Jacinto and Lirio not only produces creative and thoughtful items for their customers. They also help communities by providing employment and strategically using the water hyacinth. While this seems like the formula, they have faced many challenges along the way, including colonial mentality of some consumers, where local products are then disadvantaged.
An abudance of water hyacinth in one of the communities in Rizal
As a solution to this, they “attempt to make indigenous look “sexy” in the eyes of Filipinos through well-designed products.” There is also a challenge of producing quality and unique products, so they have values alignment with local communities.
Anne Mariposa holding “water hyacinth leather”
Another potential problem are the common misconceptions about what social enterprises are: charity work, project-based, not scalable, and even producers of “awa”-based products. But if you ask Anne to define what a social entrepreneur is, she said, “A social entrepreneur is a person whose main business revolves around solving society’s most pressing social problems via a sustainable and innovative way.”
“Business is a good channel to be able to change the lives of others,” she added.
Jacinto and Lirio offers employment to communities they partner with.
Despite all these challenges, they are not stopping Anne from pursuing her business and her advocacy. “As a designer, I feel most fulfilled whenever I see my designs coming to life. With Jacinto & Lirio, this feeling of fulfilment is escalated whenever I see the financial impact the sale of my designs brings to our community partners. In each J&L item lies a story of connections. From the communities who gather the water hyacinth stalks to the aspiring dreamer who writes his ideas on his functional journal, to the empowered businesswoman who carries her fashionable statement bag, each handcrafted J&L piece is truly a conversation-starter.”
With their new product, their numerous awards, and their many features on print and on websites, Anne is dreaming of bigger things for 2015 and beyond: “To raise the competitiveness of indigenous materials and the communitites that produce them through global design brands and products.”
When in Manila, be sure to check out Jacinto and Lirio, and other social enterprises! You’ll find that the local industry has so much stories and creativity waiting for you to discover.
If you want to find where you could buy their products, this is a list of their retail partners.
All photos used are from Jacinto and Lirio’s Facebook page
Jacinto and Liro