Articles worth reading

Metro News

FedEx delivers the threads that keep culture alive 

account_balanceMetro News account_circleSarah Lim chat_bubble_outline0 Comments

Meet the social enterprise that helped blaze a trail for the Philippines' indigenous textiles movement.

The social enterprise that’s today responsible for reviving the indigenous textile industry in the Philippines all but started from a young girl’s childhood dream.

Anya Lim, the visionary behind ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, was raised by culturally proud Filipino parents who owned a textile business. Anya grew up with bedtime stories about heroes from indigenous groups in the Philippines. Family vacations comprised of visits to local communities and weaving villages. 

Advertisement

Many might know ANTHILL as a fashion brand. But at its core, ANTHILL, which stands for Alternative Nest and Trading/ Training Hub for Indigenous/Ingenious Little Livelihood seekers, is a social enterprise that promotes Filipino culture through contemporary design. 

Inspired by childhood memories

Anya’s inspiration to start ANTHILL was sparked when she returned to a village in Banaue – mostly known for the rice terraces - in the Philippines which had turned into a ghost town, devoid of “weaving, carving, and celebration of local culture” that she had enjoyed as a child.

During ANTHILL’s beginnings, local weavers were given little to no mainstream recognition. Traditional patterns were mainly used for furniture and household products. The fate of weaving was uncertain as younger generations were unwilling to inherit the craft.

Anya wanted to make sure that ANTHILL would have enough supply before creating the demand and launching the business. The first five years of the enterprise’s operations focused on capacity building. They ensured that their community partners were ready for business. They provided leadership and financial literacy skills training, with the end goal of making the weavers self-reliant.

From baby steps to leading advocacy for fabric culture and art

ANTHILL's first big break came in the form of a partnership with an established local cafe chain where they were tapped to dress their baristas and provide textiles for furniture upholstery. They were featured in the establishment's merchandise section for social enterprises. “This allowed us to grow our visibility in communities like Abra, and gave us credibility,” Anya shares.

Since ANTHILL started, Filipino traditional weaving has made a resurgence. 

What was once a dying art has been revived by designers and entrepreneurs. 

These vibrant patterns are incorporated into apparel, home decor, and other items admired and desired around the world. Today, these products play a key part in Philippine exports with the fashion industry's demand for natural fabrics.

Today, ANTHILL’s biggest market is its global customers, making up between 80-90% of sales. Many of these clients, Anya says, are Filipinos living abroad who wish to connect to their roots and wear their identities.

To fulfill the growing demand from around the world, ANTHILL began working with FedEx in 2017. "FedEx has provided tremendous support in our global expansion," Anya says. "Without them, we will not be able to serve our international customers."

ANTHILL has struck up partnerships with businesses in Europe, the United States, Hong Kong, and Japan. To better serve them at lower costs, Anya and her team worked with FedEx to consolidate international shipments. "We crunched the numbers and came up with the costs and average rates that will fall within different locations and weight categories. This way, it's a win-win; our clients pay less on shipping, without affecting our bottom line."

Rethreading the Loom amid COVID-19

2020 was set to be a promising year for ANTHILL. The social enterprise had booked several popups in Manila and trade shows in the US, and was all set with procurement and production. When the pandemic ripped through the global economy, Anya and her team had to find other ways to support their partner communities.

“First, we decentralized the supply chain, so that everyone can work from home. We were committed to prioritizing people over profit, and we made sure nobody was laid off,” she shared. “We cut down our revenue channels. From four revenue channels, we went down to two. We used to do uniforms for hotels and schools, but that side of the business stopped. Our face masks and our online channel became the bloodline of our business. We were also left with a lot of fabric because of the canceled events, so we started selling them online as well.”

The majority of ANTHILL orders during the pandemic have been bulk purchases of masks to US clients, who then proceed to resell them in their respective stores.

ANTHILL remains determined to continue advocating for Philippine indigenous textiles and local culture. Adapting to the pandemic, they are focused on developing products relevant to the times and serving communities.

“Aside from masks, we’re also looking at home essentials, room-to-zoom blouses for those who work from home, and Christmas decor,” shares Lim. “We're are eager to collaborate with brands and designers abroad who will have the demand for our fabrics.”

As ANTHILL bravely faces the future and the world at large, FedEx is proud to support them in their mission of keeping indigenous Filipino culture alive.

Learn more about ANTHILL Fabric Gallery on their website.

Visit FedEx Express Philippines to discover more ways to grow your business globally.


date_rangeDate Published
10 months ago
shareShare article
folder_openArticle tags
content_copyCategorized under

Share your thoughts with us

Related Articles

DOH confirms 18,937 new Covid cases on Sept. 20

account_balanceMetro Manila chrome_reader_mode3 days ago

With 20,171 new recovered cases reported on Monday, the overall tally of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) recoveries nationwide rose to 2,171,832,  according to a report by Philippine News Agency. According to the Department of Health (DOH),...

Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso throws his hat into the 2022 presidential race, with Dr. Willie Ong as his running mate. Moreno made the formal announcement on Wednesday (Sept. 22, 2021) at the Baseco Housing project of the City of Manila. (Photo courtesy of Manila PIO)

Isko announces bid to be 'healing president'

account_balanceMetro Manila chrome_reader_mode1 day ago

Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso formally announced on Wednesday his bid for the presidency in the 2022 national elections with Dr. Willie Ong as his running mate under the Aksyon Demokratiko party, according to a report b...

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez

PH pursues innovation programs

account_balanceMetro Manila chrome_reader_mode2 days ago

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Tuesday the government will continue its programs and introduce policies to drive innovation in the country, according to a report by Philippine News Agency. In a virtual presser o...

Photo courtesy of TPB Philippines

Hybrid world tourism summit to be held in PH

account_balanceMetro Manila chrome_reader_mode1 day ago

The Philippines is set to host the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in March 2022, the Department of Tourism (DOT) official said in a report by Philippine News Agency. The event was supposed to be held in the Philippines ...

Let's Stay Connected Like us on our Facebook page.
×
Click on the article to continue reading
Quezon City adopts no contact apprehension system Red Cross pushes saliva test Vaccines from COVAX to arrive in Q1 Makati Shangri-La to close doors on Feb. 1 Cities in NCR to start vaccination simultaneously Mother, girlfriend of Filipino infected with UK variant also test positive Send Press Release MNC Facebook Page MNC Twitter Page MNC Instagram Page LGU Spotlight Barangay Front Business Sports Entertainment Metro Gen Metro Feature