Gouache Artisans in the Philippines

In Photos, Visiting Our Gouache Artisans in Philippines 🇵🇭

We’ve been in the Philippines for just over a week now and we’re learning so much. Last week, we had the privilege to visit Marikina, where the artisans behind our beautiful Gouache waxed canvas products are based.

The Gouache storefront in Manila
The Gouache storefront in Manila. Gouache creates leather and waxed canvas goods made by skilled artisans in the Philippines. We’ve been working with them since October last year.

Marikina is home to many skilled bag and leather makers who used to work for big international brands
Marikina is home to many skilled bag and leather makers who used to work for big international brands. Focused on maximizing profit, many of these corporations moved their production to neighbouring countries where labour is cheaper, leaving many artisans unemployed and unable to support their families. It was here that our partner Gouache realized they could have a real impact.

Rio, artisan for Gouache Waxed Canvas
Rio is one of the first artisans that Gouache employed. At first, she and her husband lived and worked in a cramped one-room house with cloth sacks for walls. Through her earnings from Gouache, she and her family were able to save enough money to build real concrete walls. They’ve even been able to add a second and third floor to their house to accommodate their growing family. Here she is posing for our upcoming Fashion Revolution campaign in April.

Gelaine Santiago interviewing artisan from Gouache
Me interviewing Rio. I asked her about her life before and after Gouache, how her family has been impacted by her work, and what her hopes and dreams are for the future. She was super fun to speak with!

Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer with our photographer Ben
Jérôme, with our photographer, Ben.

Rico, artisan for Gouache Waxed Canvas
After Rio’s home, we visited Rico. Rico is an artisan living in another part of Marikina. When Gouache founders Ann and Louie met him four years ago, he was very ill and couldn’t find employment. After working with Gouache, he was able to cover his medical bills and get proper treatment. Since then, he’s made a full recovery, has actual savings (previously unheard of), and he and his wife have even re-built part of their home.

Rico's wife, artisan at Gouche Waxed Canvas
Rico’s wife. They both work together to create products out of their home-based workshop.

Rico's home, where some Gouache artisans are working
When we arrived at Rico’s home, everyone was hanging out and just relaxing at home. As soon as we came, Rico urgently called everyone to come: “Hurry! They’re taking photos. Come and look like you’re working!” He said as we all laughed. The small workshop came alive in seconds.

Their daughter, peeking out at us from their home.

Gouache's artisan workstation
Empowerment is You.

Gelaine Santiago

Gelaine Santiago

Gelaine is a social entrepreneur, an online storyteller, and a passionate advocate for diversity and ethics in business. She’s the co-founder of Cambio & Co., an e-commerce fashion company working with Filipino artisans to celebrate Filipino craftsmanship, culture, and heritage. Gelaine is also one of the founders of Sinta & Co., the world’s first conscious Filipino wedding boutique. She was named one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2019. Find her on Instagram @gelainesantiago and www.gelainesantiago.co

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