Behind the sophisticated handmade bags and accessories is an empowering story of talented and skilled mothers
The steady rise of local and homegrown brands in the country poses an exciting time and a promising future for the fashion industry. You may be familiar with ARANÁZ, Beatriz, and Filip+Inna, having reached the international market through major events like the Parish Fashion Week. All these brands have the vision to further push Filipino artistry and indigenous fabrics to the global stage. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the help of their partner local communities across the country. Behind the vibrant clothing with traditional weaves and the exquisite handmade bags, lies the stories of hardworking men and women.
The story of Bondi Studios is no different from these discerning fashion brands. The startup was borne from the friendship of Erica Dee, Sam Tangco, and Robyn See, they began collaborating with a mother in a small village and later on, grew into a group of skilled women. The increasing demand is no surprise as Bondi Studios produces strongly feminine and elaborate designs of statement bags, accessories, and recently, creative vases. Through the brand, these mothers realize their potential, empowering themselves and the lives of the Bondi woman.
The mothers or ‘nanays,’ as what Bondi Studios team refers to these talented women, work on the pieces while tending to their respective households. Co-founder Erica Dee explains, “We think it empowers them to know and understand what they’re actually capable of. We give them the freedom to collaborate with us and give suggestions in making the final product as well.”
Even the mothers affirm how the project proves to be an exceptional experience for them. From managing their own time to take care of their children to doing something they love and earning income, the mothers feel fulfilled working with the brand.
Erica echoes a similar sentiment, sharing how grateful they are for the mothers. She says, “We’ve learned that excellence is not just what they do. Excellence is their virtue, and it shows in the effort they put into delivering quality, and the joy they feel at being able to do what they love.” The work is also an opportunity for the mothers to bond and strengthen friendships among them. They can freely share stories of joy and the struggles of motherhood, another common thread running through these women. While there are presently four mothers on the team, Bondi Studios is open to working with more people. “We love [having] imaginative and hardworking souls with opportunities to showcase their talent,” affirms Erica.
The Power of the Craft
Through the story of Bondi Studios, we can look forward to witnessing the rise of Filipino brands. Yet it can be difficult at the onset as there is an ongoing challenge with the production of original products. Erica explains how local enterprises tend to simply follow trends. “We don’t get to highlight the talent and ingenuity of local Filipino craftsmen,” she expresses.
To face this challenge in the industry of retail and commerce is a difficult feat. Thus, Erica stresses the value of the story and craftsmanship behind the products. “We believe that people are more inclined to support products that are not just aesthetically pleasing and functional,” she says. “The value of a product rises if its market can sense the hard work and intricacy embedded in it.”
After collaborations with labels Undo and Love Laro, we can look forward to more of the sophisticated products of Bondi Studios. Last year, they launched home products like vases in creative forms of female bodies and ribbed textures in muted tones. With the dedication of the mothers and the creative collaboration of the team, we can expect to see the brand reach greater heights, and empower more women in the long run.
Photos from Bondi Studios.