Style & Shop

Like most women, I have my own tribe and recently realized how strong the power of visualization is. I, along with two good friends, plotted our career plans last June 1 after feeling a bit lost as to where to bring our chosen fields next. We are all entrepreneurs: a writer, a stylist and a photographer who want to succeed while making a significant difference to people who’s lives we’ve been privileged to touch. We made a vow to work as hard as we could while keeping the eye on the prize: opening up our hearts to opportunities and—eeeeep!!!—even doing things outside our comfort zones.

As fate would have it, I got a message from my friend Dara of Collab Contessa asking me if I was open to doing a workshop with trunk show at the end of June at 2nd’s, a restaurant she was doing marketing for. This was already mid-month and although I felt two weeks wasn’t enough time to make things move, the excitement of doing it compelled me to say yes. The idea was to have a styling workshop on how to put together looks using the brands I personally chose to participate. And since SOS is all about helping regular folk find their style identity, I wanted to use real women as models—friends and clients who I’ve come to know well. The ball immediately went rolling through many exchanged messages and ideas that by Day 1, I had three out of four merchants confirmed. The succeeding days were spent designing the e-vite with Drey, Dara’s talented graphic artist sister and partner in CC, arranging schedules with the venue and brands, making a timeline for posting and inviting and everything else that needed attention. It was a breeze working with the sisters; when everyone on board is efficient, you get things done in the least time. I learned a lot from Dara while doing this event, from the proper use of hashtags and captions to timing and patience and zen-like calmness (despite the stress) that things will fall into place.

Next thing I knew, it was the week of the event. I won’t lie, my stomach was in knots and I was so out of sorts! Throughout the week, I tried to memorize my spiel with bullet points in my notes so I don’t forget important information but my husband suggested I speak from my heart and rely on stored knowledge—it was a topic I knew inside out. Both actually made sense and as I was about to find out on the first day, necessary.

Day 1

Friday came and I woke up confident and ready, had my hair done and went early to the venue. However, I wasn’t too crazy with what I was wearing. Ironic for a stylist, I know, but I was deciding between fashionable and comfort. I chose the latter without giving much thought about the former. Mistake number one. When people started to come in, I felt the pressure, but went about my to-dos: style the models, prep the merchants and waited until everyone settled down before I began talking. 3:30 pm, the agreed workshop schedule was fast approaching, so I positioned myself in front, mic in hand and started my workshop. I was a nervous wreck inside, but tried my best to play it cool and follow my planned outline. Somewhere along the way though, with all eyes on me by my friends and attendees, I fast tracked my presentation. Mistake number two. My tips felt bitin and the flow wasn’t so organized. I closed it with an awkward Q&A that left crickets chirping. Haha!

Not my best moment, but I think I did a good job styling my friends who very graciously said yes to doing it for me, which made me feel a bit bad, thinking that I didn’t do them or the people who came for the workshop justice. Thankfully, I have honest friends who gave me feedback so I could improve for the second day. I promised them I’d do better (they wouldn’t be there) and keep their suggestions in mind. Thankfully, too, the trunk show was another story. The merchants all came up to me and said they sold pretty well and were looking forward to day 2. At least the goal to promote their brands and make a profit was achieved!

Here are scenes from that day captured by my friend, photographer Cholo dela Vega.

Heyjow is celebrating their 4th Anniversary with a new collection called Savanna, inspired by the South African landscape. Indy Ycasiano of She Dreams In Ink transformed her table into a mini jungle with safari elements complete with plants!

Merriam Batara’s gorgeous silk embroidered tassel earrings adorned the back wall. She came all the way from Bulacan to join us and is having a trunk show in Paris very soon!

Em Sulit and Indy Ycasiano are power women who run successful businesses while juggling motherhood and everything else. They’re also the duo behind School of Styling, an events styling workshop that centers on different themes and occasions.

Em was one of my very first clients and is actually so petite it’s crazy how she has two kids na! I put her in a matching top and bottom to elongate her frame and topped it with a cropped jacket that’s perfect for her body type. Jacket, Kaayo; top and pants, The Florence Fling; earrings, Heyjow.

Indy is a curvy girl that’s on a weight loss journey, so I thought why not put her in something she can easily move in and can wear to work and play. She left the event wearing this dress, BTW. Dress, The Florence Fling; earrings, Heyjow.

Agoo Bengzon is a beauty girl and Unilever beauty expert who looks just as fresh as she did when I met her over ten years ago. She is pear-shaped but hides it strategically by wearing dark bottoms with the right fit. This vest she has on conceals and flatters in the right places. Vest, Kaayo; earrings, Heyjow.

Ana Kalaw is a dear friend who I know inside out, sartorially included. She loves her jumpsuits so this was a natural pick. Ana is tall and lithe, making her the ideal candidate for this easy piece accented by a Tangkulo scarf made by the T’boli tribe from Mindanao. Jumpsuit, The Florence Fling; scarf, Kaayo. Tip: The scarf is your statement accessory so no need for embellishments otherwise you’ll look too cluttered, like a christmas tree.

My lovely models for Day 1 of the workshop all wearing The Florence Fling and Kaayo.

Day 2

Dusting off the previous day’s learning experience, I was ready to face the afternoon after a morning run and a more exciting, albeit tame, outfit. I was expecting more guests that day including my mom, sister and titas as well as friends I haven’t seen in a while. It should’ve added more pressure but coming from the first day’s mishaps, I didn’t let it bother me; I had more organized notes and pointers, itching to blow them away with tips galore! True enough, when you put your mind to it, you really can conquer anything—including a mother’s critical stare (love you, mom!). I was careful to be more thoughtful with my words, tried not to forget bits of information like the brands’ backgrounds and my models’. I made it light and fun but informative, easy to understand and take in. At the end of the workshop, I was feeling great and knew I did a better job. Finally, I could relax, mingle and have a much needed drink! I still have a lot to improve on for future workshops but I can say now that I’m more confident and less tentative of my moves and words. So… bring it on!!!

Photos of day 2 by Aldrin of Iv Photography 

Joana Gube of Heyjow wore this cool top from one of my personal favorites, Unif0rm. She had the sleeves custom made into this cool cut-out detail and paired it with dark skinny jeans and heels. Topped off with her Carlow leather tassel earrings from the Savanna collection.

Super impressive Heyjow table designed by She Dreams In Ink!

Marie Faith, SOS muse and entrepreneur, peruse the merchandise and wearing Heyjow Roux earrings in with green pompoms from the Savanna collection.

It was a pleasure to finally meet photographer Sheila Catilo! She wears the Chantelle necklace from the Heyjow‘s Savanna collection.

The charming Marga Norgales is the brains behind Kaayo, a brand I spotted at Try Local‘s IG and instantly fell in love with her embroidered pieces. Here she is wearing one of their signature a-line skirts. Kaayo will soon open at the Shangri-La Mall on July 14. 

One of my models, SOS muse and friend Leona Panutat contemplates her outfit. She’s wearing an embroidered Kaayo sweatshirt.

Marga with my models and muses L-R Mae Dichupa, Ana Ongpin, Leona Panutat and Chinky Apostol all wearing Kaayo mixed with The Florence Fling.

Kaayo‘s Tangkulo scarves that sold like pancakes! Made by the Bagobo Tagabawa tribe, no scarf is exactly the same so you get a unique piece every time.

Meet the super talented and funny Merriam Batara, designer extraordinaire of the beautiful beaded silk tassel earrings, among other accessories.

Ladies flocking to her table like bees to a field of flowers!

Tessa Nieto Villalon is the pretty designer behind The Florence Fling, a line of clothes and accessories that easily transforms from work to play.

This fuschia top is one of her best sellers.

I wore a top from Seek The Uniq, Monki pants, Charles & Keith slides and Merriam Batara earrings.

Leona and Chinky pre-styling both already looked super chic!

Drey David, 1/2 of power duo Collab Contessa is wearing head-to-toe white and looking fresh and chill in her weekend uniform.

My cousin Nadine Cuisia in a breezy yellow jersey dress and her son Nate, who styled his white polo and skinny jeans look himself!

Lucien Villaruz of Little Luli looking so bagets and fresh wearing her Heyjow earrings.

My sister’s BFF and one of my fashion heroes Hollie Reyes in a minimalist ensemble. A refreshing change from the frills and ruffles trend of late.

Marie Faith of Pottly n Tubby in an easy playsuit accented with her Heyjow pompom earrings.

My dear sissy Cricket Bella in a checkered dress (that matched my pants haha) from Monki, espadrilles from Spain and earrings from Herman and Co.

My momma Celine Bella in a dress purchased online and embellished pink espadrilles from Spain.

We get it from our Mama!

Last but not the least, my hubby Carlo who patiently took photos and endured a room full of rambunctious girls, LOL. Thank you BB!

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