An inspiring story of an Eco & Socially friendly 100% Pinoy made products

Sunday, August 06, 2023

We, Filipinos are very talented and competitive in different fields. We tend to use our resources and come up with things that can help us in our daily lives and promote local ingenuity as well. I always buy local products because I know that I am also helping our local entrepreneurs.  

Patronizing our local products is one simple way that every Filipino could do and it is an act of showing love for the country. We should prefer our local products over the imported ones. We should not be easily fascinated by the big brand names of the imported products because we can also create something BIG on our own. We have to believe that our local products are globally competitive and have endless possibilities for success by patronizing local products we are promoting our own culture. As Filipinos, we are naturally artistic when it comes in making our own products. 

The Filipino creativity and ingenuity should be shared to different parts of the world.  When we buy local products such as handicrafts and woven products, we promote how rich and beautiful our culture is, because it shows the creativity of the Filipinos who made it. As Filipinos, we should be proud of our own unique talents and show the world that the Filipino products can also compete with imported products. Lastly, we help our economy by patronizing local products. 

With this in mind, I am happy that I got the chance to meet an entrepreneur who's been making a big name in the footwear & lifestyle industry - HABI FOOTWEAR & HABI LIFESTYLE.

Habi promotes responsible fashion, Pinoy pride and social involvement through 100% Filipino-made, environment-friendly footwear. HABI in Tagalog means weaving or woven pattern.

Janine Mikaella Chiong - One of the founders of HABI Footwear

Since 2011, its wide range of comfortable espadrilles and sandals competes in the fashion retail industry under Sosyal Revolution, Inc., managed by three social entrepreneurs, Janine Chiong, Paola Savillo, and Bernadee Uy.

Janine Mikaella Chiong, known to her friends as Nin, is President and CEO and Head of Sales & Marketing for Habi Footwear. Prior to reestablishing Habi after university, she briefly worked as a Marketing Assistant in GlaxoSmithKline Philippines, and in her time in university was President of Musmos, a sector-based organization that works with empowering the urban poor youth. Her love for our less fortunate brothers and sisters was what led her to pursue the Social Entrepreneurship track for her business thesis, which led to her journey with Habi Footwear. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Ateneo de Manila University, and besides Habi is into financial investments through insurance, stocks, and foreign currency. Outside of work, she likes traveling, cooking and baking, writing, photography, biking, and yoga.

Habi works in partnership with four communities across Quezon City, members of whom weave mats made out of scrap cloth from shirt factories, which are then procured directly by the company and sent to manufacturers for final assembly into shoes. This ensures that the weavers earn at least five times what they would normally earn had they gone through middle men. Currently, Habi engages a total of 30 weavers on an output basis, around half of whom get to earn as much as Php200.00 a day with good output. 

Some of their Men & Women Collection
Habi Footwear offers everything from espadrilles to sandals and heels and flats.

As a social enterprise, Habi does not only aim for business growth, it also contributes positive social impact through these ways:

- It provides livelihood opportunities to the mothers in the communities, and further expands their hard and soft skills through training.
- It helps reduce solid waste in the environment by using up-cycled scrap cloth in its products.
It promotes a change in lifestyle through responsible fashion, upholding a statement that is both socially aware and environmentally concerned.
- In the near future, Habi Footwear wishes to expand to other fashion apparel and products that utilize authentic Filipino woven materials, continuing to walk its way to a happy future.

Aside from HABI footwear, HABI also have hand-weaved pouches, bags, reusable bags, wallet and even a pouch where you can put your gadgets:

Janine shared that she wanted to highlight the talents of the mothers who weaves the stylish products, aside from helping them, we are all promoting locally made 100% Pinoy product.

Anyone who purchases these shoes enters into a community where giving back is consciously thought about and celebrated. Habi Footwear thus sells a lifestyle of conscious consumerism as much as much as actual footwear.
What started as a college project then to an online store on Facebook, HABI can now be availed at different online stores and physical stores in different key cities in the Philippines. More and more people are supporting locally made products and with the quality that they offer, it's no brainer that will surely soar even higher in the marketplace and into the hearts of every Filipinos especially with their goal of empowering communities.

Their story about putting up HABI Footwear and Lifestyle is really inspiring. At an early age, they have come up with a business that can help the community and the country as a whole. An inspiring story that needs to be shared so that more people especially the youth, can be encouraged to earn money and at the same time help the community and the ecosystem. We need more of these people who can truly jump start our beliefs when it comes to business, charity and being eco-friendly. Plus, this is proudly FILIPINO products, we should support and promote LOCALLY produced so that we can compete globally and people around the globe will appreciate more what we can offer. #GoLokal

You can buy HABI Footwear and HABI Lifestyle at ROOTS KATIPUNAN
Unit 6D, FBR Arcade, Katipunan Avenue 
Quezon City

Visit their social media sites for more details:

This story is an entry to COMCO Mundo’s “UNMASKED: The COMCO Mundo Write to Ignite Season 3”.  The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities. “UNMASKED” aims to explore how each mask is a person brimming with hope and wonders to share with others, as well as why it is important to tell their inspiring journeys in life. The “Write to Ignite” Season 3 is made possible by COMCO Mundo League of Enterprises, with airasia, Babyflo, PHILUSA Corporation, Century Tuna, Licealiz, Lamoiyan Corporation, Rémy Martin, and Uratex Monoblock as brand partners.

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