Spotlight

Marga Nograles and Michelle Fontelera: Moms Leading the #SupportLocal Movement

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The spirit of #supportlocal is strong in these leading mamas!

Kaayo’s founder and mom of three Marga Nograles and Casa Juan’s founder and boy mom Michelle Fontelera play a big role in the growth of the #supportlocal movement as well as the ushering of the Modern Filipiniana age. They could have simply made people more aware of the beauty of Philippine culture. However, they took it a step further. By elevating the artistry of our country’s heritage through pieces that can warm up every Filipino family’s home.

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Marga Nograles and Michelle Fontelera
Both Marga’s dress and Michelle’s top are from Kaayo

The indescribable joy of finding kindred spirits in a movement

A movement as big as #supportlocal always has a community. From consumers who are more mindful of where they buy to entrepreneurs who create opportunities for the many local artisans, the possibility of finding a kindred spirit is still rare—especially when that one spirit matches the same passion and drive. Marga Nograles had her dreams woven into each of Kaayo‘s bespoke pieces to suit the modern-day mom. Michelle Fontelera, on the other hand, immortalized them in flatware to brighten up every Filipino family’s household.

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Marga and Michelle in matching Kaayo outfits

“I’ve always been a fan of Casa Juan’s dining ware,” admits Marga. “And then when AC Legarda introduced me to Michelle, I was so grateful. I’ve always dreamed of a Philippine home line, celebrating the weaves of our indigenous tribes in Mindanao. I explored doing it myself and Kaayo has always been big on collaborations. We always believed in the strength of two brands—bringing together what we know and making the collaboration stronger!”

The feeling was mutual when Michelle Fontelera discovered a kindred spirit in Marga. “Personally, I am a BIG fan of Kaayo clothing and bags. The vision of our collaboration is to be able to make tableware that will give people a glimpse of the beauty of Mindanao weaves. We wanted to create beautifully designed plates that can compete and thrive in the global market,” Michelle shares.

Born from Kaayo with the heart of Casa Juan

When two creative mamas who have a passion and love for local artistry put their heads together, the result is a limited-edition bone china plate set inspired by the spirit of Kaayo and Casa Juan.

“Michelle was equally passionate and excited about her craft. So with the coming of the collaboration home line, we really wish to showcase the different stories of our indigenous tribes,” reveals Marga.

The beautiful plate set, for Michelle, is a call to many Filipinos to see that the Philippines’ artistry is no small fry in the world of fashion and beauty. “We want our consumers to know and see for themselves that Filipino design is simply beautiful. Filipino design is elegant and world-class. We want them to be proud of our culture. We want them to keep on supporting local brands so that we can all help each other in uplifting not just our economy but the image of our country as well. In Casa Juan, our main vision is that we want to bring a touch of the Philippines to every home, one plate at a time.”

A beautiful serving of many things to come

Kaayo, which means “to give more”, reflects and continues Marga Nograles’ passion to bring the country to the world as it begins its collaboration with Michelle Fontelera’s Casa Juan. But it will also feature more artistry and culture from the north with Tootsy Angara stepping up as the new Creative Director of Kaayo. “Tootsie was living there for a big part of her life. We are actually working on a Cordillera collection, following her lead. It’s an exciting time ahead!”

Michelle Fontelera has also realized one of her dreams for Casa Juan is to work with more weavers and artisans all over the Philippines. “I want to be able to export our Casa Juan products so that I can share a bit of our culture through our plate designs.”

Michelle happens to be the owner of Zenzest, too. And there seems to be a plan for a brand makeover. “For Zenzest, we are planning to reinvent the look and image to make it more modern and up-to-date.”

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Collared polo shirts are from Kaayo

Preserving the tradition

As moms of the #supportlocal movement, both of them wave a banner to many that there is pride to be found in the handwoven pieces from indigenous Filipino tribes. “I think that it is very important for us to support locally made products, especially those made by Filipino weavers. Weaving in the Philippines is part of our culture and heritage,” Michelle points out. “Since only a few people are supporting local textiles, the children of the weavers are already exploring other career options and some do not want to get into the weaving business because they feel that it is not very lucrative. If this happens, the time might come when nobody will be able to continue our weaving tradition. A part of our culture might end.  We don’t want that, right?”

Words KEVYN GOHU
Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Art Direction MARC YELLOW
Makeup TWINKLE BERNARDO and ANN PARBA of MAC COSMETICS
Hairstyling ARTHUR TOLENTINO and KRISTINE CAMBA
Shoot Coordination MJ ALMERO

Shot on location at THE PENINSULA MANILA

READ: Casa Juan’s Michelle Fontelera Steps Up to the Plate and Marga Nograles Spreads the Meaning of Kaayo in Tourism

More about Marga Nograles and Michelle Fontelera:

“We’re in this together,” say Karlo and Marga Nograles
#ShareKaayo: One Random Act of Kindness At A Time
Join the Modern Filipiniana Movement with These Shops!