By Tricia Aquino
“VESTI, VESTI, VESTI,” is the first thing Martha Rodriguez thinks about when she wakes up.
This is how passionate the young entrepreneur is about her brand. Obsessed, even. And it shows in the bags she creates, which incorporate textile from Mindanao.
After years of working for the foreign retail industry, she decided she was done selling outrageously priced merchandise when she could be selling her own stuff.
So she quit, established her own brand, and couldn’t be happier about it.
Today she is not only doing what she loves, but is promoting the place she grew up in, as well. Her mother and father are from Surigao City and Cagayan de Oro respectively, but the family moved to Manila when she was in high school.
Her classmates, upon learning she was from Mindanao, would ask, “Where’s Mindanao?” “Are you gonna behead us?”
(She answered the latter with a bewildered, “Of course not!”)
And now she promotes the island – and corrects misimpressions about it – in the most fashionable way.
Aside from having an online shop at www.vesti.ph and www.themall.ph/vesti, VESTI can also be found at the Moana Boutique at the Rockwell Powerplant Mall and Anthill Fabric Gallery in Cebu City. They have a showroom in Las Pinas as well.
Martha makes sure no one gets left behind on her rise to the top, sourcing her materials directly from local weavers, thus ensuring the latter get a decent living.
“Yabang Mindanao, Yabang Pinoy,” is how VESTI’s artistic owner likes to end her e-mails and talks.
With Martha’s untiring efforts, Mindanao has a daughter it can be proud of, too.
Here are her eight tips for entrepreneurs: