“A slow movement and curation of self-care essentials for a sunny life.” That’s how 27-year-old entrepreneur Sunny Tolentino describes her business venture of creating thoughtful artisanal pieces that brighten the home.
It was a few years ago when Sunny decided to carve out this creative path for herself. She discovered the Japanese concept of “ikigai,” referring to one’s sense of purpose and reason for being.
“Ikigai is why you wake up in the morning, what keeps you going, and what you live for. Since then, it has been my lifelong journey to find mine and live by it,” Sunny shares with WhenInManila.com.
“After doing a lot of inner work in order to figure out what truly matters to me, the answer always points back to my insatiable passion for consciously creating things and finding beauty in the mundane.”
She then started Sunny Label initially selling scented soy candles with handpainted jars that depict landscapes and seascapes. As her reach began to grow through the years, she proceeded to branch out to more items, such as homebrewed kombucha, handmade dried flower wreaths, and now, preserved flower earrings.
“I’ve always loved flowers. I grew up seeing my lolas grow and decorate every corner and every tabletop of the house with flowers in different forms and colors. My mom also does floral styling for weddings so I guess, you could say that it runs in the blood. And so, when I moved out and started living on my own, I carried that with me,” she states.
“I grow flowers, both edible and decorative, in my balcony garden and I also get myself flowers every weekend from the market. But I’ve always been wondering how I could keep their beauty since it’s really sad when they wither and die. I’ve actually tried a lot of flower art prior to the earrings, I’ve tried making handmade paper with flowers, mandala flower art, and dried flower wreaths. I even add edible flowers to dishes I cook and desserts I bake. It wasn’t until recently and after lots of research that I got confidence in trying to preserve them. It was a very tedious process and lots of trial and error as the flower petals are very fragile, but I must say, it’s really worth it.”
She explains the process of choosing what flowers to use for her delicate pieces simply as a task of looking around and “basking in the beauty” of her surroundings, as well as using what’s available in her garden. She stresses that her earrings are made in limited quantities only, as she has to wait months for the flowers to bloom again instead of purchasing new ones every time.
“It’s a grounding process because I have to follow nature’s rhythm and stay in line with the season. Everything really is slow-made,” she says.
She also makes sure that whatever material she uses in her creations is all-natural and responsibly sourced. “Since this brand is an extension of my values, I try to be very intentional with my choices every step of the way—from where I get the pots to the paint I use. No questionable ingredients, harmful materials, and unnecessary plastic packaging. All my materials are locally and carefully sourced to make sure that they’re good for you, for local livelihood, and for the environment.”
At the moment, Sunny is preserving new types of flowers for future earring designs and is making plans to create even more jewelry—necklace pendants and rings, to be more precise.
Sunny is definitely among the prime examples of how determination, passion, and commitment are the key ingredients to a successful small creative business, that no matter what your age or background is, anything is possible when you do it with love and enjoyment.
“I’m very lucky that the things I create resonate with some people, and they really take the time to share with me how much they’ve loved my products. My favorite [feedback] so far would probably be this — ‘It made me feel so warm that it’s handmade, and I appreciate the consistent non-plastic packaging and the letter inside. So happy to have found this eco-conscious brand’,” she adds.
“It all starts with a simple idea. I deeply believe that as long as there is genuine interest and enthusiasm, everything else will follow through. So keep on creating!”
All photos supplied by Sunny Tolentino
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