“When your business is driven by passion, you press on with the goal.”
My name is Loj Toñacao, and I am from the Philippines. I am a 37-year-old mother of three beautiful children. I took up a degree of Political Science during my university years, and was in the corporate world during my early years of self-discovery.
During my grade school years, I remember being fond of reading. I have a number of book collections, because when asked what I would like to have for my birthday, I would only answer “books". So, I guess that is one of my passions - reading. Growing up, I was also into arts and music. I didn’t do sports because of my asthma, and because of this I became very active in music. In fact, my first job was as a lounge singer in a hotel in Baguio. I am fond of discovering the cultures, history and traditions of our motherland.
'I have always had confidence in Filipino craftsmanship and culture'
It was because of this one Christmas spent among the Aetas in Isabela that made me decide to pursue a plan in my heart that had long been seated there. All my time working in the corporate world, I had always wanted to express my thoughts and to work in an environment where I could express my creativity and vision. I believe we have our own path to take and gifts to embrace. Looking at the tribe made me realize that I could do something to help, and fulfil my goals at the same time. I decided to pursue it even though I only had a small capital. This is where Anthologie started. It was very small initially. At first, I decided to do a collection of scarves but as I went through my journey, I finally found my niche. I have always had confidence in Filipino craftsmanship and culture. Philippine culture and tradition are very diverse. It is fascinating to me to discover something new and at the same time old in the traditions of our ethnic tribes. This is what made me enthusiastic in incorporating our culture into all our designs at Anthologie. We do this by incorporating our weave fabrics or interpreting our culture, traditions, and Filipino folklore through embroidery.
One of my goals is to provide jobs to our locals. Although I know getting materials from other countries will be less cost for us, I never see that as an option. At the moment, we are supporting communities of weavers in Abra, Isabela, Kalinga and Marawi. Finally, hotels and restaurant industries who are interested in evolving through integration of cultural designs are starting to notice our brand. For these clients, I do consultations and manufacturing of their uniforms.
My journey in entrepreneurship is very vivid. I am blessed to have had women mentors along the way. As I went through my entrepreneurship life, I was able to be one of the scholars of a women’s organization here in the Philippines and was also able to study fashion in one of the most prestigious schools in the Philippines. During the latter part of my journey the Department of Trade and Industry recognized me as one of the junior designers of Region 4, and I closely worked with Catriona Gray (former Miss Universe) who is one of our ambassadors. DTI-One Town One Product has been generous to me, giving me the opportunity to be mentored by world class Filipino designers. I am also one of the mentors of Go Negosyo giving advice to those who would like to start a business.
This pandemic has brought so much changes in all aspects of our businesses with no exemptions, whether it be SMSE’s or multinationals. Just like other businesses, we too are adjusting and striving to deal with all these changes. What makes it different is when your business is driven by passion, you press on with the goal. We focus on the holy grail, yet the capacity to be modified for a new and sometimes different use is important in these challenging times.