Popular fashion designer Rajo Laurel collaborates with Eastwood Mall to create environmental awareness among shoppers.
With the help of Rags 2 Riches Business Enterprise, which is composed of Payatas women, Rajo was able to create Enviro-Chic bags that will be exclusively distributed to at the Eastwood Mall in Quezon city.
Like the previous products of Rajo and Rags 2 Riches, these reusable tote bags were made of recycled materials—canvas fabric, re-used wooden insignias and handwoven straps.
Aside from its fashionable pro-Earth statement, the sales of these Enviro-Chic bags would also help the women of Payatas through Rags 2 Riches and the Philippine National Red Cross—two cause-oriented organizations that are supported by Rajo.
"Sa P600 na bibilhin n'yo, hati pa iyan sa Rags 2 Riches at saka Red Cross. So, dalawang organizations iyong matutulungan natin. Hindi lang Rags 2 Riches, pati na rin Red Cross Rizal Chapter. Kasi I also believe in Red Cross, it's one of my favorite charities. So, for me, hindi lang environmental, hindi lang fashionable, talagang it's for a good cause," said Rajo.
He added that for every bag purchased, one would know the story of the Payatas women. Rajo explained, "Ang maganda nito, iyong istorya talaga, nandiyan. 'Tapos, iyong taong gumawa, nakapirma. Talagang malalaman mo, 'pag binili mo 'to, iyong taong 'to ang gumawa nito, nakatulong kayo sa buhay nila."
FROM RAGS TO RICHES. Rajo recalled how he was tapped to give help to Payatas women.
He narrated, "Rags 2 Riches kasi started a year and a half ago, na lumapit sa akin iyong mga tao sa [Ateneo Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan] na parang tulungan sila. Paano nila mapapaganda iyong trabaho nila. Actually, ang gusto lang naman nila sana, iyong mga trapo ang pagandahin namin. So sabi ko, naisip ko, 'wag na nating gawing trapo, gawin nating mga bags at mga fashion accessories 'yan para tumaas ang value.
"Tapos naisip ko iyong pangalan na 'Rags 2 Riches' kasi nga dati-rati, trapo lang iyan. Pero ngayon naman, tignan mo, kahit sila Tessa Prieto-Valdez, may hawak-hawak na bags na gawa ng mga nanay sa Payatas. Alam mo, nag-umpisa lang kami ng 20 na nanay, ngayon, 400 na ang gumagawa nito. So, lahat ng taong humahawak nito, gumaganda ang buhay."
Rajo said that the women of Payatas have already created a number of bag designs that are "one-of-a kind."
Aside from enriching the lives of the members of Rags 2 Riches, Rajo also helped them make a name abroad by achieving the Social Enterprise Award during the 2008 University of San Francisco International Business Plan Competition. The group was also hailed as the over-all champion at the Business in Development (BiD) Global Challenge in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.