Poised with purpose

Fashion accessories and beauty products for a cause.

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca


A lot of shoppers usually look for pretty things when it comes to fashion accessories. Similarly, those who love shopping for beauty products are very selective of their choices. However, what many still don’t know is that there are a lot of good-quality items out there that are being sold not just for profit, but to uplift the lives of people in need.

Habi ( is a socially responsible brand that sells handbags and fashion accessories handmade by Filipino artisans using sustainably-sourced natural materials. Each item produced helps families who have a hard time making ends meet. This is made possible through Habi’s fair trade partnerships with micro-businesses, cooperatives and women’s groups.

The brand’s advocacy is to make sure families earn income all year round while working from home. It also aims to preserve and promote the traditional crafts of different Philippine regions such as weaving, dyeing, metalworking and carving.

Virlanie Social Project ( or VSP is one of the initiatives of Virlanie Foundation, a non-governmental organization that reaches out to children in need of special protection. VSP was created to help the foundation’s beneficiaries reintegrate into society by equipping them with values of honest work and handling finances.

Virlanie’s young adults produce T-shirts and coconut jewelry. In time, they also get to be involved in the sales and distribution of their products. The project also sells T-shirts hand-painted by children as well as paper bead jewelry and bags by mothers from the streets of Divisoria and those who come to the Open Day Center where they have access to food, shelter, books for their children, and sewing machines.

Crafts for a Cause by Kultura Filipino ( is a program that gives back to communities while putting the heart into retailing through the sale of products from livelihood projects from non-profit organizations. The products are made by underprivileged Filipinos who were trained by various foundations via livelihood programs aimed at enriching lives and making them self-sufficient.

Some of the available items from Kultura Filipino are accessories by the sea-dwelling Samal Bajau tribe of Basilan through the Claret Samal Foundation; Ifugao-inspired accessories and trinkets made through livelihood programs by Cordnet in the Cordillera region; wristlets and coin purses made from tetra packs, and rosaries made from recycled magazines from Gawad Kalinga; and stylish bags also made from tetra packs by Baseco, Tondo residents through Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran.

At Crafts for a Cause, you can also find bags made out of old telephone directories and newspapers crafted by street children and women assisted by the Gifts and Graces Trade Fair Foundation and the Kabisig ng Kalahi Foundation; bags made from soda cans’ tab rings by poor families in Smokey Mountain, Tondo through the livelihood programs of the Philippine Christian Foundation; resin jewelry with butterfly accents by the butterfly farmers of Boac, Marinduque through Isla de Bila Bila; macramé bags by the women of San Andres Bukid, Manila through the Kaibigan Ermita Outreach Foundation; and wooden bead jewelry from the Holy Family Home Foundation’s livelihood programs.

RAGS2RICHES ( or R2R is a social enterprise that creates eco-ethical fashion accessories from upcycled scrap cloth, organic materials, and indigenous fabrics. The products are made by women from poor communities across the Philippines.

The brand’s goal is to provide these women fair access to the market. They are also given skills-based, financial and health training to help maximize their potentials and empower them towards long-term financial and personal well-being.

R2R has partnered with well-known designers, and according to one of its founders, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, R2R works by paying community members the labor cost, “Whether we sell the product or not, their labor costs are sure.” Since R2R’s birth in 2007, it has already helped hundreds of women and their communities.

And how about bath and beauty products? Ysabel’s Daughter ( and Leyende ( some of the featured brands with a cause. Read about them in the October issue of HealthToday.

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