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The intersection of social media and a social entrepreneurship 

August 1, 2017

Digital Reporter

Cover art Erka Capili Inciong

When she was still in high school, blogger Yuki Tansengco joined a Manila Bay clean up that changed her life forever. The amount of trash they collected stayed ingrained in her mind that even after she’s made a lucrative career as a blogging elite, she decided to build an eco‑friendly social enterprise called Style Cat. “We can’t just sit down and be apathetic,” said Ms. Tansengco who recently launched Style Cat Resort: a collection of bags woven by the women of Albay from local materials such as raffia and abaca. With introductory prices starting at ₱1,799, the youthful bag collection was sold out only one week after its July 16 launch.

Aside from having designs inspired by travel—the bags’ flamingos, fruits and flowers, for example, are all based on sunny summer memories—what really fuels Ms. Tansengco’s passion for the project is how it aligns with her first love, blogging. “It’s fun because through this brand you’ll see the effectivity of social media influencer marketing,” she shared. “We didn’t pay for ads, all we did was post in social media. Within a week, Style Cat had 2,000 followers. The power of social media is truly strong.”

Art Erka Capili Inciong

Ms. Tansengco’s small business traces its roots to her first year in college at the De La Salle University, where she upcycled fashion accessories from bottle caps, scrap cloth and old game pieces like domino, die and scrabble tiles, and took trips to Quiapo during lunch break to shop for additional materials. Her first customers, her classmates, paid her between ₱80 and ₱200, and sometimes beyond ₱300 for an accessory.

Being a self‑proclaimed “GGSS” (Filipino millennial slang describing a narcissist, literally “Gandang Ganda Sa Sarili”), she modelled her own designs and posted photos of herself on Tumblr, Multiply and other popular social media sites then. “I started receiving orders for my accessories from Visayas and Mindanao. I thought this is amazing!” From internet exposure came invites to bazaars until it got to the point that she can’t meet the demand for her accessories by making everything by herself.

With blogging you can get so many opportunities to raise capital.

Blogging opened doors for her. “At first people asked me if I were an online store, and then I got invited to media launches,” she narrated. “It escalated from small things to actual brand partnerships.” She has worked with big brands like Fujifilm, Ford Motors and Uniqlo, and have appeared on television shows and magazine pages. Learning how to create captivating social media content—including taking good pictures—she became a part of the blogging elite.

But as she devoted more time for blogging, Ms. Tansengco spent less time in creating eco‑friendly fashion. “For a time I felt bad that I just stopped at what got me started,” she confessed. “Blogging felt like a glass ceiling for me. I missed designing and creating. I want a business that would be eco‑friendly, sustainable, with a timeless look, and locally made to provide income for fellow Filipinos.”

A serendipitous meeting with a woman carrying a basket tote bag in the mall reignited Ms. Tansengco’s love for design. She followed the designer of the the bag, an artisan who hails from Albay, Bicol. “There are so many communities outside of Metro Manila with nice talents but don’t have access to technology to promote their business,” Ms. Tansengco said. “Nanay presented me with her product catalog and that’s how we came up with our first ever collection of bags.” That started it all. Eventually, Ms. Tansengco also joined a Gkonomics contest that, while she did not win, still got her partnered with a community in Pandi, Bulacan. “This is awesome,” she recalls thinking. “Like a cat with nine lives I can do a comeback and try business again.”

Art Erka Capili Inciong

But this time, she’s balancing blogging and business and using one to fuel the other. “I won’t be alone this time,” she added. “I have this community and the community that I built with blogging.”

“For the past seven months, I’ve traveled to eight countries,” she said. “With blogging you can get so many opportunities to raise capital.”

In the future, Ms. Tansengco plans to partner with more local artisans. “Our goal is to take Style Cat overseas. The problem I have now is not looking for people who want to buy our products, but that the nanays I meet don’t find weaving a sustainable source of income,” she said. “The challenge is convincing them that they don’t have to leave their families to take other jobs in the city or overseas, that you can help make their business sustainable.”

“A lot of people are enticed to buy our product not really because they’re sustainable, but because resort fashion wear is now an Instagram trend,” Ms. Tansengco said.

“But when they find out that that what they bought were locally made, they also feel like they are part of the story of your brand. They’re also carrying the advocacy,” she added. “When you make them feel like a part of the story, they feel more engaged and know that they spent their money well.”