StyleStyle/Travel Diaries

Amanda LuYm, Cacay Moras create new pandemic normal—with communities

Disenyo del Sur taps into the design and resource wealth of the Visayas

Two-tone blush blankets handwoven by Cebu’s habloneras following the herringbone pattern

Buildable fine flower top earrings by All That Glitters

Amanda LuYm and Cacay Moras, founders of jewelry brand All That Glitters (ATG), were already migrating their business online, but the events of 2020 pushed plans to take shape sooner.

“We were only halfway through building a site, and we wanted to continue, but we were in a quandary on how to do it,” Amanda recalls. “Most important, how to do it in a meaningful fashion?”

The answer lay in their DNA for creating beautiful things that had a positive impact on communities. “I also kept seeing how women leaders were successfully handling the COVID crisis around the world, and how they were getting this right.”

In their hometown of Cebu, makers, suppliers, exporters and manufacturers were dealing with the effects of nationwide closures. Contracts and orders were being cancelled. Production was came to an indefinite halt. Although not too keen on lockdown woes, both founders admit that this, too, helped hasten their venture into the digital sphere. This led to them to connect with like-minded, women-led lifestyle brands in the Visayas.

It was this spirit of innovation, resilience and creativity amid the pandemic that birthed a conscious lifestyle online platform, Disenyo del Sur. “We are not just about collaborations,” clarifies Amanda. The online platform is anchored on a distinct and ever-evolving retail ecosystem where partners can contribute in countless ways. “Some of our partners are suppliers for raw materials,” says Amanda. “We also work with other makers who offer design or manufacturing expertise. Sometimes, we turn to each other for leads in terms of sourcing.

The platform’s mother brand, ATG, headlines the product mix for Disenyo del Sur. Their jewelry ‘buildable” collection will be the brand’s opening salvo as it presents an intelligent and fresh approach to dressing in the new normal.

In a year of functional, conscious, and practical fashion, accessories from ATG inspire creativity, allowing wearers to experiment with countless ways of wearing jewelry. Amanda expounds: “The idea of buildable was always part of our story. We had the tops and drops in our mix-and-match pieces, but wanted something airier and more lyrical. So, I played with the idea of ovoids and elliptical shapes.”

Buildable pieces can easily go from simple to statement by simply adding or removing attachments. “I felt that it was time for something completely different visually. The challenge was to create something light, airy, and playful with many more options. With Bubble Theory, you can create up to eight looks.”

Dead stock from cancelled orders inspired the duo to create new style staples relevant to the times. This saw the birth of a new in-house brand, Padayon. Pieces from the brand highlight the beauty of hand weaves by a women’s coop in Argao, Hablon sa Cebu. It was Holicow’s Debbie Palao who connected the Disenyo del Sur founders with the weaving community located south of Cebu.

Pieces from the brand highlight the beauty of hand weaves by a women’s coop in Argao, Hablon sa Cebu

Padayon’s first few pieces will feature modern malong in black using deadstock fabrics. By January, more patterns and color ways will be launched on the site, this time using weaves made specifically for the platform. Amanda says, “Debbie consulted on the house-graduated striped malong. These are specially woven for us and in limited quantities.”

Creations from the brand reimagine timeless classics like the malong, sling bag, or shopper bag into beautiful contemporary pieces for a conscious lifestyle. The multifunctional nature of each piece informs the brand’s design direction. In the same way that the malong may be utilized in various ways, other items like the sling bag or box bag also offer versatility in terms of design and use. “We were already playing with the idea of woven products before COVID, but no real end product was in view. The pandemic pushed that evolution forward.”

Cacay, who had embraced planting, also thought to develop a design driven brand called Potheads. The idea was to create striking plant holders and hangers, unlike those usually found in plant shops. “I was constantly searching online for hangers and holders. What I found was a lot of the same thing. So I asked Amanda to design some for me, and it took off from there,” recalls Cacay. The same brand of refinement and elegance used for jewelry design was applied in the design development of Pothead’s pieces. The idea, says Amanda, was to showcase beloved flora and fauna as precious gems in the context of mid-century design. “I wanted to get the plants in the air, so to speak. I wanted them closer to eye level.”

Cacay and Amanda also decided it was finally time to share a well-kept beauty secret, now known as Blank Canvas Beauty Oil. This unique, proprietary blend of premium essential oils was initially created by Cacay for family and friends. The beauty oil is ideal for self-care regimens like face massages using a face roller, gua sha, or fingers. “I was really a fan, and I felt that if we were serious as an e-commerce site, we needed a great self-care product. It was just perfect that the family had this little potion that could do a lot so it was the perfect thing to share,” says Amanda. The beauty oil, just like the other items on the platform, are made in small batches and versatile in its many uses. It is formulated using sustainably sourced grape seed oil, apricot kernel oil, geranium, lavender, tea tree, clary sage and frankincense.

The Disenyo del Sur team also sought to collaborate with other like-minded, female-run partner brands to create exclusive lifestyle products suited for life in the new world order. Cheeky Chic is a one-stop-shop gifting company trusted by the discerning Cebuano market. Its team, led by founder Patricia Mancao-Canton, worked closely with Disenyo del Sur to create utilitarian bag and mask organizers. Elevating the typical design and make of bag organizers, the Essentials Bag Editor is conceived to be “the workhorse you never knew you needed.” Using premium, heavy-duty fabrics and zippers, compartments are thoughtfully configured and sized to accommodate everyday items like wallets, pens and pencils, eyewear, sanitizer bottles, and even smart tablets.

The Essentials Bag Editor is conceived to be ‘the workhorse you never knew you needed’

The Bag Editor also allows users to move a compact work-from-home module around. It even comes with a PVC pouch that may be used to carry loose bills and coins. During its conception, makers thought to add this element for storing a face mask and soft face shield. In raising the standard for bag organizers, Cheeky Chic and Disenyo del Sur had the idea to create bag accessories that were on par with designer handbags or totes.

The Mask Master can store up to eight masks, and has been a bestseller for the brand. Premium materials were selected to offer a more stylish and sustainable alternative to unsightly plastic pouches or single-use paper bags for storing face masks. Amanda explains, “We used net divisions to make the pouch lighter. The exterior fabric print also makes it more distinct and attractive.” Apart from masks, these chic and handy organizers can also be used as pouches for jewelry and other travel essentials.

Soapjam, a brand that has carved out a niche for elevating the bath experience, has also partnered with Disenyo del Sur in the creation of a special soap set. Bars are made in small batches using the cold process method. A blend of olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and fresh whole milk yogurt make Soapjam a bubbly, hydrating, and nourishing bath treat. For the platform, Soapjam created three unique blends, formulated and hand beveled into remarkably intricate bath treats. The bars are, in themselves, beautiful works of art that make for the most welcome addition to the bath time ritual.

There are more exclusive collaborations and co-created collections in the pipeline for Disenyo del Sur. With the platform going live just in time for the Holidays, founders hope to bring consumers a step closer to making conscious living part of the new normal.

To find out more and for regular updates, follow us at @disenyodelsur. Website is launching soon: www.disenyodelsur.com.


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