Pililokal: A New Online Marketplace Empowering Filipino Artisans to Sell Their Crafts

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consequential downturn of the global economy has greatly affected entrepreneurs and small creators. As they struggle to navigate this uncertainty, it becomes all the more vital now to advocate for supporting local goods and local makers who only have this as their means of livelihood.

But there is hope in the industry, all thanks to those who provide opportunities for these artisans to thrive—such Pililokal, a new e-commerce platform for Filipinos made by Filipinos.

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Pililokal, which literally translates to “choose local,” was created by Rizza Villaflor who has worked in the events and marketing industry for nearly four years since launching her first startup back in 2017. As a Communication major who completed her MBA in New York City during the height of the pandemic, Rizza established this one-stop shop of purely Filipino-made brands in her desire to not only uplift the lives of local makers but also to aid them in promoting their products online.

“We started this passion endeavor with the help of family and friends. Through personal relationships, I was able to contact key individuals who will be in charge of several departments that are critical to the website’s development. From the finance stage to the nitty-gritty details, everything is handled by Filipinos with the same goal in mind,” Rizza shared with When In Manila.

Rizza and her team also go the extra mile in taking care of their brand partners by offering their expertise in enhancing the businesses’ marketing strategies and operational efficiency. This ensures the mutual benefit both Pililokal and its pool of vendors get through this partnership.

Now, Pililokal has amassed 44 merchants selling a total of 684 products and is still welcoming many more Filipino entrepreneurs to join its platform. Notable brands include The Bamboo Company, Greenlife Coco, Project Tea 28, Villa Soccoro Farm, Kelly & Co, Jas Soap, Pickles & Poppies, E&J Rattan, Cacaomistry, Chocoloco, Bayani Brew, Nipa Brew, Stitched & Sewn, Ecobar PH, Brik by Brik, and Manang PH, just to name a few.

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A post shared by PiliLokal (@pililokal)

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A post shared by PiliLokal (@pililokal)

“With worldwide competitors and direct competitors, our competitive advantage is to bring our culture to the public. Indeed, capitalism is dictated by consumer choice. However, we see this as an opportunity to educate our customers about our ability and obligation to help in little ways and eventually effect change,” said Rizza.

“This is not a one-step action sequence. Our strength derives from the Filipino community, which strives to overcome life’s challenges. Our merchants’ success stories are real proof that Filipinos are world-class artisans who, given the opportunity, can compete internationally.”

The process of choosing vendors for the e-commerce platform depends on a set minimum criteria. Brands have to be Filipino-owned and products should be made and sold locally, whether handmade or manufactured. Pililokal’s team then assists interested partners regarding onboarding before allowing them free reign to use the store dashboard and enhance their store within the site.

Even with a highly committed team that works remotely in the Philippines and abroad, Rizza admits that it’s still a challenge to determine market viability amid the ongoing pandemic. Being a startup also introduces the struggle of having to attract customers and stand out among similar platforms. But with effective communication and collaboration with its partner brands, as well as the devotion to their mission to help stabilize the local economy, the future seems bright for Pililokal and the Philippine creative industry.

“I believe that by releasing this platform, we will be able to assist in the recovery of the pandemic’s harm and losses,” Rizza added. “The platform, as well as the merchants who support our staff, are the main focus of our work. Without this community, we won’t be able to move forward with our vision. Our goal is to bring together small-to-medium-sized local enterprises so that people may buy Filipino products and assist the micro-economy to grow.”

“Our goal is to bring attention to Filipino artisan/makers on a local, regional, and national level. We want to expose Filipino employees to the free market in a variety of industries, including agriculture, forestry, and fishing, as well as assembly line manufacturing and automation. It may seem impossible to return to our roots, yet it is not impossible.”

If you would like to know more about Pililokal, you can check out their website, https://www.pililokal.com/, and their social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.


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