- Best Virtual Mailboxes

DREAMER & DOER: Martha Rodriguez of VESTI Bags

October 24, 2012

Between my backpacking trip around Asia, and Martha’s frequent travels around the Philippines as well, it wasn’t so easy for us to find time to meet, but after some 4-5 months of intending to interview Martha for my blog, I finally had the chance to meet up with her at Café Mary Grace. 🙂

When you meet with Martha, you know you’re talking to someone who is the real deal; someone who knows her convictions and stands by them. Just the kind of person I’m glad is behind one of my esteemed local brands, Vesti.

Fashion, Function & Cultural Preservation

From the moment I saw Vesti’s 2012 summer collection (particularly the Dita drawstring and Vernica sling made with tinalak fabric – which are out of stock now due to a limited production per collection), I knew I loved the brand. I’m quite the bag lady (as in I think I spend the most of my retail energy lusting after bags vs. shoes or clothes, though I am kept in check by my limited desire to consume). And if you know me at all (through my blog or otherwise), then you’ll know I’m a big sucker for indigenous textiles.

But more than just creating pretty bags, Martha is driven by the passion to spread Mindanao pride by showcasing their amazing fabric and preserving their weaving tradition through the application of these textiles on functional and very aesthetically appealing ladies’ bags.

[Vesti’s Holiday 2012 Yakan Collection]

Seed-planting & Risk-taking

After graduating with a degree in Clothing Technology in UP Diliman last 2007, Martha worked for 3 years with various renowned retail companies like Rustan’s, Adora and Seven, and while working with these brands helped her travel abroad and elicit a bit of envy from her contemporaries, something was missing. In December 2010, she designed a bag for herself that happened to catch other people’s attention, and a seed was planted.

“Trust your instincts. Go take the risk. Don’t play safe. Call the shots”, Martha says, and this is exactly what she did when she left her comfortable corporate cubicle to launch and grow Vesti in November 2011.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for Martha, starting up a business on her own, reaching the tribe for her materials, and explaining to customers that Philippine-made does not necessarily mean cheap (like mass-produced China goods), especially when so much time and effort is given to creating the textile and designing the product. But with a supportive family, the empowerment of being her own boss, and the drive to share what she loves, Mindanao, to others, Martha soldiers on.

“I don’t have the perfect road map in my life. I’m just taking it one step at a time.”

And with every step, she encourages more and more people to rediscover Mindanao and our indigenous textiles; she elevates the status of Filipino brands and products. All while traveling around our beautiful country. 🙂

[Nomad Manager with Vesti’s inspiring Martha Rodriguez]

You see the fire inside her when she speaks, and you know that she is someone to watch out for. I look forward to more of Vesti’s success in the future, and Filipinos’ bigger embrace for homegrown textiles and products.

Vesti will be at the Global Pinoy Bazaar this weekend, November 10-11, at the Rockwell Tent. I’ve got 40 bazaar passes, 2 Vesti bags and MORE up for grabs in my Traveling With Pinoy Pride Giveaway! XD JOIN HERE.

You can also check out Vesti’s 2012 Holiday Yakan Collection bags at the Nomad Manager shop. 🙂

Spooling inspiration,

Follow my tweets • Find me on Facebook • Sign up for my newsletter • E-mail me