BAYAMBANG, Pangasinan – A clothes reworking hobby of an 18-year-old ‘fashionista’ in this town is now augmenting the medical needs of her mother as she turned it into a business. Jannah Mae De Vera recreates clothes she bought from ‘ukay-ukay’ (pre-loved items) shops into fashionable items as she supports sustainable fashion, and sells them online. “Nag-umpisa po akong gumawa ng sarili kong designs sa mga ukay-ukay na mga damit tapos napansin ng mga pinsan ko na magaganda ang mga designs ko at sinabihan ako na magbenta. ‘Yong mga una kong mga designs tinahi ko lang sa kamay kaya nag-ipon muna ako para makabili ng makina (I started my own designs reworking on pre-loved clothing and my cousins noticed that my designs are good and encouraged me to sell my works. My first works were only hand-sewn so I saved up so I could buy my own sewing machine),” she said in an interview over the weekend. De Vera said she asked her parents for a small amount from the income of their sari-sari store, which was put up with the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as she was identified as part of a program for child laborers in the country. “When I was still a minor, I used to assist my cousin who worked at an ukay-ukay shop. Since I am inclined to fashion, my cousin asked me to assist customers in finding their choice of clothing, but DOLE intervened and instead gave my parents capital to start a small business,” she added. DOLE’s project aims to contribute to the prevention and elimination of child labor by providing families of kid laborers access to decent livelihood opportunities for enhanced income. Most interventions include counseling by their respective Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and livelihood assistance through DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP)-KASAMA (Kabuhayan para sa Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa) project.
De Vera said she used part of the money she asked from her parents to resell cellular phone cases, a part-time business that enabled her to raise the needed money to buy a sewing machine. She then bought a second-hand sewing machine that she scouted from Facebook. “Natuto po akong manahi sa YouTube saka nakita ko sa Tiktok ‘yong ad tungkol sa sustainable fashion. Umattend po ako ng Zoom meeting tungkol sa sustainable fashion at easy dressmaking. Natuto din ako ng easy stitches at reworking. (I learned to sew through YouTube and I saw an advertisement on Tiktok about sustainable fashion. I attended the Zoom meeting about sustainable fashion and easy dressmaking. I also learned easy stitches and reworking),” she said. She sold her first collection that was launched last November through social media with 30 reworked clothes including crop tops, skirts, among others She then moved her business to Instagram to reach a broader market. De Vera is now working on her ninth collection as the release of her latest collection was delayed because of the hospitalization of her mother. “Nagda-dialysis na po si Mama at last month, naospital siya at ako po ang nagbantay sa kanya. ‘Yong kita po ng aking business ay nakakadagdag po sa pagpapa dialysis ni Mama. (My mother is undergoing dialysis and last month, she was hospitalized and I was the one who looked after her in the hospital. The earnings from my business augment my mother’s dialysis sessions),” she said. Her clothes sell from PHP100 to PHP490 depending on the design and material. De Vera said she sometimes puts her clothes on sale to easily raise an amount for her mother’s dialysis. De Vera said her family supports her business as her father, who is now 66 years old, serves as her driver when she goes around town or neighboring towns in search of good pre-loved clothes to be reworked on, while her eldest sister and brother market her products and her mom helps her in packaging the ordered items.
Despite being into fashion, she will pursue a nursing course as she enters freshman year in college this year. De Vera’s online shop on Instagram, Tropical Vintage (tropicalvntg.ph), now has 2,550 followers, while she recently shipped her product to the United States. (PNA)