion,” says Ella. “I also messaged photographers and designers in town, offered them my services as stylist for their pictorials. I knew I had to establish myself first by creating a good portfolio to show everyone what I can do.” Soon, Ella got calls from clients asking for her help in engagement shoot while some are for collaborative work for magazine and portrait shoots.

“When I do styling projects/stints, I always ask for the theme and peg of the shoot, considering the point of view of the photographer and client. Then I ask about the personalities of the subject/s or model/s. Are they comfortable wearing anything or they just want to stick on a certain type of selections?  It’s also important to see the model, or at least a full body photo, so I can be familiar with the body type I’m going to style. I, then, create the ideal shape for the subject/model. The purpose is to find a focal point and come up with a creative style that falls at a flattering angle. For example, exposing skin below your neck down to the boob cleavage can finely draw the eye downward, giving an illusion of a longer upper body silhouette. From there, I research for ideas on how to make the peg unique and attention worthy (e.g. poses, hair and makeup, lighting, clothing textures, possible props, etc.). After that, I scout, gather and produce the props needed.”

Sharing her insights on the modern day woman, Ella takes into consideration a utilitarian wardrobe to complement the versatile woman in this cosmopolitan world. “A modern woman has a classic sophistication which can get her through the many seasons without sacrificing comfort and function. She follows her instincts and I believe we are more knowledgeable of which cuts and prints flatter her curves and smile. She is able to pull off a look and make it seem effortless for her.”
(Photos by Paul Borromeo of Leadfoto Studios)
Style tips from Ella:
Corporate Wear  “Remember, you want to look respectable and stylish. You can always play with colors (such as teal, burgundy, plum) and prints (stripes, bold patterns) -- though for me it’s best to keep your colors in the same hue but different shades. Neutrals are your best friend. Choose flats or heels either but best to say no to embellishments, gems, or anything with glitters.”
Cockatail Events“Keep your look somewhere between low-key and posh. You don’t want to look like a walking chandelier, ey? But before choosing your wardrobe, know the theme of the event. Keep your skirt length at knee-low or mid-thigh high (at most).”
Street Casual “Your best weapon is your personality.  Whatever you want to echo when you’re out in the streets or just strolling in the mall, go for it. Mix and match if you want, just keep everything in moderate. Let’s say, there’s wrong with print on print; as long as it doesn’t blind the eyes. Or button-downs paired with a leather pencil skirt paired with sneakers are quick fixes for you. Just take note, street casual calls for a laidback and effortless flair.”

Formal “Understand the dress code. Consider wearing clothes that can be dressed up or dressed down. If you think you’re overly dressed, convert your look to a semi-formal one by maybe removing an accessory or removing the tie for men and opening one button on top. I encourage ladies to fit their chosen dress a day/s before the event. This will give you time to make the necessary alterations. With accessories, avoid being so matchy-matchy. Accessories should complement your entire look. Perfect fit is the key! You must be confident enough to strut your look!  Kapag bongga ang fit sayo at nakakaflatter ang dress, mas masarap irampa! With accessories, avoid being so matchy-matchy. Accessories should complement your entire look. Then heels for the ladies! Nude ones are the safest choice. However, if the shoe design complements the look, I’d say, why not?”
---Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1 and A4, INdulge, Edge Davao, Vol. 7 Issue no. 233, 11 February 2015.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


The possibilities are endless for creative-minded people.  Designing and printing invitations are just few of the many profitable ventures glistening in the future of artistically inclined individuals. Some start part-time with less startup costs, while there are those who throw in all their bets and invest in a full-blown business. Many of them can attest that return is beyond what they expected.
“Creativity is actually your biggest investment in this business,” shares Lorelei Joy “Mae” Trinidad. This 35 – year old mother of 2 started offering services for layout and print back in 2011. Her line of products includes not only event stationeries but also 3D invitations. “I don’t call this work because I enjoy what I do. I think that’s what’s critical in this business. The creative process takes too much time, from conceptualization to printing and cutting. You have to love all these ‘dirty work,’ so to speak; otherwise it will just burn you out. Every client requires a new concept, thus the need for new ideas and inspiration.”
“I’m home based, which gives me more time to oversee matters of the house. I get to bring my kids to school and prepare meals for the family. I dedicate the rest of my free time to my craft. This business has given me a sense of fulfillment because I get to be with my family even while I’m at work.”

Mae's venture into the "creative" business began when she realized she has the knack for stylized layered paper cut-outs, such as her daughter’s birthday cards and stationeries. “I was such a fan of prints and paper even when I was young. Motherhood, in a way, rekindled my love for patterns and the art of paper folding. I just never thought it would turn out to be a successful business for me. I guess nothing is really impossible if you set all your energy and passion into something you love.”
“An invitation is like a first glimpse of any type of occasion. Nowadays, there’s such a great demand for artists who can cater to the needs of parents and couples. Having this in mind, I summed up my courage to test the waters and see how my design and printing services would fare. I’ve been lucky ever since. Orders just keep pouring in. Every new project excites me and gives me an opportunity to explore other mediums and techniques.”

Mae’s 3D prints are not your typical stationeries as all the details and cuts are intricate in shape and design.  “Each pack of 30 pieces would take me about a week. I get most of my materials here in Davao but there are also some types of paper which I need to source from other places. My husband plays an integral part in helping acquire materials from abroad and in setting up my craft room.”
On top of invitations and stationeries, Mae also customizes mugs and tumblers, giveaways and favor boxes, PVC nametags and 3D table decorations.

Check out Adorable Invites by KikayMae on Facebook to view more of Mae’s products and sample work. You may also inquire and order through mobile number 09328220507 or email

Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1 ad A4, INdulge, Edge Davao, Vol. 7 Issue no. 238, 4 February 2015.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Motherhood has its way of changing one woman's life altogether.  It opens one's mind to greater possibilities, leading the path to self-discovery. 

In the case of budding entrepreneur Natalie Te Hao, it became a turning point where she decided to take a detour from her career plans and rekindle and realize an old dream.

"I spent a lot of time exploring what I really wanted to do in life. I even went abroad just to study Science and Accounting, and eventually worked in an investment company. Despite the fact that I had all the support I needed from my family, I still felt there was something else I wanted to fulfill. I guess nothing is greater than my first love which is crafting," shares Natalie.

After spending 5 years in Canada, she decided to get married and settle down in Davao. In her humble nest she was able to start life anew and make a family of her own.

With the birth of her daughter, Leuvane Louis or "Leuvy", Natalie realized she wanted to dedicate her time and attention to the baby and all matters in and around her house. Her husband, Sam, is a businessman and she also helps out in their business in any way she could even from home.

"I've always wanted a little girl and I've been granted this wish. I get excited at the thought of dressing up my daughter in tutus I made myself. I went back to making DIY projects, like I was a kid once again, making headbands and clips out of scrap fabric and ribbons. I get giddy and my imagination runs wild whenever I see leather, strips of cloth, lace, buttons, strings, glitters, glue, bold prints and bright colors."
"Knowing how much I love crafting, my husband put up a little nook for me in our bedroom, where I could work on crafts while my daughter's asleep. I would post my little projects on social media to show my friends my latest creation for Leuvy. Little did I know that their own friends and relatives started to take notice of my work. Then I began receiving inquiries and orders for handmade accessories for special occasions and photo shoots."

Baby pictorials are so hot with parents and photographers nowadays and it helped Natalie create a niche market of her own. She got referrals from one parent to another and her accessories began selling like hotcakes. Little Leuvy, as she dubbed her line of handmade creations, grew into a collection of fabric blooms from clips, hair bows and head bands, plus some wedding accessories such as bouquets and boutonnières. 

"It was overwhelming at first because I didn't expect that I could make a business out of what I am doing. It all started as a hobby. Now, I find myself basking and sharing in the joy and excitement of other mothers, seeing them dote on their child the same way I do. It's gratifying in the sense that I get to be part of their family memories. This brand is very personal to me because it's inspired by my love for family," beams Natalie.

For orders, send a message to the Little Leuvy account on Facebook and Instagram. You may also contact Natalie at 09235276451.

Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1, INdulge,
Edge Davao, Vol. 7 Issue no. 213, 14 January 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Accessories make a perfect gift for any special occasion. There’s so much thought dedicated to the process of choosing the right article that will match your friend or loved one’s personality and sense of style. Some would choose to match it with a person’s color preference or skin tone. For a change, why not customize the piece to icons which define a person’s appeal and favorite things?

Unlock your best memories of a special someone and create a precious keepsake out of them. Full-time mom Tatiana JeanIna” Bautista – Moran has recently introduced a novel gift idea of personalizing a charmed locket necklace with little trinkets inside. “Favorite Things,” as Ina would call them, are charming neckpieces which can give more character to a person’s fashion statement. Aside from being an accessory to an outfit, the gift itself becomes more meaningful for the person receiving it as each necklace is tailor-made in collaboration with the giver himself.

“I really involve buyers in the design process. I let them go through my selection of charms, locket frames and chains. They get to mix and match pieces which remind them of a memorable experience or perception of a special someone. There are also statement charms and letters, should they wish to spell out how they feel about a person, exactly,” shares the pretty mom, who seem to have inherited the business acumen and creativity from her young looking aunt and fellow mompreneur, Mimi Vergara – Tupas.

“It’s a great way of showing your appreciation to a friend, relative or lover. In a way, it channels the kid in you as this design process will inspire and ignite your creativity, just like a little child who’s busy with his drawing or painting. In the end, it’s a necklace chosen and made by you. I am just the person who puts the style elements together and seal the memory into a locket necklace. It’s a great exercise of the mind and feelings, as it takes you down the memory lane while you choose the icons that would suit a person’s personality and image.”

“This just started out as a hobby which later on realized into an online business. I pay my clients a visit so they can personally select and design the necklaces. Prices vary depending on the type and number of charms, plus the size of the locket ,” explains Ina.
“What makes this gift unique is its sentimental value and the fact that it’s very personal. These statement pieces are unique and do not have replicas in stores because they are created specifically for a certain someone.”
For orders, please contact Ina Bautista - Moran at mobile no. 0917 803 1425.
Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1 and A4, INdulge, Edge Davao, Vol. 7 Issue no. 203, 24 December 2014.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


This generation has seen the birth of so many home grown brands. This business trend resonates well around the metro as a good percentage of the population has made the practical and sensible move to support local. In a way, you can say the market has matured and found a deeper connection to and appreciation for artisanal creations, homemade epicurean delights and crafts made from indigenous materials.
While most of today’s artists and designers have explored the many types and uses of eco-friendly materials and adapted them into their production, Erika Soriano Mata has found a gem in recyclables and made good use out of them by turning them into fashionable bags.
“Our products are made entirely of tie box twines,” shares the budding entrepreneur. Erika, who is a full-time mom to 3 children, recently launched her line of bags under the brand called Humabi. “It means ‘weave,’ which is how the bags are made.”
Erika Soriano Mata, the woman behind Humabi
 “I put up this brand in collaboration with my daughters. They are part of the design process. We wanted the bags to complement any outfit. It’s utilitarian in the sense that you can wear it to any event or occasion, even on a regular day. The idea of creating our own brand just sparked from our shared interest in fashion and style, plus the vision we have for the family’s outreach program.” Erika and her husband, Richard, have long since provided assistance to young adults who cannot support themselves in school. “All our scholars are studying at the Philippine Science High School. We really hope we can send more children to school by getting the additional resources.” With this goal in mind, Erika launched Humabi to raise funds for their charity work.
“Think of it as fashion for a cause. Every bag you buy sends a child to school. The business provides livelihood to our weavers who are women and mothers in the correctional institution. There really is so much heart in this project and I couldn’t be any happier with how everything turned out. The response from the market is also overwhelming. We’ve received so many orders from women, especially fellow moms. I’m so excited to share this blessing with our scholars,” beams Erika.
What other mompreneurs say about Humabi:

"I was impressed with the quality of its workmanship as well as the designs. It was obvious to me that each bag was designed with much thought and created with love and care. What’s even more impressive are the aspirations behind Humabi. This brand is a perfect mixture of style, function and purpose." – Kay Gempesaw 
“Only a few can definitely mix taste, class, substance, enterprise and purpose. Humabi nailed all of the above. It comes to no surprise to me because Erika, being a woman I greatly adore, exemplifies just the same. She is all of the above, plus she does this with such grace, humility and a pure heart. Each woman would surely love to be just that sometimes and Humabi lends us a chance to be a tiny bit of one, or everything in our own little way.”  - Mimi Vergara-Tupas
“Humabi encapsulates the heartfelt commitment of the people behind it in their promise of a brighter future for brilliant young minds, and the hope of regaining the spirit of the women in the correctional institution. Erika Soriano-Mata, the driving force behind this admirable advocacy, found beauty in the ordinary. Her tasteful designs were translated into carefully crafted elegant bags.” – Bianca Barretto – Uy
“Humabi is very close to my heart because of all the love and passion that is put into it. ... Each piece tells a story and I carry it with love and pride knowing that it has helped many.“Humabi is very close to my heart because of all the love and passion that is put into it. Each piece tells a story and I carry it with love and pride knowing that it has helped many. It also makes a very special gift to your loved ones.” – Marga Montemayor – Nograles
To order Humabi bags, visit or email
(photos courtesy of Erika Soriano Mata)
Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1, INdulge,
Edge Davao, Vol. 7 Issue no. 192, 10 December 2014.