Muni on this:
What if you could help preserve your country’s traditions while getting your work as a designer out there?
Vesti’s Martha Rodriguez does just this with her designer ladies’ bags, the designs of which are elevated by the rich Mindanaoan weaving traditions that yield Yakan or Tinalak textiles. When you meet with Martha, you know you’re talking to someone who is truly passionate about preserving our country’s indigenous textiles; someone who knows her convictions and stands by them.
Muni: Who comprises your team and what inspired you to create Vesti?
Martha: Vesti is managed by me; it’s a one-woman team. It was a collective inspiration, I really wanted to create a better Mindanao and tell the world that I’m from Mindanao so why not start promoting Mindanao materials, plus there is a need to push and promote handwoven indigenous fabrics from Mindanao. I want to take pride what is uniquely Mindanao.
Muni: What background prepared you to handle Vesti?
Martha: In terms of design and fabrics, I give credit to my professors from college and with my course in Clothing Technology. For hands on selling and merchandising, I gained experience through my work in various fashion retail companies.
Muni: What keeps you motivated to work on your Vesti?
Martha: Vesti is my baby, this is one relationship I want to prioritize. I think what really drives me is the happiness I get from sketching and putting into good use the designs I have. It’s very fulfilling and at the same time challenging to put Vesti up in the market. My family and friends motivate me.
Muni: Why are you where you are now?
Martha: I guess I’m always the wanderer-traveler, I want new things to experience and new people to meet. I trust my instincts and take risks. I believe in my brand and the message I want to deliver. I want to inspire people to start their own businesses using local materials.
Muni: What change do you want to see in the world?
Martha: A brighter Mindanao and for the youth to take full responsibility in nation-building in any way possible. Be active, speak up and have a do-it-for-your-country attitude. I also want to encourage everyone to make an avenue for all the Mindanao brands and get people to notice Mindanao products. Start small and start now.
Muni: What do you wish people were more conscious/aware about?
Martha: I wish people are aware that Mindanao is an island of beauty brimming with magnificent cities. Travel around Mindanao, meet the weavers, eat our local food, appreciate and buy what is really ours. Yes, Mindanao must be celebrated.
It hasn’t been a walk in the park for Martha, starting up a business on her own, reaching the tribe for her materials, and explaining to customers that locally-made does not necessarily mean cheap (like mass-produced China goods), especially when so much time and effort is given to creating the textile and designing the product. But with a supportive family, the empowerment of being her own boss, and the drive to share what she loves to others, Martha soldiers on, encouraging more and more people to rediscover Mindanao and our indigenous textiles every step of the way.