Sustainable Business Success: How These Two Girl Bosses Make Six Figures a Month

Rica Borja and Chelsea Tuason share how they found success in their sustainable business selling fabrics and accessories through Lot 26 Fabric and Studio.

Rica Borja and Chelsea Tuason share how they found success in manufacturing sustainable fabrics and accessories with Lot 26 Fabric and Studio.

While the term “ethical fashion” remains largely unheard of, this form of sustainable business has already proven to be a formula for success. Ethical fashion is defined as “the designing and manufacturing of clothes while caring for the people and communities involved in the process, and while also minimizing the impact on the environment.” It might not have reached mainstream popularity just yet, but the market is growing. In fact, the global apparel market share of sustainable clothing items is expected to actually increase to 6.1% in 2026 from 3.9% in 2021. 

Here in the Philippines, there are already numerous businesses that focus on ethical fashion and sustainable clothing. One of these is a sustainable business called Lot 26 Fabric and Studio, which is owned by business partners Rica Borja and Chelsea Tuason. 

Why did they choose to go with a sustainable business model? How did their entrepreneurial journey start? Rica and Chelsea share their answers and their learnings with The Business Manual

sustainable business

When One Business Leads to Another

Friends since they were in high school, Chelsea and Rica initially had separate careers far removed from fashion and manufacturing. Chelsea first worked as a pastry chef in the United States and took over their family restaurant business when she came back home. Rica, on the other hand, worked as a preschool teacher and worked in their family business as well. 

“While working on our respective jobs, we decided to create a brand that will both represent us and our passion for clothing and fashion,” the two girl bosses share. 

They started their first business, clothing brand Artisanat Handmade.

“We did not realize that it would grow and that there would be many opportunities around it,” they admitted. “With our struggles and demands while working on Artisanat, it led us to start Lot 26 Fabric and Studio.” 

Seeing the Opportunities in the Market

Chelsea and Rica’s ambition to make Artisanat Handmade bigger led them to start a manufacturing business that focused on fabrics and accessories. According to the two partners, the rigorous demands of big manufacturing companies, such as high minimum order quantities and limited options, took a toll on them when they first started. 

“Having those setbacks, we started Lot 26 Fabric and Studio with a vision to maximize our social impact and minimize environmental footprint,” Chelsea and Rica say. Lot 26 Fabric and Studio does this by providing easier access to sustainable fabrics and eco-friendly accessories.  

Seeing how small business struggled with the problem of high minimum order quantities, Lot 26 Fabric and Studio opted to offer low minimum order quantities (MOQ) for its customers.

“By setting a low MOQ, we are able to help brands avoid the risk of ordering excessive quantities of products that may not sell as quickly as anticipated,” the owners point out. “This not only reduces the potential for overstocking but also minimizes the amount of waste generated from unsold inventory.”

Chelsea and Rica also saw that options for sustainable fabrics and recycled materials were in short supply in the Philippines. “There may be a few but the supply is very limited to none,” they reveal. 

Because of this, they chose to focus on organic fabrics, 100% sustainable linen, and global recycled standard accessories such as rPET fabrics, buttons, and zippers.

Investing in Lot 26 Fabric and Studio

Without a doubt, Chelsea and Rica had an innovative business idea with Lot 26 Fabric and Studio. Taking the idea and making it a reality, however, proved to be a whole different thing. For starters, the two business partners needed to answer how to finance their new sustainable business venture. 

Initially, the duo relied on the money they were able to save from their previous jobs. Despite the PHP 500,000 capital they raised, they still encountered difficulties.

“One of the challenges we faced in the beginning was a shortage of resources,” they share. “This shortage included lack of staff and financial support.”

“We had difficulty finding enough manpower to keep our workflow stable and meet the industry’s constantly changing demands,” they add. “Additionally, our limited financial resources hindered our ability to streamline operations and forced us to find innovative solutions.” 

To overcome these financial obstacles, Chelsea and Rica decided to apply for a loan. Having enough financial resources eventually allowed them to invest in sewing machines as well as a wide range of fabrics and accessories which they sourced from China and India. 

They also made sure to invest in their sustainable business in other ways, by expanding their knowledge through online courses, and deepening their understanding of the process through firsthand experience.

What It Means To Be a Sustainable Business

At the heart of both Lot 26 Fabric and Studio and even Artisanat Handmade is the concept of sustainability. Lot 26 Fabric and Studio, in particular, aims to provide a consistent supply of environmentally-friendly and certified sustainable products.

“At our one-stop shop, we understand the challenges faced by both starting and established businesses,” Chelsea and Rica explain. “For new businesses, it can be difficult to accurately forecast demand and order the right quantities.”

“This often leads to overstocking and financial strain on the company,” they add. “On the other hand, established businesses may have experienced fluctuations in consumer demand or changes in market trends, resulting in excess inventory that is no longer in demand.”

By offering low minimum order quantity to their clients, this has also become the company’s solution to overstocking and waste. 

Where Sustainable Business Lot 26 Fabric and Studio Can Go from Here

Lot 26 Fabric and Studio has come a long way since its launch in November 2021. It has now become a one-stop shop where clients can simply provide designs and Lot 26 Fabric and Studio will do the rest, from the pattern and sewing to providing sustainable fabric and accessories options.

While the business is now making around PHP 800,000 monthly, what Chelsea and Rica consider as a true testament to their success is when they see their clients’ designs displayed online or in physical stores. 

“We are proud to be a part of their success stories, and we look forward to creating more impactful designs that leave a lasting impression,” they share.  

It’s also a source of pride for these two girl bosses when established designers and brands reach out to them to avail of their services. 

“It is a validation of our expertise and reputation in the industry,” they say. “It shows that our work is respected and trusted by those who have already made a name for themselves.” 

Despite the success they are now experiencing with their business, Chelsea and Rica have more goals and dreams for Lot 26 Fabric and Studio. In fact, their goal for their business is to become the first company in the Philippines to achieve B Corp Certification.

They are also aiming to expand their range of sustainable fabrics and accessories. Additionally, they aim to create more job opportunities and livelihood for Filipinos. 

Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

It may come as a surprise that Chelsea is only 27 years old while Rica is 26 years old, given their achievements and success. In fact, starting at a young age proved to be advantageous for these girl bosses.

“Starting and managing a business at a young age is a transformative experience. It pushes you out of your comfort zone,” they point out. “Plus, it gives us an advantage in being in touch with the latest technologies, the willingness to collaborate and the ideas are fresh and new.” 

They both acknowledge that taking a leap of faith and starting a business in your 20s can be a scary experience. “However, it’s important to remember that growth and success come from taking risks,” Chelsea and Rica share. “You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t take that first step.”

“If there’s something you’ve been wanting to pursue, go for it,” they advise. “Take that leap of faith, embrace the challenges, and enjoy the learning process along the way. You never know where it might take you.”

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