Since 2008, Mike and Banj Claparols of Creative Definitions have been working to find a growing local market for world-class Negrense products, striving to innovate and open more opportunities for its producers. Almost a decade later, in 2017, they made a major shift by becoming an enviro-social enterprise that partnered with weaving communities on Negros Island. The collaborations aim to achieve long-term sustainability not only for Creative Definitions, but also for the communities. This is do-ble only if certain practices are adopted, such as the use of indigenous natural materials, fair trade practice, and the drive for innovation, while taking into account social and cultural influences.
The first of these partnerships was established in 2017 with the Negros 9 Kabankalan Weavers. Living in a remote area in the mountains of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, the weavers were organized by members of the community in Barangay Sitio Bantolinao, to create a steady source of income and improve the community’s fledgling weaving industry. The community has 14 active weavers.
In 2019, Creative Definitions partnered with a master weaver from a nearby town in Negros Occidental. Helen Managuit of Valladolid comes from a family of weavers and claims that her mother taught her the unique weave patterns never before seen in other weaving communities.
Crossing the mountains in 2019, Creative Definitions partnered with another dynamic group of weavers, this time from Bacong town in Negros Oriental. The Bacong Weavers of Negros Oriental specialize in sinamay weaving using an indigenous abaca variety. Product development is being done to weave fabrics that combine cotton and abaca fibers.
Creative Definitions has found a viable business model in balancing environment, economy, innovation and community development. The social enterprise’s continued search for new materials has led to unique sustainable products made of 100 percent Philippine cotton. It is working with pineapple leaf fibers in the production of the Lakat sustainable sneakers, which it launched in November 2021.
It also plans to develop products made from abaca, banana, bamboo, and sugarcane bagasse.
Lakat sneakers are 100 percent Philippine-made using sustainable materials. The production of each sneaker leaves a positive socio-economic impact on local weavers and farmers in Negros and Mindanao. It also supports the livelihood of those involved in the supply chain, inspiring a new model for a truly sustainable value chain.
Pineapple fibers used in making Lakat shoes are sourced from discarded leaves typically thrown away after the harvest of pineapples. Extraction is made using solar powered energy, which ultimately equates to a lower carbon footprint. The pineapple leaf fibers come mainly from Don Salvador Benedicto in the province of Negros Occidental. The cotton used in the sneakers is mainly sourced from Bayawan, Negros Oriental. The company hopes to set up a yarn processing and textile mill to reduce further the carbon footprint.
Apart from its production methods, the company has also given careful thought to packaging. Using recycled and recyclable fabrics, cartons and scraps, each pair of Lakat sneakers is packed to invite customers on a journey that will leave a positive footprint on the planet, people, and communities.