Raw material innovation – bamboo, ethnic fabric make bagful of dreams a success

Rovilyn Mayat-an, owner of Mayat-An Handicrafts, is known for having innovatively mixed two ethnic crafts of Northern Luzon (Philippines) in weaving – that of earth colored bamboo with woven ethnic fabric in every imaginable hue. Her production ranges from fashion handbags, backpacks, gift bags, purses, among many novelty items.

With ease, Mayat-an said that earning her own money always seemed a part of her since childhood. “When I was in grade school, I used to bring candies to sell to classmates and friends. Then in high school, I took a summer job. I would cry while picking strawberries from endless rows of strawberry fields. Then an old woman told me that was how a farmer lived, and I thought of my hardworking parents,” she said in mixed dialects.

Mayat-an did not have to work for money. In Baguio City, she stayed with her elder sister and back in Banaue, Ifugao Province where she comes from, she had her parents who would always be supportive of all her efforts to pursue her dreams.
Mayat-an studied at the Benguet State University where she finished a course in Agriculture.
Mayat-an said that during those years, classmates and teachers at the university were fascinated by ethnic accessories and clothes she wore whenever she came back from a school break from Banaue. It was the germ of an idea for brisk business for Mayat-an who later on was quick to notice that ordinary items backhome in the rural areas were of exotic fashion value to city dwellers. That was back in the early 90s.
Mayat-an is part of the Women into the New Network for Entrepreneurial Reinforcement
Reserved at the back of her mind through all the years was the experience when she went home to her hometown, in Ilocos Sur. A full sack of woven bamboo baskets would sell in Baguio City at thrice the price in Banaue. With the little money saved, she bought more baskets and got into real business.
The Department of Trade and Industry opened an opportunity for her to participate in a trade fair. She had no money to even make the first samples, but she said she had the two samples required per item which qualified her to join the fair. An importer gave an order worth $17,000 and asked for her bank account so she could deposit 50% of the payment.

Mayat-an Handicrafts has over a hundred cloth weavers and continues to give income to bamboo bag weavers in remote Ilocos Sur. She has won several recognitions from award giving organizations for her amazing microenterprise story.

Mayat-an is part of the Women into the New Network for Entrepreneurial Reinforcement of UN Women/UNDP. “Information about my products is on the internet,” she said.

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