When bag extraordinaire Amina Aranaz said, “Save the World, One Bag at a time!”, she had given fashionistas carte blanche on her latest environmental project yet that involved Philippine fashion designer Rajo Laurel and a group of resourceful and artistic individuals who all sum up the Rags to Riches (RIIR) team. Composed of volunteer rofessionals from many different fields, which include accountants, professional counselors, events organizers, designers, finance executives, all sharing their expertise for free, they were all instrumental in making the RIIR project in forming a social business enterprise work.

Treet Bag Project by Rajo Laurel

Dubbed by Reese Fernandez, RIIR’s co-founder and EVP, as “upcycling,” the Rags to Riches aims to put more value on the participants’ skills through more salable and high-end products such as a new, eco-friendly bag collection designed by Rajo and Amina and made by the underprivileged women of Payatas.

Years ago, one hears Payatas and immediately associates it with women who lives in squalid surroundings in Payatas, the “rag capital of the Philippines.” Thanks to RIIR, Payatas connotes the pillar of the fashion and social enterprise industry!

Incidentally, RIIR gave ANTHILL FABRIC GALLERY the opportunity to have its first sustainable project for our 15 weavers in Bangued, Abra. This tree bags extends its reach not only to them but also to the R2R Nanays of Payatas (colored braided rug handle), the Woodcarvers of Pardo, Cebu (wooden buttons and rings) and the seamstresses of Minglanilla, Cebu (body assembly).

Anthill Fabric Gallery for RIIR Rajo Lauren Bags

The tree bag project is ANTHILL’s first collaboration with the highly innovative and respected fellow social enterprise, Rags2Riches Inc.

Rags to Riches Rajo Laurel Tree Bag Project

RIIR sees to it that in every tree bag you carry, a tree is planted to fill a watershed project!

RIIR has been an inspiration, a source of positive influence and a social enterprise model to ANTHILL as we move forward in pursuing growth and our cultural preservation advocacies especially among our indigenous communities.

Rags2Riches and the tree bag breathes life to our Indie Workers Trail!

About The Tree Bag Project
You carry an intricately handcrafted bag made from recycled scrap thread rigorously hand loomed in Kantinares pattern by the indigenous women of Bangued, Abra. These women celebrate their Tingguian origin by continuing their living traditions of fabric weaving in the hopes of passing it on to younger generations. Their valued skill is also the source of their sustenance. Despite aching backs and cramped up space, these women choose to work in the bounds of their homes for they are first loving mothers to their children and caring wives to their husbands. They finish an average of 5 meters a day on antique looms while juggling household chores and putting food on the table. Though Tinngians now wear contemporary clothing and live like their neighboring Ilocanos, the core of their social and cultural world retains its indigenous flavor.

The wood craftsmen belonging to a small urban community in Pardo, Cebu City shape these perfect cut wooden rings and hand carved buttons out of native wood. Each letter is carefully chiseled creating that embossed effect with a raw finish. Working with wood have taken these men out of their idle mood in the streets transforming them into responsible fathers aiming to provide better for their families.

About Anthill Fabric Gallery
ANTHILL Fabric Gallery is a socially responsible business where culture meets style. Through our Indie Workers Trail, we advocate the preservation and promotion of weaving traditions in the Philippines, providing indigenous groups, local artists and craftsmen market access that in turn will cultivate heritage and support livelihood. In every purchase, you help sustain a life! Here’s one sustainable totes for the earth-conscious shopper!

Isn’t this fait accompli so heartwarming even Ambassador of Goodwill Angelina Jolie might probably even take heed and get one for herself! R2R merchandise is currently available at HOUSE OF LAUREL 6013 J. Villena cor. Manalac Street, Poblacion, Makati City with Telephone: (02) 426-6101 locals 3440 and 3441; Mobile: 0905-32739999; E-mail: r2rcorp@gmail.com and their website. In Cebu, RIIR is available at Anthill Fabric Gallery. Anthill Fabric Gallery is located in Mariposa St. Gorodo Ave., Cebu City. Tel No| 032.5054175. Email anthillfabricgallery@yahoo.com.

Read more about the launching from Rajo’s BlogLiz’s, R2R president Reese Fernandes  blog, and a feature from Business World here.

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Kristine Roa The Glamarazzi

**Some text by Kristine Roa. Photos by Anthill. Reproduction without consent is not allowed.