Monday, January 30, 2017

Olivia and Diego

A Story about Empowering Women: Olivia and Diego

It’s no secret that women love jewelry. There’s a reason why the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” was written. Jewelry comes in many shapes, styles, and sizes that can suit every personality. It can make or break an outfit and can give a woman that extra boost of confidence that she needs.
The brand Olivia and Diego empowers women in a completely different way. It is a social business that works with communities of stay-at-home mothers and human trafficking survivors to create jewelry made out of fabrics from discarded cotton-knitted t-shirts that are beyond repair. “O&D’s mission is to empower women in communities to rise above poverty through fashion and design by transforming them into artisans who craft upcycled jewelry through livelihood projects and workshops. The brand’s goal is to produce beautiful, unique, and high-quality artisanal accessories for the cultural creative.”

Danica Bracelet and Necklace
Giselle Bracelet and Necklace
Elise Bracelet and Necklace
The idea for O&D came about during Yana Santiago and Kayan Capili’s week-long surfing trip at Mati City in Mindanao Island. There, the teammates met a married Moroccan couple, Olivia and Diego, who were backpacking their way across the Philippines. They used Olivia and Diego’s passion for life and their commitment to giving back to nature and making wonderful memories along the way as their inspirations and to help shape the brand’s culture into what it is today.
It was shortly after meeting the couple that Santiago started Olivia & Diego (O&D) with her teammates on August 2013 in Davao City, Philippines. Her initial O&D business plan led to her representing the Philippines as a Young Challenger at Social Global Business Summit 2013 hosted by Yunus & Youth in Kuala Lumpur, joining other young social entrepreneurs from other countries. “Although Social Entrepreneurship has always been interesting to me, it was during this event that I became really passionate about it. I love how it works. I love how a business can involve communities in their operations. I love how there are so many businesses involved already. I love how they impact both the lives of the artisans/community and their customers. So I knew what I wanted to do once I got home.”

In November of the same year, the group began reaching out to local communities, which resulted in collaborations with the Talikala community (an NGO for human-trafficking survivors), Agdao community, San Juan community and Mati community (the last three of which are communities of stay-at-home mothers).

O&D understands the financial problems and the lack of both economic and financial opportunities our country faces.
(1) A huge chunk of our people are unable to get quality education; most of the time, they drop out of school to work and help their families.
(2) The Philippines has a serious trafficking problem of women and children being illegally recruited into the tourist industry for exploitation.

(3) A bulk of discarded t-shirts and other clothing end up in landfills, adding to the pollution and health problems of people living in the surrounding areas.

Since Santiago took up Clothing Technology in college, she was able to use that knowledge to build Olivia and Diego. “I know how fabrics work and I know what they can do. Jewelry-making is something I'm familiar with,” said Santiago.

O&D’s approach to their designs, sourcing and manufacturing are described as ethical. The brand is socially and environmentally conscious, keeping in mind the ‘Think Local, Go Global’ philosophy.

Agatha Bracelet and Necklace

Serena Bracelet and Necklace

Tara Bracelet and Necklace

The brand creates designs that are inspired by a wide range of people, tribes, places, culture, and materials in the Philippines. They create opportunities for steady, additional income for the artisans, giving them stability and allowing them to be self-sufficient. In a way, O&D is a platform where they can express their stories and grow confident with their skills and talents.

Olivia & Diego aims to be the top artisanal jewelry brand that promotes and celebrates women empowerment by providing equal opportunities and employment for women in marginalized communities within the next five to ten years.

“We are planning to open a workshop on our own with our artisans which will also double as a showroom for our jewelry. For the community, we have big dreams for them. We hope to work with more communities and provide them with the help they need in terms of financial literacy and basic education (possibly for their children).”
Visit Olivia and Diego to know how you can get your own upcycled fabric accessories!
For more inspiring brand stories, like and follow Life in Technicolor on Facebook and Instagram!

All photos from Olivia and Diego | article first seen on Taste.Company

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