Business for Good: 7 Entrepreneurs Who Own Sustainable Brands

Founded on a dream for a better future, these young visionaries make a positive impact on their customers and the planet through their sustainable brands.

In the Philippines, there are about 31.4 million young adults who fall between the ages of 15 to 30 years old. What’s more, 90.9% of young people are employed, which goes to show that the youth employment rate has highly improved in the country. But even with the big improvement based on these numbers, it still doesn’t cover the fact that employment is still challenging for some people. 

With that in mind, some young entrepreneurs set out to open their own businesses in order to give these people livelihood opportunities. And guided by their value for sustainability, these individuals founded their businesses on sustainable products, which will not just benefit the economy, but the environment as well.

The best part? This business approach aligns with their principles, given that young people have a higher tendency to be more eco-friendly with around 58% of core millennials (aged 27 to 32) and older Gen Zs (aged 23 to 26) agreeing that they consider sustainability while shopping

Bearing these in mind, these young entrepreneurs came up with sustainable products that Filipinos can use in their everyday lives. Here are some notable ones to watch out for.

7. Alyssa Lagon of Tela

Alyssa Lagon is the brains behind Tela—a brand that she established in 2019 when she was just 19 years old at that time. Founded on the principle that fashion meets sustainability, her business turns fabric scraps into sustainable fashion pieces. What’s more, she provides livelihood opportunities to people.

As the daughter of Leo and Anna Lagon, Co-CEOs and the Creative Director of Bayo respectively, she isn’t new to the fashion industry. After completing short courses at the London College of Fashion’s University of the Arts, she also took up Communications Technology Management student at Ateneo, where she learned how she can start her own fashion brand.

How does her business practice sustainability? For one thing, she takes the scrap pieces of fabric from the Bayo factory and uses them for her own products. 

Breathable jumpsuits from Tela MNL are made from fabrics with natural or recycled fibers. Photo credits: Tela MNL

6. Pocholo Espina of Sip PH

Pocholo Espina conceptualized Sip PH during his last year of college when he learned that the Philippines ranked third on the plastic pollutants in the world. This, paired with fond travel experiences that have made him see the beauty of the environment, he found ways to live a sustainable lifestyle that can inspire others—through reusables.

Starting his business with 3,000 metal straws and brushes that he purchased abroad and pouches that were ordered locally in 2016, he got his big break when he posted an ad on Ateneo Trade, a buy-and-sell Facebook group for Atenean college students.

The brand grew exponentially and was even noticed by the non-profit organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), along with some local celebrities. To date, his brand offerings have expanded to offer not just metal straws, but other reusable utensils, as well. 

5. Cleo Loque of Hiraya Pilipina

Cleo Loque—now 19 years old—started Hiraya Pilipina when she was just 15. And although her brand started in 2019, she found success in 2020 when she could balance her business with her schoolwork. 

During the earlier days of Hiraya Pilipina, the brand was focused on producing statement shirts, sustainable bags, and even reusable masks. Though they still offer the same products to date, the brand has focused more on promoting women’s intimate care by introducing Nipple Pasties (nipple tapes), boob tapes, and hair removers. 

As a young entrepreneur, content creator, and student of Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship at Enderun Colleges, she looks forward to growing her brand with more products in the future. 

Hiraya Pilipina aims for inclusivity which will make all of its customers feel comfortable in their own skin. Photo credits: Hiraya Pilipina

4. Adrienne Charuel of Maison Métisse

Adrienne Charuel studied Fashion Design at École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode (ESMOD), Paris and moved to New York afterwards. From there, she learned more about the Zen-based weaving style—thus inspiring her to try different crafts. 

When she returned to the Philippines, she took the opportunity to work with local weavers who materialized her vision of celebrating the country’s local heritage. Thus, Maison Métisse was born.

As a proud advocate of ethical and sustainable fashion, the brand uses local textiles for its apparel. But beyond clothes, the brand also offers face masks from pineapple cotton fabric (pinya) and hand-embroidered bags by the Philippine Itneg Tribe.

Adrienne Charuel poses with Maison Métisse products that were carefully woven and embroidered by local artisans. Photo credits: Maison Métisse

3. Anne Krystle Yee of Jacinto and Lirio

Anne Yee—together with her co-founders—came up with the idea of using Philippine indigenous materials during their college days, as they believed that the potential for using local resources hasn’t been fully tapped yet. Since one of her colleagues had connections with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), they were advised to look into using water hyacinths—one of the problems that the country faced at the time. 

After further research, they discovered that water hyacinths can be transformed and marketed as plant leather. This led to the birth of their business: Jacinto and Lirio, which literally translates to “Hyacinth and Lily”. With their brand, Yee and her friends were able to convert these water pests and turn them into eco-friendly and sustainable leather goods. 

Jacinto & Lirio’s customizable vegan leather goods such as ID lace, trinket holder, phone case, passport holder, purse, and wallet. Photo credits: Jacinto & Lirio

2. Dominique Sevilla of EcoNest PH

Dominique “Nikki” Sevilla once joined a bazaar that banned the use of plastic bags, which led her to look for eco-friendly packaging materials. To her dismay, she found out that most “eco” products still incorporated plastic in some ways. And so, with her partner Joshua Caampued, she researched on possible innovations they can make. 

Together, they came up with cassava bags that dissolve in hot water, sugarcane bagasse containers, and bamboo cups under the brand EcoNest PH.

As a supplier of eco-friendly packaging solutions for brands who want to start being sustainable, they are now the leading distributor of these eco-friendly packaging solutions, as they now supply over 1,000 companies who are just as passionate as they are about protecting the planet. 

1. Leandro Leviste of Solar Philippines

During his second and third years studying politics at Yale, Leandro Leviste saw a pain point in the Philippines that he wanted to address: the high electricity rates that Filipinos had to endure. Thus, at the age of 20, he invested in Tesla and Solar City, which are both manufacturers of solar panels.

He brought the idea of Solar Philippines to SM Prime Holdings, impressing the company’s Chairman Hans T. Sy himself. Fast forward to 2014, Leviste’s company finished the installation of solar panels in SM North EDSA—making it the largest solar-powered mall rooftop in the world. 

To date, he already has several clients and he continues to look forward to the day when more Filipinos can adapt to this green solution that not only costs less but also makes the Philippines better. 

These are just some of the young entrepreneurs who continuously pave the way for sustainability in the country. Through these stories, we hope that more and more Filipinos can start sustainable businesses of their own—which will be beneficial for our environment and economy in the years to come. 

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