This cover story was originally written by Gelo Dionora for Lifestyle Asia’s August 2019 Edition titled, “The Essence of Beauty.”

The Bisaya term for “kindness”, Kaayo tells the culture of Mindanao. The fashion line’s founder Marga Nograles desires to promote Filipino creativity through the vibrant pieces the brand creates. Kaayo does not simply produce a new line of style pieces; it also tells the beautiful and diverse narrative of Mindanao where Marga grew up.

T’boli hand-beaded neoprene jumpsuit comes in Olive and Black. (Photograph from Kaayo’s Instagram)
Hand-beaded T’boli jacket. (Photograph from Kaayo’s Instagram)

Connecting with local artisans

The story of Kaayo began with Marga’s culture and desire to help. “I will always say this–I started because this is my culture. I’m a Davaoeña, I’m from Mindanao. So that is my core, my heritage,” she says. The fashion line started with T’boli jackets from Elena, Marga’s longtime family friend. From the beautiful creations of Elena sprang the idea to promote the artistry and culture of Mindanao.

To replicate Marga’s business model, her mother Mary Ann Montemayor helped out. She connected Marga with local artisans through her work in Mindanao tourism and volunteering for indigenous communities. The mother also advised the daughter to keep good relations with the tribes. This includes not mixing various Mindanaoan beadwork and patterns together. Marga shares, “[My mother] would say, ‘Ok, when you start working with the Ata Manobos, you have to research them first, learn who they are.” Connecting with local artisans certainly helps Marga to understand their culture and interpret it in Kaayo‘s style pieces.

Read the full story of Marga Nograles in Lifestyle Asia’s August 2019 Edition, titled “The Essence of Beauty.” Download your digital copy on Magzter, Flip 100, Zinio, or Press Reader. Available in National Bookstore nationwide on August 3. You can also purchase your print copy on Lazada or Shopee. For orders, email [email protected]