Here in Preview, we’re always on the lookout for Filipino-made brands deserving of a place on our headlines and in your closets, and luckily, we've recently come across one in pursuit of a passionate purpose. This is where Láro comes in. Born from a Filipino word, which means "to play," Láro is a social enterprise of locally made vibrant and fashionable handbags. However, more than the allure of their unique silhouettes, and colorful designs, is the inspiring advocacy their entire brand is rooted on: that is, to fight against human-trafficking. In fact, according to its website, 10% of every purchase from their store is donated to efforts in combtting human-trafficking, not just on a local scale, but globally as well.
Founded by two equally empowering women and their shared desire to create an impact through fashion, Láro’s advocacy holds a personal note to both Nika Diwa and Lea Bodie. “Anti-trafficking is a cause very close to Lea and I's heart because we've both had experiences at a young age with abuse,” Nika reveals to Preview. “Being survivors, it's like we're a family that understands what it looks like to work through the worst kinds of pain and finally find the courage to stand in healing and redemption in the end. We just want to be able to be a voice to those who have not yet found their own voice. For us, it’s personal and an honor to carry this message of empowerment and hope. ”
But that’s not all. The duo also hopes for the brand to highlight the voices and talent of the indigenous artisans that they collaborate with. Their goal? To keep their heritage alive, seen, and appreciated all over the world. “We have individual and intentional relationships with each of our artisans. Not only are we in business together but we are also in a bond of family and friendship together.” Nika tells Preview. “My priority is to keep their stories alive through the specific design blueprint which marks their culture and heritage. Each indigenous tribe is so distinct. We start with their vision and design. My job is then to give feedback based on past selling history and trend forecasting to ensure the bags have the best shot at selling well to the US market.”
Check out our exclusive interview with Nika below to learn more about the brand and how you can help battle human trafficking.
Can you tell us about Laro? What's the concept behind the brand's name?
"Láro is a social enterprise of fashionable handbags made in the Philippines by local artisans. Our mission is to promote a lifestyle brand that empowers women while advocating for underprivileged and marginalized communities around the world, specifically through supporting indigenous artisans and joining the fight against human trafficking. Its name is derived from the Filipino word “laro,” which means to play. We believe that a crucial and beautiful part of healing through pain is reclaiming celebration."
What's the history behind the brand?
"Me and Lea are two strangers-turned-friends who met at a cocktail party, bonding over our shared advocacy in fighting against human trafficking. I had recently left corporate fashion in New York City to develop my own personal speaking, consulting, and styling brand. Lea transitioned from her fashion career in public relations into non-profit event fundraising in collaboration with a variety of causes. Over time, the friendship grew over double dates with our husbands, swapping style tips, but most of all, our passion for empowering women.
"A year later and Láro is our answered prayer in combining their love for fashion with their deep desire to impact positive change on a global scale. Through our brand, we seek to step in the gap for underprivileged and marginalized communities without a voice; specifically in supporting indigenous artisans of developing countries and championing for the cause against human trafficking."
Is there a signature design or key element evident through your designs?
"The key element found in our handbags is the rich heritage and legacy of the Philippines which is showcased through traditional signature techniques of weaving, embroidery, and beadwork from various indigenous groups of the country."
Can you take us through the creative process of designing and creating your bags?
"First, it starts with the relationships. We have individual and intentional relationships with each of our artisans. Not only are we in business together but we are also in a bond of family and friendship together. My priority is to keep their stories alive through the specific design blueprint which marks their culture and heritage. Each indigenous tribe is so distinct. We start with their vision and design. My job is then to give feedback based on past selling history and trend forecasting to ensure the bags have the best shot at selling well to the US market."
Where do you source your materials from?
"The materials are sourced by our artisans locally. We have artisans from different regions of the Philippines, including Ifugao, Abra, Manila, Laguna, Bicol, and Cebu."
How do you connect with local artisans? What’s the process like in collaborating with them?
"All the collaborations with our artisans are relationally based first and foremost. We start by building a friendship with our artisans which later turns into a trusted business relationship. Our deep desire it to set them up for success. We equip them with all the tools and resources in business strategy, helping them meet their desired needs to make a quality, sustainable living for their families."
Could you describe the lifestyle that fits your designs?
"It's for every girl. We believe that style, just like women, change. No one ever stays the same with their style. We're like chameleons. We're changing, learning, growing. There are designs literally for every woman. From classic to trendy, whimsical to neutrals. There's one for every woman and that's how we want it to be."
What can we expect from your brand in the future?
"You can expect a ripple in our local communities, both in the Philippines and in abroad. We want to create specific programs that run directly our design from Láro."
Lastly, where can we purchase your bags?
"You can currently purchase them in the United States through our website. For direct inquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org."
For those in the Philippines interested in buying Láro's products, you may contact email@example.com to assist you with your purchase.