Monica Verallo is a well-loved television host of UNTV’s Good Morning Kuya. She loves travelling and
exploring new places, trying out new things, and living a life beyond boundaries.
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Fashion industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world. Who would have thought that a bag could actually sell for as high as Php3 to Php7 million apiece? Only a reputable fashion brand can do that. But in the process of making good trade, some highly important things – and sometimes, even lives – are being sacrificed. Crocodile skin bag, anyone?
This is one of the reasons why Janine Chiong, Paola Savillo, and Bernadee Uy decided to put up a Habi, a footwear brand that promotes responsible fashion.
It was in their senior year in Ateneo De Manila University when the concept of Habi was born. As part of their academic requirements, these ladies made a business plan for a footwear brand that would not only produce quality and fashionable products, but would also be socially and environmentally responsible. A year after making the plan, Janine, Paola, and Bernadee saw the potential of the brand. Thus in 2011, Habi was finally launched.
Since then, its wide range of comfortable espadrilles and sandals compete in the fashion retail industry under Sosyal Revolution, Inc., managed by the three social entrepreneurs.
Habi works in partnership with four communities across Quezon City, members of whom weave mats made out of scrap cloth from shirt factories. The scrap cloth are procured personally by the owners of the company and sent directly to the communities for final assembly into shoes. This process ensures that the weavers earn at least five times what they would normally earn had they gone through some middlemen.
Currently, Habi engages a total of 30 weavers on an output basis, around half of whom get a relatively good amount of income a day with good output. The company is slowly expanding their market by adding new products and being more aggressive in marketing efforts. In the process, the owners are targeting to hire more weavers from more communities in the coming years.
Habi started as a footwear brand hence most of their products are shoes, both for men and women. One of the bestsellers is the espadrilles. One trivia about the espadrilles – the owners were able to procure plane tires (yes, the ones used in airport runways) and used it as soles for the espadrilles. So you can just imagine how durable those soles are! According to one of the owners of Habi, she once used a pair of their espadrilles for hiking and boy it didn’t wear off! Talk about toughness.
But apart from the espadrilles, Habi’s collection of sandals, sneakers, and doll shoes are must-tries.
Simply by looking at the products, it’s not hard to convince oneself to buy a pair. The designs are gorgeous and the fit is superb. But more than the aesthetics, there are several greater reasons why one should patronize Habi—it provides livelihood opportunities to the mothers in the communities and further expands their hard and soft skills through trainings; it helps reduce solid waste in the environment by using scrap cloth in its products; and it promotes a change in lifestyle through responsible fashion, upholding a statement that is both socially aware and environmentally concerned.