AVA Loves Filipino Talent and Design
To celebrate Independence Day, AVA is turning the spotlight on the makers behind your favorite Filipino brands this whole month of June. Be inspired by their stories, tag along on their journeys and take home products made with 100% Filipino love. 
Vicky Panopio

Gabrielle Marie A. Cruz
Tejo Threads Trading


I started this business because…I received a Full Merit Scholarship that would pay for all my years of enrollment in university. Thankful for this blessing, I promised myself that I would find a way to give back. I initially had plans of going into the corporate world for a few years and then eventually starting my own business and when I was "stable" enough, I'd give back somehow. Just like any millennial though, I was impatient. I didn't want to wait all those years. That's when the idea of my social enterprise, Tejo, began. 

Before I started my business, I was…I was a fresh university graduate looking for work that would be a combination of something that would earn me a living, something that I would enjoy and something that would give back. Tejo fit all three criteria. 

What's your favorite part of your job? What I love the most is the empowerment our livelihood program provides our weavers. They're all mothers from underprivileged communities. Just like us, they have many dreams for themselves and their families; they, too, want better. They just don't have as much access to opportunity. Our program is about more than just money. By empowering a mother with livelihood, you empower her children and her family with the hope that hard work and opportunity can uplift them. By empowering a mother, you start ripples of hope that spread within the community.

What are you working on now? Any new exciting projects in the pipeline?
We’re working on a brand extension and introducing new products over the next few months.  We also have exciting collaborations!

What advice would you give to someone considering being an entrepreneur focusing on Pinoy-made products? The Philippines would be very different if we all took on our responsibility to help her. It can be overwhelming to know where to begin; it's important to start small, but dream big. Focusing on Pinoy-made products empowers our local communities that produce them. It also shows our clients that items that are proudly Filipino can compete alongside imported ones.

My favorite...
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Website pinterest.com

Travel destinations Different beaches around the Philippines

Triple Strands 1
Summer Love
Hand-blown Indian Glass 301
Hand-blown Indian Glass 202
Vicky Panopio

Mara Sebastian
Sustainably Made


I started this business because…the Philippines only has approximately 6% of its natural forest cover remaining and is one of the world’s top 10 most threatened forest hotspots With over 120,000 hectares of our country's forest cover lost every year, there may be no forest left in about 40 years.
My two brothers and I, in our own small way, work towards helping ensure a renewable hardwood resource in the Philippines by advocating sustainable tree farming and conscious wood consumption. We are committed to developing sustainable tree plantations that ensure a future where the need for wood is met in harmony with nature. 

Before I started my business, I was…working for a multinational marketing firm here in Manila and in New York for almost a decade.  I did marketing strategy and project implementation for the firm's clients.  My brothers, Mario and Marco, joined the business right after graduating from college with degrees in Management and Environmental Science respectively.  So they really know the ins and outs of managing a tree farm and crafting wooden products.

What's your favorite part of your job? I really enjoy helping man our booths at bazaars, exhibits and trade shows.  I love interacting with buyers of our products because I get to tell them the story behind why and how the wooden products were made.  It's a venue for me to share our advocacy on sustainable wood production and responsible wood consumption.  Plus I get to hear, first hand, their comments, suggestions, and their wooden product wish lists!

What are you working on now? Any new exciting projects in the pipeline?
We are expanding our kitchen, home and gadgets line with rustic kitchen pieces, classy bathroom accessories and unique tech products.  We are also hoping to continue to expand into crafting bigger pieces for the home like rustic furniture and art pieces.  And more importantly, we are continuously working with various cause-driven groups and enterprises to help encourage consumers to be responsible in their purchases—to buy local and sustainably made products.

What advice would you give to someone considering being an entrepreneur focusing on Pinoy-made products? Our people and our country definitely have what it takes to make world-class products and businesses.  We are still starting out ourselves and we keep our vision and mission to heart, to guide us.  So my advice would be to have a really good WHY in creating your product or starting your business because it will fuel you to get through the many challenges on your way to success.  

My favorite...
Restaurant I especially love Milky Way's Halo-Halo!

Book The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl (since my six-year-old son was the lead in his kinder class’s adaptation of the book)
Website Facebook. I get all my leads of relevant news, shopping, social causes from the friends whose opinions I value.
Shop Bazaars, fairs, and trade shows because there's always a lot of beautiful, unique and inexpensive finds.
Clothing Brand Banana Republic (when I get to splurge!  Their shirts and pants fit me so well that I don't even have to try them on.)

Travel destinations The beach—whether here or abroad. I love the beauty and relaxation that being close to nature provides.

Baguette Board
Rustic Branch Candle Holder 
Individual Serving Board
Mobile Phone and Tablet Stand Set
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