The Brave Story is a lifestyle brand that practices sustainable and slow fashion. In 2021, Cris Roxas, Creative Director & Founder, discovered fabric scraps while decluttering during the pandemic lockdown. Inspired by her grandmother, Cris started to create her own patchwork pieces and was inspired to teach this craft to artisan mothers. We talk to Cris about the challenges she faces as a transwoman entrepreneur and how she stays motivated by the joy she witnesses in the lives of The Brave Story's customers and artisans.
NN: How did it all start for you?
Cris: Sustainability has been one of my advocacies since I was a university student; being a former intern for local social enterprises also opened my eyes to the challenges that women experience in earning livelihood for their families. After working in the garment retail industry for the past 7 years, I chose to pivot and use my creative skills to make my own lasting positive change. In 2022, I created The Brave Story, a sustainable lifestyle brand that repurposes textile waste into clothing and home decor that are carefully crafted by artisan mothers. I integrated my knowledge from my professional experiences together with my heart for service to make the positive change that I want to see.
NN: What is the biggest challenge you face?
Cris: The biggest challenge that we face as a startup social enterprise is finding the right market for our artisanal products. Based on our experience, it seems that we receive more support from foreign buyers. However, as a local brand, I would like more Filipinos to appreciate the craftsmanship of our artisans. As an individual, the biggest challenge that I face is receiving judgment from other people on the basis of my gender identity as a transgender woman. Despite my achievements and the positive change that I make together with the artisan communities that I worked with, I am sometimes treated differently just because I am transgender.
NN: What do you like about what you do?
Cris: It makes me happy whenever I see the smiles of our patrons whenever they wear or use The Brave Story products. Also, it gives me a feeling of fulfilment whenever I see our artisan mothers become empowered whenever they receive positive feedback about their creations or when they find out that our products have reached other countries. They feel proud of themselves and it means a lot to me, to be part of their journey towards embracing their self-worth.
NN: What is needed in order to bring about systemic change for the LGBTQIA+ community?
Cris: Genuine kindness is key to making a systemic change for the community. To be kind is much easier in concept than it is in practice. Genuine kindness requires self-awareness, mindfulness, empathy, and compassion. When it feels challenging or inconvenient, will you choose the courage to speak up or to remain silent to preserve the status quo? The change will only happen when there are more safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community to express their authentic selves and true allies who will accept them as they are.
NN: What is your motivation? What keeps you going?
Cris: In everything that I do, I am anchored by my purpose and guided by the compass of the heart. During difficult times, I focus on gratitude and remember the reason why I began The Brave Story. All of us face our different battles, but one thing that we have in common is being brave. Finding the courage to keep going and rising above the circumstances beyond our control. The most special feedback to me is how our Kuwago stuffed toy brought a smile to a Ukrainian refugee who received it as a Christmas gift. I cannot imagine the pain of a child whose world was torn apart by chaos and war, but if that Kuwago somehow gave them some comfort, then it was worth creating it. Stories such as this remind me that despite our differences, we are all connected through the heart.
(The Brave Story's products are made from repurposed textiles that are carefully crafted by local artisans. All of their designs are made with love and are produced in limited quantities. They carry a range of sizes to cater to a variety of body shapes, ensuring comfort and functionality in all their garments. Know more here: www.thebravestory.com.ph)