The Philippines, being an archipelago, is home to the most pristine white beaches and the clearest waters. Our islands consist of many indigenous materials that can be creatively turned into fashionable items. With this vision, mother and daughter Janet and Janice Chua's Island Girl was born. The said brand is not just committed to bringing the beach closer to you; it also believes in sustainable fashion as their products are made from "upcycled wooden crates, coconut shells, raffia, straw, and the native banig." The brand successfully translates nature's best elements to provide the best form and functionality without sacrificing style. Scroll down and learn more!
1. Please tell us about Island Girl.
"We wanted to create a brand for our range of natural, hand-made resort accessories, bags, and sandals, which we were already producing for the export market and selling to major retailers in Europe, the U.S., Australia, Japan, and many other parts of the world. We thought that the name Island Girl perfectly suits our products, which are fun, fashionable, and always inspired by the tropics!"
2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?
"We always start off looking at current fashion trends and see how we can interpret them using natural materials that are locally-grown and sourced. We also infuse our designs with pops of color as well as some quirky elements to give it a fun and fresh look."
3. Where do you get your inspirations for your products? Who designs them?
"I (Janice) develop the initial designs for the brand and I have a team of designers that translate those initial concepts into several product variations. Not everything flies, of course!"
4. What made you decide to start your own business? How did it take off?
"Island Girl is a family business and we got into it by chance. Back in 2005, Janice's mother, Janet, was on vacation in Boracay and she saw that there was huge potential there for our line of products which we're only exporting at that time. We applied for space at D'Mall and created a brand that would fit our products and the Boracay market and things just took off from there."
5. Who do you have in mind carrying your pieces? Describe the ideal Island Girl woman.
"Our current customer loves travel, particularly to the beach. She loves the laid-back vibe and carries it with her, even when she's stuck in the city."
6. What are your brand's greatest strengths? What sets you apart from other stores?
"Our brand's greatest strength is in being able to constant innovate with our products. Coming from the export industry, we have worked with a number of local suppliers (mostly in Cebu) and have access to a wide range of materials that allow us to develop new products and churn out new concepts constantly. Island Girl is a home-grown brand for locally-grown, locally-sourced and locally hand-made products, and I think this is what sets us apart from other local brands. We always make use of different natural materials and highlight them in all of our products. Island Girl also works with subcontractors—local women or groups in the community. This helps them supplement their household income, too!"
7. What about its weaknesses? How are you able to overcome these?
"The company is incredibly operations-based, and we often think like manufacturers. Hence, the marketing and branding side is often compromised. We overcome this weakness, of course, by keeping up with trends and looking at what's out there."
8. Where do you see your brand in the coming years?
"Island Girl in the coming years will be more accessible with more shops opening in resort areas. In terms of key cities, we'll also have more retail partners carrying the brand. You can expect us to come up with more interesting and innovative products too!"
9. What should we expect from Island Girl in the coming days?
"More posts on social medial! Haha. Seriously though, in the coming days we'll be opening new outlets both in brick and mortar shops as well as online. We're set to do another big campaign with a fresh and very exciting new line-up of products!"
What else are you waiting for? Get a piece of the beach with you always! Order your Island Girl bags and accessories through their online shop. You may also buy Island Girl’s merchandise in their stores in Boracay at D’Mall; Mactan, Cebu on Punta Engano Road; at various hotels and resorts; in Manila at Rustan’s Makati, Shangri-La and Gateway, and Nothing but H20 in Alabang and Trinoma.