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Narra Wooden Watches are made from natural and eco-friendly materials. Inspired by the Narra tree, the national tree of the Philippines, the company aims to create durable, high-quality, and uniquely Filipino watches. The company aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action and Life on Land.
Product innovation is the foundation of Narra’s creation. In his travels in Europe, founder Kelvin Yu found a watch partly made of wood. When he returned home and wore the watch, he realized there was a potential market for such watches since his friends and peers started complimenting him. Mr. Yu admittedly did not know much about the watch industry and the manufacturing process. “Back then, I had no idea how to make a watch. Through the internet, I learned more about the watchmaking industry and the process behind making watches,” he says. Apart from wanting to create a stylish watch, he also thought of using wood because of its sustainable features. Mr. Yu describes the product: “The watch is made mostly from wood. Every piece is unique since no two pieces are exactly alike. I like wood as a material because it’s more sustainable and renewable.”
The innovation of Narra Wooden Watches centers on two goals. The first is to create unique watches that are proudly Filipino. The company believes that, through its watches, customers can embrace their unique selves, stand out from others, and be proud of Filipino culture. The second is to be stewards of the environment by partaking in the growing consciousness of sustainability. Besides using natural and renewable materials, the company also seeks to show customers what nature offers.
Although Mr. Yu studied accounting, he had no interest in becoming an accountant. "Accountancy is a feasible job, but it was NOT FOR ME," he said. He shared that he is from a Chinese-Filipino community where graduates are expected to either start a business or be a professional in fields such as medicine, law, or accounting. He was exposed to various occupations and professionals from many sectors in business school. He even noticed that those around him were high achievers seeking employment at the best multinational companies. At first, he was also leaning towards working in an international company. Therefore, he tried to boost his credentials by participating in various contests, constantly ranking top of his class, and enrolling in numerous internship programs. He had more internships than his peers, but he never felt that he loved doing them. Mr. Yu said, "I didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything; I never truly enjoyed what I was doing, nor did I think I was doing anything significant. It was simply like I was putting myself into this never-ending cycle where I have to continually work to get money and experience."
Not until Mr. Yu's friend suggested he get in touch with this professor who might be able to help him with his problem. Mr. Yu was even shocked to meet someone at the university who had started his own company rather than joining an FMCG or international company. After being moved by his experience, Mr. Yu decided to follow in his footsteps and depart from his peers. He put up his own more valuable and fulfilling enterprise.
As a strong proponent of self-expression and self-confidence, Mr. Yu discovered that timepieces were a fantastic method for people to express themselves while also doing much more. He stated, "I decided to put up my own wooden watch company because watches not only keep one on track with most things but also allow one to cherish the time one does have. It encourages me to spend my day properly with the people I cherish. For me, watches are one of the most timeless fashion accessories and signature pieces. A watch instantly adds an elevated twist to any look, becoming a piece that is synonymous with someone's style. Something that can make and allow someone to feel more confident per se".
Mr. Yu also shared that even in elementary school, he was interested in sustainability-related themes and projects. "I even won a bronze medal for my investigatory project back (in grade 7) on renewable energy. Thus, I was certain that if I wanted to put up my own business, it would be sustainable and revolved on giving back to the environment," he mentioned. With that, the birth of Narra Wooden Watches, where he wanted to emphasize the creative use of rare and all-natural materials to produce beautiful and distinctive products.
Additionally, he wanted to make his customers feel special and different. Hence he decided to create watches from Narra wood/tree, symbolizing durability, quality, sophistication, and a unique Filipino spirit. Mr. Yu said, "Watches can be worn anywhere and for any occasion, but wearing Narra Wooden Watches is a way to show the world that you are a proud Filipino and someone who champions the notion of using only natural resources to make something attractive and different."
Mr. Yu drew inspiration from his trip abroad when he purchased a wooden watch from one of the souvenir shops. When he returned to the Philippines, his peers took notice of his new watch and complimented him. “If only there were something like that in the Philippines, I’d buy one too,” they said.
This experience provided Mr. Yu with a business opportunity because he realized that the product was uncommon in the Philippines, and there was a potential market opportunity based on the support and reaction of his peers. It was unique since he never saw anything like it in the country. This sparked the creation of his vision towards a future in the watch industry in the Philippines, igniting innovation at the heart of a sustainable business.
As an environmental advocate, Mr. Yu asked, “What else can I do to make this business more sustainable?” This commitment led to a partnership with One Tree Planted, a non-governmental tree-planting organization inclined to restore and rebuild Mother Nature through reforestation. Today, more than 400 trees have been planted in the country.
Apart from that, the company has also committed to planting one tree for every sale. Mr. Yu further extends his advocacy to his customers and society. He says: “I also wanted to find ways to encourage people to live a greener lifestyle, so I include thank you cards for every purchase with plantable seeds in them.” Narra Wooden Watches hopes to inspire others to appreciate agriculture through this initiative. Moreover, the company has participated in various donation projects in partnership with other NGOs like Jeepney Stop and LinkUP. They have also made an effort to include society in their vision and goal by encouraging others to donate what they can to these projects.
Mr. Yu emphasizes his dedication to a cause. He wants to draw attention to the creative use of rare, all-natural materials to create aesthetically pleasing and distinctive products while remaining sustainable and environmentally benign. The Narra Wooden Watches highlight its qualities since Narra stands for the unique character of the Filipino people, which increases Filipino pride when wearing one of the watches. This demonstrates how a Filipino's innovation will pique the curiosity of others as it has market potential.
As Mr. Yu learned that the timepiece had a substantial market potential with various aspects, Narra was given new life through peer encouragement and feedback. Mr. Yu was motivated by something he discovered about how timepieces influence people's self-confidence and how they express themselves through watches. The Narra Company's motivation drives them to be unique in pursuing the goal of the watch industry in the Philippines and providing innovation in wood skills crafts and sustainable business.
Watches are always a good choice, especially if they hold a special significance for the wearer. The goal of Narra Wooden Watches was to demonstrate to the world how the product is classic and elegant enough to display the woodworking skills of the Narra community. The watches' handcrafted nature shows how they can be handled daily. The business wanted to promote the idea of embracing one's individuality to make the most of Filipino fashion by displaying a product that is proudly made in the Philippines.
Narra Watches strives to produce something unique and stylish using natural materials. The fact that it is almost entirely made of wood does not detract from its overall quality. The brand's team ensures that it remains durable and sophisticated — just like the Philippines' Narra Tree, demonstrating the environmental benefits of using Narra wooden.
Moreover, Narra Wooden Watches is a passion project officially launched in the Philippines on February 1, 2019, out of a desire to stand out and be unique. By creating our stylish wooden watches, the entrepreneurs hope to highlight the use of unconventional, natural materials to create something beautiful and special. The young entrepreneurs wanted to highlight the Philippines' one-of-a-kind wood source, which resulted in a beautiful piece. As a result of wood skill and inspiration, Narra Wooden Watch created a timeless piece that Pinoy pride made.
The way Narra envisions a greener lifestyle for the entire community is something to look forward to. Regarding the wood materials used, it is something to give back to the environment. The company made an effort to incorporate society in its vision and aims by asking other environmental communities and businesses to donate to the project Narra intended to develop after partaking in numerous donation campaigns in collaboration with NGOs.
Furthermore, Narra collaborated with one tree-planting organization to donate a portion of their profits to reforestation and tree-planting efforts in the Philippines. Deforestation is a major environmental issue in the Philippines, contributing to carbon emissions and exacerbating climate change. Natural forests in the Philippines are also home to many unique and native species of animals and plants. Narra believes it is part of its responsibility as a sustainable fashion brand to give back and contribute to reforestation, as society has benefited from its efforts in this beautiful country.
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Kelvin Yu, Founder/CEO
Based in the Philippines, Narra Wooden Watches creates unique, stylish, and sustainable watches made from natural wooden materials. The company aims to highlight the creative use of unconventional and renewable materials to produce items that can be beautiful and unique. They contribute to sustainability awareness by creating wooden timepieces utilizing sustainable and natural materials. Additionally, they have contributed a portion of their profits through the years to projects that support other advocacy groups and reforestation efforts to protect the environment. Through the materials they use, Narra creates unique and innovative products.