LOOK: This couple started a clothing brand during ECQ

Photo from Masanting Sasteria on IG

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous challenges to different businesses. For others, they see the pandemic to get more creative and venture out to different ideas. Meet mompreneur Carin Aguas. Together with her husband, Mark Aguas, they founded the local brand, Masanting Sasteria. In ECQ, the couple started their new project, Studio Sampaguita.

According to Carin, Studio Sampaguita is their humble approach to casual tailoring and is the next step in Masanting Sasteria’s sartorial journey. I was able to interview Carin and Mark to ask them about their journey in fashion and how they came up with Studio Sampaguita.

Starting off, Mark shared that while growing up, he and Carin had loving parents who taught them to dress up properly. With a background in finance, Mark’s mom always told him to dress up for the job that you want and to show respect to other people whenever he would go to work. This eventually manifested in their love for creating garments. Now in their 12th year in the tailoring business, the couple said that they love how they are able to create things with different types of fabrics.

Studio Sampaguita is the couple’s way of bringing luxury into a more relaxed and casual environment. They incorporate the use of the Sampaguita because it’s the national flower and it’s fresh. Mark explained that the concept of the Sampaguita is the same for their clothes wherein the Sampaguita is a complex flower, but looks simple from afar.

The photoshoots for Studio Sampaguita were all impressively done all from the couple’s home. From using bedsheets to double-sided tape, the couple had to be creative and resourceful to create a studio inside their house.

However, the quarantine also posed some obstacles for the couple. For example, they have two kids who always run around while they shoot. They also find it challenging how they are confined in a space compared to before when they could travel. It’s now a challenge to fully communicate the story and to talk to clients now that everything’s done virtually.

The couple also shared that they always value quality over quantity. Even with the COVID crisis, the couple said that they believe that one should never sacrifice beauty. Mark shared how that growing up in a Kapampangan household, he was used to entertaining people and not knowing if they were going to have visitors that day. This taught him to always be prepared, which is reflective of their brand right now. It’s the couple’s own take in how we should be prepared outside.

When talking to clients nowadays, they try to humanize their experience by first asking how they are coping with the pandemic and how their businesses are doing. They are transparent with their clients about their current struggles, too. However, it doesn’t mean that they should forgo things that are important in life, like taking care of yourself.

Moving forward, Studio Sampaguita features products with the Binakol weave from Abra weavers. Carin shared that they liked the psychedelic patterns and geometric shapes that are used in the face mask and bags.

The Binakol is also believed to ward off evil spirits in Ilokano culture. Carin said that she believes that this is what we need nowadays since things are down. It’s a reminder of the need to be more human.

Lastly, they hope to translate Filipino culture by showing that Filipinos are capable of the highest quality of products. This is their way of showing that Filipinos are capable of making quality products that aren’t necessarily “costume-y.” The couple is also able to support the tailors and craftsmen with their products.

An example of how they were able to adjust these garments to become more Filipino is through their Manila Shacket. It’s based on the typical safari jacket which is a lot thicker. With the climate in the Philippines, it’s designed to feel like a shirt but composed as a jacket. This further shows how the couple values functionality in their garments.

Carin also shared two other brands. The first brand is called the Sama-Sama project is a social enterprise that whenever you buy a face mask from them, they give another one to an essential worker. The face mask has numbers that come in pairs. This means if you buy a mask that has the number 1 on it, an essential worker will get the same. The second brand is called Happy Scrubs. These are comfortable and pajama-like scrubs for health workers.

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