2019 has so far been a strong year for women and female empowerment in media, business, and many other fields. We witnessed the A-Force (unofficially) assemble in Avengers: Endgame when the film was released back in April, inspiring many young girls the world over. In September, with the premiere of A Little Late with Lilly Singh on NBC, Lilly Singh became the first bisexual woman to host an American late-night talk show and currently the only female host in the male-dominated world of late-night. In the same month, Julie Sweet was officially appointed to CEO of Accenture with the New York Times naming her as “one of the most powerful women in corporate America.” And just recently in October, NASA made history with their first all-female team to lead a spacewalk at the International Space Station.
On the local scale, in October alone, we saw boxer Nesthy Petecio winning the gold at the 2019 AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championships in Russia. Also this month, actress and humanitarian advocate, Antoinette Taus, through her environmental efforts and programs was appointed as the country’s goodwill ambassador by the United Nations Environment Programme. And lastly, Casa Consunji celebrated its first anniversary. Now, one may wonder on what a furniture and decor store has anything to do with female empowerment. Well, the answer to this goes on behind the success of this interior design boutique and cafe.
The Casa‘s Beginnings
Casa Consunji was founded by interior designer, actress, entrepreneur, beauty queen, Amazing Race winner, and multi-hyphenate, Maggie Wilson-Consunji. Always one to help out those close to her, Maggie got the idea for Casa when she assisted in designing rooms for her husband’s model units and showroom at M Residences. Drawn to modern pieces made with natural materials, she saw a gap in the local market for such pieces, which she had to import from different sources just to put it all together for the model units. With this unique eye for custom, handmade pieces made from organic materials, she opened Casa Consunji at Acacia Estates Town Center in October of 2018.
Maggie’s eye for mixing the modern and the rustic, the organic with metallics, created this modern and chic look that still feels homey, which has become a trademark for Casa Consunji. On what her brand stands for, Maggie shares, “A home should be a place where you wouldn’t want to leave. It should look and feel like a resort or a hotel that you can get away to every day.” This is seen in her store’s cozy and warm vibe. Even if they change up the interiors of the store every few months, the feeling of being at home stays consistent. Consisting of many organic elements, with wood and plants abundant throughout the store, Casa Consunji’s pieces and model units are grand, yes, but never intimidating – inviting you to relax, take a seat, and stay.
A-Team Unlike Any Other
Though it started as a personal passion project, Maggie had some help along the way, which led to her assembling the all-star team she has today. “It’s so important to have the right people behind you – because my girls, you know, we always say, ‘It can be done.’ There’s no problem we can’t fix, no issue that can’t be resolved. I love that they think like me and so we work really, really well together,” she shares on her gratitude for her team – A mix of many creeds, her beautiful all-woman team is a mix of pageant queens, fresh-grads, and even childhood friends.
First to join her is best friend and star haggler, Parul Shah. Having met back in 2013 in the pageant scene, the two became close friends instantly, so close that they went as far as winning the fifth season of Amazing Race Asia back in 2016. Being the inseparable duo, Parul assisted Maggie on her first meetings with suppliers for Casa Consunji and it’s here where she found her skill for bargaining. What would have been just a one hour meeting with suppliers lasted for two or beyond, “She discovered on that trip that she has a knack for sourcing, for finding the right people, for getting the right prices–haggling,” Maggie shares on Parul’s new found skill during their trip. Laughingly, she adds, “She discovered that about herself. She’s so good at it and she’s so patient like we’ll go into a supplier, we’d be at the supplier’s warehouse or showroom and she’ll sit there for two hours until she gets the price that she wants, that she feels is good enough.” Maggie calls Parul the Go-Getter of the team, always looking out for the best deal in terms of sourcing and purchasing for the brand.
Next in the roster is Summer Shah, just three months into working for Casa and she has already earned the title of “The Hawk” from her teammates. As the Head of Operations and Branch Manager, she’s in charge of making sure everything is running smoothly and the rest of the team is doing what they have to do. “She used to be from the corporate world. She’s the one that actually puts structure into the company, because everyone else is sort of a creative. Summer’s there to anchor everyone down,” Maggie remarks on the balance Summer brings to the team. Funny enough, not only does she share the same last name with Parul, but they also share the same past. Both grew up in Dubai together and were childhood friends, and whether by fate or by serendipity, they met again in Casa Consunji as teammates. But regardless of a shared past, Summer “The Hawk” Shah keeps things very professional. Maggie continues on the importance of Summer’s role, “She keeps everyone in check, she cracks the whip and makes sure everyone’s on top of what they need to do,” truly cementing her title as the ever observant hawk.
Rounding out the team are the two youngest members, Bernie Santos and Janela Cuaton. A fresh interior design graduate from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, Bernie is the resident interior designer for their client projects as well as managing the finances for the brand. As for Janela, a fellow pageant girl, she manages the logistics of the brand making sure everything and everyone is on time for whatever project comes their way. Both in their early 20s but wise beyond their years according to Maggie. “Janela and Bernie are young but they certainly don’t behave like it. They’re very mature for their age. They’re hungry, they want to learn. That’s what I love about them,” she delightfully comments on the talent and grit of the two young ladies.
A Casa of Collaboration
A real life A-Force, if you will, this team of dedicated and passionate women has been a godsend for Maggie, sharing that, “I’m just very fortunate to have like-minded people on my team and we learn from each other everyday.” More than just its signature stylish furniture and decor pieces, their store represents home for the team. Everyone’s willing to help in anything that needs work on. “If I’m on holiday or on leave, [any of them would] know how to do it or you know what needs to be done. They’re all like that, they’re all willing to learn,” Maggie pointing out the collaborative nature of the girls. Superheroes in their own right with Maggie Wilson-Consunji as the visionary behind all of it, she shares her optimism on the future of Casa Consunji, “They’re very excited for the brand. It’s nice to know that they think Casa Consunji has a lot of potential and I’m very fortunate to have them–very, very fortunate.”
Casa Consunji is located at Unit 8-10 Acacia Town Center, Acacia Estates, Taguig City. For inquiries, contact (0917) 144-6634 or through their website.
Photos from Lifestyle Asia and Casa Consunji.