Muni on this:
What if your could turn pests into profit?
This is exactly what the innovative brand Jacinto & Lirio achieved in creating their plant-based leather goods (bags and journals) from water hyacinth and lily, some of the Philippines’ most invasive aquatic plant pests, which hasten many devastating floods, especially in the surrounding towns of Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines.
For this interview, we chat with the super nice and friendly Noreen Bautista, one of the co-founders of Jacinto & Lirio. Yes, we know the words nice and friendly are painfully generic terms, but if there’s someone who is truly a shining epitome of niceness, it’s got to be Noreen. Read on and see for yourself!
Muni: What inspired you to create Jacinto & Lirio?
Noreen: We thought of using Philippine indigenous materials, because our country has so much abundant natural resources, but the potential hasn’t been fully tapped yet. That idea led us to Laguna, where we met communities working on the water hyacinth plant. Because of its over-proliferation, the government and private sector came up with programs to control the growth, and some of those programs involved livelihood projects that turned the water hyacinth stalks into woven products.
But what really caught our eye was a community-based innovation that made the stalks of the plant look like leather. We were not the ones who invented the water hyacinth leather material but it was local artists who thought of a way to use the plant’s stalks. We instantly fell in love with the concept and saw the potential for it in the fashion market because of its sleek and shiny look, its versatility for color, and the genuine innovativeness that it had.
Muni: What keeps you motivated to work on Jacinto & Lirio?
Noreen: The vision of using this as a vehicle to channel our God-given talents and work on our passion to make a difference in society. Currently, Jacinto & Lirio is run by co-founders Anne Krystle Mariposa and Noreen Marian Bautista. Anne is passionate about fashion having grown up in the industry, and has a distinct sense of style. While Noreen is an advocate of social enterprise or the ability of business to create positive social impact.
Muni: Why are you where you are now?
Noreen: We could have ended Jacinto & Lirio right when we got the diploma after college and marched off to the real world. But we didn’t. I think it is this persistence that made us reap opportunities we never thought we would get and made Jacinto & Lirio alive as it is now.
Muni: What drives you to get up in the morning?
Noreen: I ask what story can we create today? What work does God want us to do? if anything, it is another opportunity to live the gift of life that was given to you — that fuels us to live the day fully.
Muni: What change do you want to see in the world?
Noreen: The rise of competitiveness of Philippine indigenous materials in the fashion and design industry. The surge of global Filipino brands delighting the world with their creativity and quality. A world where businesses are responsible stewards of society’s resources and are instruments of positive social change.
Muni: What do you wish people were more conscious/aware about?
Noreen: The talent and creativity of Philippine communities, and the potential of our indigenous materials to wow the global style world!
What started as a college thesis for the 5 co-founders sharing an entrepreneurship class, turned into a business that many of today’s aspiring social entrepreneurs can turn to as a model business for their use of unwanted materials and contribution to community development. Jacinto & Lirio is out to set a new standard for how business should be done in our country, and we’re confident that they’ll continue finding more and more ways to make their products more environmentally sustainable while further assisting in the progress of the communities they support.
Check out interviews from our other Pop-Up Shop co-presenters!