Passion and Stewardship

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.

Impact Night: A whole new level of sharing

By Melissa G. Bagamasbad

The Jacinto & Lirio Impact night last May 16 was an evening that was really about sharing.

Of stories, ourselves (physically, our listening and understanding abilities, as well as our ideas), what we had to say on the freedom wall upon entering, and so much more.  Jacinto & Lirio aimed to raise awareness on its brand, and raise funds for the social impact efforts that would develop its livelihood communities. Thus, the Impact Night held last May 16 at UP Ayala Technohub.

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Being out of the loop for some time, I knew briefly about Jacinto & Lirio’s involvement with GirlTank, and how the brand had obtained more international exposure, with efforts to join a new community, promote the enterprise, and gain funds.

Impact Night gave us a chance to be informed and updated on the enterprise’s projects.  Additionally, we got to know others, and shared ideas on what can be done to improve the brand in its various aspects.

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The program began with the Department of Trade and Industry giving a talk to connect us to the brand’s happenings in the provinces.  Interactive brainstorming by SPIN then proved to shake us, we knew that this wasn’t just any ordinary talk.

Richard “D-cal” Dacalos of SPIN Manila giving the interactive brainstorming session
the Jacinto & Lirio founders Anne (leftmost) and Noreen (rightmost) with DTI Rizal Provincial Director Ms. Mercy Parreno (middle)

We were divided into three groups, with each group having its own challenge that we had to find solutions to.  We were social entrepreneurs ourselves.

My group’s challenge was how to use other natural resources in the creation of other SE products.  During the discussion we talked about alternative natural products: from foldable shoes, to creating products that were animal-friendly, since there was also a rising consciousness in animal rights.  We also thought of tapping the support of one of the most famous politicians who supported businesses.  Her being a woman might help gain support for the female products.

During the latter part, we watched a video of GirlTank about Jacinto & Lirio.  Admittedly being feminine, this hooked me, and made me relate to the brand more.  From the group of young, dynamic women all over the world making an impact, to how enthusiastic the foreign owners were about Jacinto & Lirio catering to women with its products, and helping the government and the country, and how ingenious its concept was, it made me proud that the brand was not only growing bigger globally, but also being proactive in gaining more resources.

Different kinds of people attended the talk, from entrepreneurs, to designers, to students.  Impact Night allowed us not just to be informed audiences, but also to be our own social entrepreneurs who were given the chance to think up ideas, speak up, and have the chance to contribute these ideas, that could be seriously considered in building  the enterprise.  After the event, and looking at the displays of beautiful water hyacinth products in the area, the people bustling around making connections, old and new, we hope we were able to do our best in sharing.

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The author, Mel Bagamasbad is a journalist. She has been a long time advocate and writer for social enterprises.

See more pictures and videos of the events in our previous post!

Thank you to our GIRLTANK Backers!

thankyoubackers

We have 9 days left for the campaign.

Currently, we’ve been on the ground coordinating with new partner communities and we’re moving to a new exciting project, WHICH WILL REALLY NEED YOUR SUPPORT:

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A COMMUNITY-BASED BAG MANUFACTURING in our partner community!

This will help us strengthen the product design, and sustainability AND greatly increase the income of our community partners WHO ARE AMAZINGLY TALENTED in bag-making as well!

HELP US MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
Support: http://girltank.org/campaigns/filipino-innovative-technique-makes-beautiful-and-eco-friendly-handbags/

Social Entrepreneurship Advocate

by Lia Malferrari (former Jacinto & Lirio intern)photo2

As kids we’re taught to seek and live out the things that make us happy. I was no different. From the start I’ve always had a plan to get me there, a goal which I thought would lead me to happiness – to be a manager at a big company by the age of 25.

I’m turning 25 early next year, and I am nowhere near being that, yet, in a totally amazing way, I know that by my birthday, I will be able to say that I am happier than where I would have been if I had stuck to that goal.

Two years ago I found myself working at a normal corporate job, one that many of us would consider to be a great one, with above average pay and exceptional benefits. It was a job that could provide me a secure lifetime if I wanted, but I realized that although the job was great on paper, it was not what I was meant to be doing.

I eventually resigned, without any back-up job, and took a year off to work on myself and figure out what it is I wanted. I had been spending my whole life doing things for what I thought other people wanted for me and I needed the chance to just take a step back, be myself, and figure out my life.

Midway into my life-hiatus, I took an internship at Jacinto and Lirio. You know how they say sometimes it’s the most unexpected things sometimes that end up changing your life? Well, that was what this internship was for me.

People who know me usually say that I was one of the few who seemed to have it all figured out – had a life plan and everything, but the truth was, I had just been good at doing what I thought was right and expected of me. I had never stopped and just thought about what I expected of myself and what it is I truly wanted to be doing. That is until I was introduced to the world of business for social change by Jacinto and Lirio.

Social entrepreneurship was not a common life track to take for people my age. No one in my circle of friends had ever told me that they wanted to be a social entrepreneur. Through the internship with Jacinto and Lirio however, I realized that this is what I was meant to be involved in. The world, and our own country first and foremost, needs building, and as one of the lucky people blessed with the things I have, I felt a calling to make it my responsibility to do something about it and be the change I want to see in the world.

I also realized that to be a social entrepreneur is not just creating a business that does good for someone else, it is so much more than that. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication – so much more than the typical blood, sweat and tears. My internship has shown me both that this is what it is I want in life, at the same time, that maybe at this point, I’m not yet ready to make that step. Which is why for now,  I will be a social entrepreneurship advocate – spreading the good news about these great people doing so much for so many others (with a special mention of the two girls behind J&L, Noreen and Anne who inspire me a great deal), and supporting their businesses as much as I can.

It doesn’t take much to help build a better world as long as we all pitch in, and being able to realize the part I can play and developing that passion for it is the reason why I can say I’m happy where I am now and excited for what’s to come. I’ve realized, thanks to my time off and greatly to my internship at J&L what my real life plan was meant to be. I won’t go into all the details (especially since this entry is getting quite long. J). Suffice it to say that it’s turning about to be something I never expected, yet feels everyday like it’s where I’m meant to be.

Photo by: Tajen Sui