Smart Luxury: This Online Platform Showcases Small-batch Design by Cebuano Women

Disenyo Del Sur, founded by Amanda LuYm and Cacay Moras in the middle of the pandemic, highlights collaborations and creations by Visayan artisans.

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Months in quarantine inspired Amanda LuYm and Cacay Moras, founders of jewelry brand All That Glitters, to get creative. The idea of migrating their business online had already been in the pipeline, but the unprecedented events of 2020 became a catalyst for their plans to take shape sooner.

“We were only halfway through building a site, and we wanted to continue but we were in a quandary for how to do it. Most importantly, how to do it in a meaningful fashion?” LuYm remembers. The answer lay in their DNA for creating beautiful things that made positive impact on communities. “I also kept seeing how women leaders were successfully handling the COVID crisis around the world, and how they were getting this right.” This inspired the two to open up their platform to other female-owned businesses.

This Artemis necklace is from All That Glitters, which is LuYm and Mora’s own buildable jewelry brand.

In their hometown of Cebu, makers, suppliers, exporters and manufacturers were also dealing with the effects of nationwide closures. Contracts and orders were being cancelled left and right. Production was put on indefinite halt. Although not too keen about focusing on the lockdown woes, both founders admit that this, too, helped shape their venture into the digital sphere. This led to them connecting with like-minded, women-led lifestyle brands in the Visayan region.

It was this share spirit for innovation, resilience and creativity amidst the times that birthed Disenyo Del Sur, their conscious lifestyle online platform. “We are not just about collaborations,” LuYm clarifies. The online platform is anchored on a distinct and ever-evolving retail eco system.

In this space, partners can contribute in countless ways. Some of their partners are suppliers for raw materials, and they also work with other makers who offer design or manufacturing expertise. “Sometimes, we turn to each other for leads in terms of sourcing,” the duo explains.

Conscious by design

The platform’s mother brand, All That Glitters, headlines its product mix. Their collection of buildable jewelry will usher in the brand’s opening salvo as it presents an intelligent and fresh approach to dressing in the new normal. In a year that hails functional, conscious and practical fashion, accessories from ATG inspire creativity, allowing wearers to experiment with countless ways of wearing jewelry.

Padayon highlights hand-woven weaves by a women’s coop in Argao, Hablon in Cebu.

“The idea of buildable was always part of our story,” LuYm shares. “We had the tops and drops in our mix and match pieces, but wanted something airier and more lyrical. So, I played with the idea of ovoids and elliptic shapes.”

Dead stock from cancelled orders, meanwhile, led to the creation of a new in-house brand, Padayon.  Pieces from the brand highlight the beauty of hand-woven weaves by a women’s coop in Argao, Hablon sa Cebu. It was Holicow’s Debbie Palao who connected the founders with the weaving community located South of Cebu. “She is Padayon’s Fairy Godmother,” states Amanda.

Creations from the brand reimagine timeless classics like the malong, sling bag or shopper bag into beautiful contemporary pieces that punctuate a conscious lifestyle. Multifunctional nature of each piece informs the brand’s design direction. In the same way that the malongs may be utilized in various ways, other items like the sling bag or box bag also offer versatility in terms of design and use. “We were already playing with the idea of woven products before COVID but no real end product was in view. The pandemic pushed that evolution forward.”

Growth by growing

Mora, who had embraced plant parenting also thought to develop a design driven brand called Potheads. The idea was to create striking plant holders and hangers, unlike those usually found in plant shops. “I was constantly searching online for hangers and holders. What I found was a lot of the same thing. So I asked Amanda to design some for me and it took off from there,” Mora recalls.

Soapjam created a special set that is exclusively available in the platform.

The same brand of refinement and elegance used for jewelry design was applied in the design development of Potheads’ pieces. The idea, LuYm shares, was to showcase beloved flora and fauna as precious gems in the context of mid-century design. “I wanted to get the plants in the air, so to speak. I wanted them closer to eye level,” she adds.

Mora and LuYm also decided it was finally time to share a well-kept beauty secret, now known as Blank Canvas Beauty Oil. This unique, proprietary blend of premium essential oils was initially created by Mora for family and friends. The Beauty Oil is ideal for self care regimens like face massages using a face roller, gua sha or fingers.

The oil, just like the other items on the platform, are made in small batches and versatile in its many uses. It is formulated using sustainably sourced Grape Seed Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Geranium, Lavender, Tea Tree, Clary Sage and Frankincense.

Women empowerment

The Disenyo del Sur team also sought to collaborate with other like-minded, female-run partner brands to create exclusive lifestyle products suited for life in the new world order.

Cheeky Chic is a one-stop-shop gifting company trusted by the discerning Cebuano market. Its team, led by founder Patricia Mancao-Canton, worked closely with Disenyo Del Sur to create utilitarian bag and mask organizers.

These bag organizers are from Cheeky Chic, a gifting company by Patricia Mancao-Canton.

Meanwhile, SoapJam creates bars made in small batches following the cold process method. It has partnered with the platform to create a special soap set. Three unique blends, formulated and hand beveled into remarkably intricate bath treats, are what comprises the set.

There are more exclusive collaborations and co-created collections currently in the pipeline for Disenyo Del Sur. Its founders hope to bring consumers a step closer to making conscious living part of the new normal.

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