Mia Villanueva's Work With Grassroot Women Groups

HABI president Mia Villanueva is determined to uphold the enterprising spirit while fostering imaginative thinking.

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s September 2023 Issue.

Growing up in a home where one takes part in a lot of giving and sharing is definitely a life filled with blessings. Coming from a family who unconditionally engages in philanthropic activities, has honed the character, values, and good person of service that is Mia Villanueva.

At a very early age she was already exposed to these random acts of kindness. “It’s from my mother, she was into a lot of charities, we were always doing these things like helping people. What I saw during her time was more like a dole out or soup kitchen,” Villanueva says. But for her, this concept of giving needs to have another facet or perspective of having more value. She adds, “It’s always how can you help, what can you do? But it has to be something you enjoy also or else it’s not going to be sustainable.”

READ ALSO: Intentionality and Serendipity: How A Local Brand Blossomed Into A Sustainable And Empowering Venture

The Woman Of Now

15 years ago, this market girl (who has a fondness for palengke shopping and bayong basket handicrafts) created her passion-driven accessories brand called MCV Designs which is her playground in creating pieces using the extensive materials and weaves of the Philippines. 

Mia Villanueva, the president of HABI
Mia Villanueva, the president of HABI/Top by Filip + Inna, clutch by MCV Designs

This woman of now is no newbie in the world of trade and fashion. For more than a decade she has been a managing committee member of the immortalized Salcedo Community Market, been a board member of Hands On Manila (a foundation that focuses on volunteerism) for a term conceptualized and operated Museu boutique (a retail brand in the early 90s located at the now extinct Greenbelt Shopping Plaza), and eight years of extensive experience in finance and corporate banking.

The Big Dream Of Sustainability

In 2016, this business savvy retailer who’s a wife, mother of two adults, two dogs, and a rescue kitten entered HABI (The Philippine Textile Council) as a vendor. This jump started a journey which began from becoming a volunteer, to a member, to board member, and to head of vendors in 2018-2019 and 2022.

Mia Villanueva HABI president
Mia is wearing an Ikat Print Shopper by MCV Designs and Mosaic Sandals from Aishe Fashion in Laguna, made from hand woven fabrics from all over the Philippines, hand-stitched and ethically created, providing jobs for the deaf community.

Today she is the president of this globally renowned and well-respected platform who champions local textiles, weavers, preservation of culture, and traditions–and the list is endless. But for Villanueva, education is top priority for HABI to know who we are, our weaves through our books, films, and talks. “Our bazaar cannot be just another bazaar. It can’t be just a selling thing. We have to make it a destination. Yes, you can buy and sell because it’s fundraising but there’s another aspect to it where you can learn about it,” Villanueva says.

Mia Villanueva HABI president
Binakol Vest by MCV Designs, handwoven in Abra

The country is a rich landscape of patterns, colors, and history that can be made modern through well supported research, relevant innovation, and contemporary designs. She says, “Everybody has to work. It’s not a free ride, by ‘helping-helping.’ You really have to earn your keep.”

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia September 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.




Shoot Coordination MAE TALAID


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