The test of a Pinay’s entrepreneurial spirit is when she is taken out of her usual milieu. This is when a new story of self-discovery and new beginnings blossom and flourish. This series of articles aim to feature such inspiring stories which hopefully would provide us with either a familiar scenario that affirms our life lessons or a different perspective on things that we face on a daily basis and at the same time provide mileage for their brand.
For our initial story, meet Aubrey Abanico a fun and vibrant entrepreneurial Pinay who has used her roots to create a livelihood that does not only celebrate her heritage but also pay homage to her surname.
According to Aubrey, she lived like a gypsy with her mom and two siblings moving around different areas in the Philippines. “I went to three different schools before the age of 10 - Batangas, Alabang then Makati,” recounts Aubrey. “There are memories of struggle and anxiety on my part, but growing up in the Philippines for the first 10 years is a blessing and a gift! My immune system is strong and I remember playing so much from morning with the neighbouring kids and coming home, only when it was dinner time. Free play in the Philippines was the best - exciting and scary. Hanging off the jeepney for transportation was my favourite memory,” she continues.
Her mom later on decided to come to Sydney to join the rest of their family for better opportunities. “We never settled in the Philippines but the fun, adventure and survival life lessons were bountiful. When we moved to Australia, we finally dropped in, settled and had a place to call home. Ironically, we moved into a small country town called 'Canowindra' - a Wiradjuri Aboriginal word meaning either 'home' or 'camping place', “Aubrey explains.
Aubrey talks about how her business continues to pay homage to her Pinoy heritage and give back to the community back in the Philippines:
AA: “AbanEco evolved from a simple idea of bringing back an iconic Filipino household item known as the “Banig” – a traditional handwoven mat for sitting or sleeping. My idea is to combine my love and reverence for Mother Earth and my Filipino heritage; to showcase my culture, to celebrate and expose it to the world, all the while producing natural and earth-friendly products.”
“I am passionate about selling things that I resonate with and have meaning for me. The Banig was a big part of my childhood as every afternoon, we would have naps on our Banig, also known as the “Siesta”. I’m keen to bring it to Australia for those who want to feel a sense of home and nostalgia by connecting with the product and having it in their own home.”
AF: What is your inspiration?
AA: “My Filipino Heritage. Anything handcrafted. The weavers. Their craftsmanship. Their stories. The design and the natural materials – even the smell. When I smell Banig, I teleport back into the 80’s, my childhood. Also, many moons ago, I watched a documentary on SBS about the rubbish epidemic in our globe, and the Philippines was one of the biggest contributors to the pollution for such a small country. The Smoky Mountains* shook me to the core and that’s when my journey to become Eco Conscious fundamentally began. I feel better purchasing something when I know who made it, where it came from and how it impacts our environment.”
*Smoky Mountains - Manila's largest dumpsite, where the poorest of the poor make their livelihood by picking up garbage.
AF: What was your inspiration for the name of your business?
AA: “My surname is Abanico. A Spanish word for a hand fan from the Philippines. I played around with the last 3 letters by serendipitously changing the spelling from “ico” to “Eco” and turning it into AbanEco. The stars were most certainly aligned as the backbone of the brand is all about promoting Eco Friendly products. I sell handmade fans too, the “Abaniko” or “Pamaypay” one of my best sellers. Everything just fell into place, perfectly, *cue butterflies fluttering*…”
AF: What makes your business different from other businesses of the same industry
AA: “AbanEco is a voice of Mother Earth, a plastic-free brand, bringing an ethnic flavour of my Filipino heritage with a strong focus on environmental impact. We aim to preserve cultural identity and create business opportunities for the artisans and indigenous weaving community.”
AF: How does it promote the Philippines?
AA: The Weavers are the main characters of the business. We are a lifestyle brand that provides natural products that are ethically handmade, exclusively from the Philippines by local artisans, keeping true to our heritage.”
AF: What should people remember when using your product?
AA: “Our goal is for our consumer to connect with the product. When you buy an AbanEco item, you are essentially voting with your dollar and you’re saying “No” to unnecessary mass production and advocating for conscious living. We cannot be perfect but it's a start to think about the end cycle of your next purchase. We aim to end the use of plastic in products and packaging, use natural materials that are either compostable, biodegradable or recyclable, aligning with the sustainability message. Being fully conscious is the only way we can understand the crisis we are left with.”
One of our brand mantras: “Buy local. Act global.”
AF: How can you be reached?
website - www.AbanEco.com
Instagram - @aban.eco
Facebook - @abaneco
Email - Hello@abaneco.com
Get to know Aubrey through her online shop and tell us what you think. Support our Pinay entrepreneurs!