By Anne Krystle M. Yee
In everything we do, we should never stray far from our “why”. As human beings created in the image and likeness of God, we have an inherent role and duty to be the stewards of the planet we live in. “It was not always plain to me that pursuing God’s glory would be virtually the same as pursuing my joy. Now I see that millions of people waste their lives because they think these paths are two and not one.” (Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper) This is the “why” that keeps me inspired and motivated to work towards my vision for Jacinto & Lirio.
Waste a day? A BIG NO NO to me, what more, waste a lifetime? Productivity and efficiency are my core values. Back in 2010, I was figuring out what my God given purpose is and I took a test to find my personal “chazown”, which is God’s unique purpose. A free online test was offered by www.chazown.com which allowed me to form my life’s purpose statement after connecting my core values, spiritual gifts, past experiences and external environment factors: “To lead a God centered business that strives for excellence and efficiency, while maintaining a harmonious relationship with my coworkers and other stakeholders that is brought about by transparency, collaboration, diversity, teamwork and concern for people and the environment.”
I grew up with Chinese parents who like most Chinese families would train their children in business. At 7 years old, you would find me in our TERRIE boutique in Virra Mall, “sales talking” our clients. My business sense was also seen in school. I sold stickers and handmade paper envelopes when I was just grade one. During Christmas, I would sell TERRIE accessories and clothes to my classmates. Exposed to fashion early in life, it became my passion. As young as seven years old, I told my mom that I wanted my own SM department store someday, but I knew that I couldn’t do this alone. I have to collaborate. And then, there it was. God gave me the opportunity to start Jacinto & Lirio. I realized then that my connection to an eco-fashion company was the fruit of my inclination towards recycling back in my elementary years. This was mostly seen in my artworks in school and my newspaper/old magazine wrapped Christmas presents. As a matter of fact, they used to call me “Ms. Recycle.”
My innate love for recycling can be seen in my “urge” to create something out of garbage. Whenever I see broken accessories or other objects that are considered trash, I try to fix it and make something useful and usually something fashionable out of it.
With Jacinto & Lirio, I am indeed creating something stylish out of a pest. Apart from being the CEO, I am also the designer. My task is to design products out of the water hyacinth and turn it into something of value. Value, not just to the eyes of the end consumers, but value to the lives of the less fortunate.
Jacinto & Lirio allows me to practice and share environmental stewardship which is inline in leading a God-centered business wherein God gave man dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the animals of the land (Gen 1:1–2:4). God also calls us to serve and preserve (Gen 2:5-15).
The water hyacinth is the most damaging aquatic plant worldwide because it can reproduce rapidly. It grows up to 2 meters wide, reducing light and oxygen, changing water chemistry, thus affecting local flora and fauna. Some of its damaging effects are: hampered fishing livelihood due to marine transportation and irrigation problems; high flood levels reaching as high as 6 feet due to clogging of waterways; susceptibility to water borne diseases like malaria or dengue.
Our group encountered this plant, summer of 2009. The founders: Anne Mariposa-Yee, Noreen Bautista, Patricia Lalisan, Ryan Pelongco and Charm Cruz were enrolled under the business accelerator program of Ateneo. We wanted to utilize indigenous materials, because our country has abundant natural resources, but the potential hasn’t been fully tapped. Noreen’s aunt works for DTI and she advised us to take a look at the water hyacinth because at that time, it was one of the problems our government faced. This led us to various water hyacinth communities like Las Piñas, Pampanga and Laguna. When we saw the devastating image of the water hyacinth, we asked ourselves, “How can we transform the challenges of the poor into opportunities?”
Hence, this led to the creation of Jacinto & Lirio which means “Hyacinth and Lily”. More than serving as a viable environmental, social and commercial solution to the water hyacinth, poverty and colonial mentality problem, J&L is my way of being a faithful steward to do the Master’s will with the Master’s resources.
JACINTO & LIRIO is a social enterprise that sustainably transforms a “pest” into eco-iconic and multi-functional leather goods. It provides beautifully handcrafted plant and leather goods, impressively multi-functional, stylish conversational pieces for people who want to make a strong patriotic, environmental and socio-ethical statement.
Our advocacy aims to inspire others to live a zero-waste lifestyle to help them be good stewards. We provide different channels where people can support our advocacy through online, retail stores, events like weddings and corporate giveaways. For every purchase of Jacinto & Lirio, we contribute to the community development of our partners so they can keep transforming their families and communities for the better.
By God’s grace, my life verse is Colossians 3:23-24 which states “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Right now, I can’t say that I have fully fulfilled my God-given purpose in life and admit that I have weaknesses the Lord is working on. But one thing is for sure, I am confident that God is continually molding my passion, to be aligned with His purpose for my life. After all, it is through our weakness that God’s glory can be magnified. My ultimate goal is to hear this from My Maker: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’ (Matthew 25:21). I encourage everyone to be faithful stewards of all God has given us wherever opportunities are presented to glorify Him, serve the common good and further His Kingdom.