How Your Purchase Changes Lives In The Philippines 🇵🇭

by Gelaine Santiago December 08, 2016

How Your Purchase Changes Lives In The Philippines 🇵🇭

We wanted to understand how our artisans’ and partners’ lives have changed since they began creating products for you, so we asked.

Over the last year, we’ve been working with Olivia & Diego, the sustainable fashion brand behind our collection of upcycled jewelry from the Philippines. We spoke with Yana Santiago, founder of Olivia & Diego, and one of their artisans, Jay-Ann Melecio.

Jay-Ann Melecio, Artisan from Olivia & Diego
Jay-Ann Melecio, Artisan

Jay-Ann has been crafting jewelry for Olivia & Diego for over two years, and is now their most experienced artisan. She can create full sets of bracelets in minutes, and has seen (and overcome) more than her share of challenges. Jay-Ann is a survivor of sex trafficking in the Philippines and works hard to support her family.

How has your life changed for you and your family?

Since working with Olivia & Diego, the immediate needs of my family were taken care of. I earn enough now to pay our bills like electricity and water. This has given me enough confidence to dream or aspire to what could happen next. I'm slowly learning how to set aside financially for the future. 

I have also learned skills that are essential for work. O&D has given me good training for work. I currently work at home as my house is an hour away from the city, but I make sure I work hard to get orders done. I take comfort in knowing that I have something productive to do at home instead of doing nothing. When I start working on the ropes, it calms my mood. I now take pride in what I do. 

What are you most looking forward to in the future?

Many things! A better home, to start with. I'm working hard to be able to achieve that dream. I hope my future children to be able to go to school and get an education. I want them to be healthier and wiser in their decisions. I also hope that I can work with businesses or have my own, even if I didn't finish my secondary education.

If you could send a message to customers in North America, what would you say?

Thank you for liking what I do. It truly inspires me to see my work, the work I've done with my own hands, be sold globally. I'm happy that they find my colorful jewelry so beautiful. It's a great feeling.

Yana Santiago, Founder of Olivia & Diego
Yana Santiago, Founder of Olivia & Diego

Yana is the heart, soul, and brain behind Olivia & Diego. She works closely with artisans like Jay-Ann and develops partnerships with non-profits and co-operatives in the Philippines. Yana hires new artisans, works with her team to train them, and hustles tirelessly to ensure they have enough work to care for their families.

How has your life changed for you and your family since starting Olivia & Diego?

I've always been unrelenting in saying that it's not about me but about the artisans. They are the heart of the business. I believe this is one of the personal realizations that has changed me. I am able to learn from the artisans I work with, and in turn, my supportive family also learn from my experiences. They are now able to grasp the concept of social entrepreneurship and why I'm so passionate about it.  

What are you most looking forward to in the future?

I look forward to the day when I am able to grow the social business. It's not an easy journey, but I hope that I would be able to do what I love and what I'm passionate about for hopefully a very long time. I look forward to seeing the artisans flourish. I believe that they are empowered enough to work harder for their future.

If you could send a message to customers in North America, what would you say?

I'm grateful that you could see what I see: women who are empowered to create something beautiful and worthy. Thank you for dreaming alongside with these women and for being their constant source of inspiration.

Artisans making jewelry for Olivia & Diego
Artisans making jewelry for Olivia & Diego

Sneak Peak at Olivia & Diego's new collection
Sneak Peak at Olivia & Diego's new collection

When you shop ethically, your impact goes beyond one person. You empower our makers like Jay-Ann, our partner entrepreneurs like Yana, and the communities that support them.

But you also empower someone else …

… you!

By knowing the people behind your products and making conscious decisions to empower them, you’re shaping the world and future you want to see.

An empowered life is one that empowers others, and we are so grateful to be part of your journey.

Thank you for supporting our artisans and our partners. Do you have a message you’d like to send to Yana and Jay-Ann? Submit it in the comments and we’ll send it their way!
 

Discover Olivia & Diego's products



Gelaine Santiago
Gelaine Santiago

Author

Gelaine is co-founder of Cambio Market – an online shop for handcrafted, ethical products that give back. She's also co-founder of ChooseSocial.PH – the go-to resource to learn about the social enterprise scene in the Philippines. She's pretty nerdy and loves to talk about all things social enterprises, careers, entrepreneurship, travel, start-ups, and (of course) food.


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