Gone are the days when women are not seen and heard in business and in the workplace. Today, women are everywhere doing everything. Whether selling their own baked goods, leading big-named companies, walking the runway, or running a one-woman business. It’s exhilarating and liberating to finally see society acknowledge that women are just as capable, intelligent, and powerful.
At inka, we’re all about championing women — may it be in the track and field, the beach, behind the cameras, or the boardroom. We want women to believe that there’s nothing we can’t do and there are no limits to what we can achieve.
To start off the year, we spoke to three women who we believe embodies our brand’s philosophy in women empowerment. We talked to them about their work, what inspires them and gets them going, the challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them.
Introducing Anna Escalona, an amazingly talented artist and the President and CEO of Aesca. Her proudly-Filipino brand boasts beautifully made products with artworks passionately made by local artists and heartfully handmade by local artisans.
We'd love to hear a little about what you do, your special appreciation for art, and your brainchild Aesca.
Aesca started about more than 2 years ago when I felt that there was a need for a wider platform for artists to showcase their art. As an artist myself, I realized that there have been very little venues or platforms to express one's self through art. Filipino's are very talented people, could you agree? So my vision for Aesca on a bigger scale is for our art, culture and history to be better known globally through products that are ethically-made. We reproduce and recreate artworks on products that are intentionally made to also share beautiful messages behind an artist's collection.
"We reproduce and recreate artworks on products that are intentionally made to also share beautiful messages behind an artist's collection."
What is the most rewarding part about being an artist and running your own business?
I would say it's being able to meet different people and artists who I believe will make a difference in society through their art. The advocacy behind my brand is what keeps me going despite the everyday challenges I encounter. Growth is endless as an entrepreneur. And this makes me feel more alive with what I do.
"Growth is endless as an entrepreneur. And this makes me feel more alive with what I do."
What do you do to recharge and regain creativity?
Well, of course, creating art out of nowhere would be the first. Second would be spending time in nature - may it be a trip to the beach or just spending time with the people I love. Meditation also helps me increase my energy and regain back my balance.
Check out www.aesca.ph to know more about Anna and her brainchild, Aesca.
Another inspiring businesswoman on our feature is Cybille Gayle Albano, a thrill-seeker skater, surfer, and owner of NaiyaRiverSwim. Being faithful to its namesake, this brand offers locally and beautifully made swimwear for adventure-seeking Filipino women.
Talk to us about yourself, your passion: skate & surf, and the work you do as a swimwear brand owner.
I started skating back in 2011. Ever since my first ride on a skateboard, I never stopped. Same goes with surfing. The thing about surfing and skateboarding is you create your world. I feel free. I was always the shy kid when I was young and skateboarding made me open up to life more. I wouldn’t be who I am today and I wouldn’t be able to meet all these amazing people if it weren’t for these sports.
Because of my love for the beach and the surf and skate lifestyle, I created my own swimwear brand, @naiyariverswim, that encourages women to go out and play more. I wanted to share this lifestyle with women because it is life changing. It changed my life for the better. I’m a one woman team. I do everything from design, shoots, social media, packaging, shipping, dealing with customers. It doesn’t feel like work at all because I love what I do.
"I’m a one woman team. I do everything from design, shoots, social media, packaging, shipping, dealing with customers. It doesn’t feel like work at all because I love what I do."
Your carefree and nature loving spirit radiates through your personal blog @cybillegayle. What do you love most about our environment and how does it inspire your brand, Naiya River Swimwear?
I moved to Siargao Island back in 2016. I fell in love with the island, how simple life is there and how beautiful it is. Being close to nature and witnessing it’s magic made me connect with it more, especially when surfing a wave. That connection led me to utilize my power as a human being to make changes for the better. It inspires me to be more cautious in what I do with my brand. In fact, Naiya River’s next collection of swimmies will be made out of recycled fabric from fish nets. My brand isn’t perfect, but what is? I make sure to only produce a few at a time so as not to produce too much waste.
"Being close to nature and witnessing it’s magic made me connect with it more, especially when surfing a wave. That connection led me to utilize my power as a human being to make changes for the better."
What's your idea of a hygge lifestyle?
Living on the island, being close to nature, and I can surf and skate anytime I want!
Check out @naiyariverswim to see Cybille’s baby and her amazing line of swimwear!
Finally, meet Lorraine Ojimba, a Filipina-Nigerian model who has been the face of several brands and has proudly walked runways for several years. She’s proud of her rich cultural background and embraces her uniqueness.
We'd love to hear a little about yourself, where you're from, and the work you do as a model.
I'm Lorraine Ojimba, 22 years old. A Filipino-Nigerian born and raised here in the Philippines. Being mixed race opened a lot of doors for me especially in the modeling industry. After randomly being "discovered" and later encouraged by a Hair and Make Up Artist, opportunities like Ramp, Print and TVC projects came into my life all the while juggling it with my studies back then.
"Being mixed race opened a lot of doors for me especially in the modeling industry."
How do you embrace your flaws and what is your advice to anyone to embrace their imperfections?
I'd say I had to learn embracing my flaws, on my own, the hard way. Growing up, looking and feeling different from others and entering the modeling industry in my teenage years took a toll on how I viewed and appreciated myself. I had a shallow understanding of what to consider as my flaws back then, much more embracing them. I used to consider any negative comments from clients or anyone, even when jokingly said, as a flaw and let it get to me until it becomes an insecurity of mine.
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who love me for who I am and people who represent me and who I can be. I learned to embrace my flaws after taking the lead of others who look like me and whom I look up to. I then realized that the things I used to consider as my imperfections: from my skin color, my curly hair, my african nose, the mixed culture and traditions I was brought up with and so much more, are things that make me who I am today. They're not something to be insecure about but, definitely I should be proud of. I realized that the things I thought were pulling me down and making me weak are actually my greatest strengths.
In a world ruled by trends, peer and social pressure, I do my best to remain true to myself and others. This way I am able to let go of unrealistic standards I used to hold on to. This is also what I encourage others to do.
Even for a moment, let us try to let go of the expectations we've been trying to meet for so long and look at ourselves at a bigger picture. Oftentimes, the things we label as our flaws are actually our best assets, especially when recognized and embraced early on. We do not need to look and be like the majority of people we see on social media because, as silly as it sounds, we are who we're meant to look like and be; not our filtered selfies, not the Kardashians or whoever trends on social media. You are you and no one else has the power you possess and THAT is one of your greatest strengths.
"In a world ruled by trends, peer and social pressure, I do my best to remain true to myself and others. This way I am able to let go of unrealistic standards I used to hold on to. This is also what I encourage others to do."
Describe hygge in 5 words.
contentment, comfort, simplicity, warmth, and joy.
Get to know Lorraine and her work through @rainojimba.
If there’s one thing in common from these three women, it’s that they’re all indulging their passions while giving back to the world. All beautiful work-in-progress out to make a change.
Holiday 2020 Hooga Collection Campaign Video feat. Rain, Anna, and Gayle.