Keep this story going! Share below!
In the Philippines, there are numerous types of weaving, and each region is proud of its own distinctive cloth and weaving patterns. For most weavers, the use of color, symbolism, and sophisticated movements of their fingers is deeply ingrained in their culture and family history. While the rest of the world is closely associated with fast fashion, weavers maintain these traditions alive by creating beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Habi is a Tagalog word that refers to the weaving process. By combining it with the word "daily," Daily Habi wishes it to be a daily woven wear, particularly for working professionals. They are committed to achieving SDG 8 and SDG 5, which promote entrepreneurship and women's empowerment.
Jennelaine “Jen” Dingalan, the co-founder of Daily Habi, is an aspiring young enabler and an advocate for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) development and women’s economic empowerment. She is currently a consultant for UN Women WeEmpowerAsia, where she works on Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community.
She was appointed to the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship’s executive committee as its youngest member in 2019. An NGO that promotes entrepreneurship to alleviate poverty in the Philippines. She pioneered nationwide innovative programs that provided mentorship, market, and funding to thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
Her work with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-Go Negosyo opened doors to working with business leaders, top conglomerates, and government agencies. Her advocacy for entrepreneurship inspired her to launch her own venture, Daily Habi, a clothing brand that promotes Philippine cultural weaves and supports local livelihoods and Filipino craftsmanship.
Due to their shared passion for advocacy and the arts, Jen and her partner, Miguel, took a chance on their shared interest in Habi, the Philippines’ locally woven textiles. However, mainstream brands’ craftsmanship carries a heavy price tag for young professionals. Jen revealed that one of their date nights included a discussion about how they were influenced and inspired by respected people to promote this proud Filipino weaving culture.
They were exposed to various stories of dreams through Habi in various provinces. During their visit to Benguet, they met a mother who aspires to have two successful college graduates, and they learned about 25 years of 8-hour shifts that produce 5-7 yards of woven culture.
“Our long journeys led us to transform the jacket and shirt into special professional garments that carry a piece of every culture and dream we have witnessed.”
The founders of Daily Habi saw a need for affordable weave among young professionals and came up with a value proposition: an ethnic weave on professional clothing at a reasonable price point. With encouraging feedback from colleagues and friends, they have made it their mission to share an affordable and accessible moment of inspiration combined culture and profession. This is how their brand, Daily Habi, became a reality.
By combining traditional weave with modern clothing—accessible and affordable to everyday Filipino professionals—Daily Habi celebrates Philippine local weave and empowers local weavers. Their tagline #WeavingFilipinoDreams serves as a platform for all working professionals’ stories and aspirations.
All photos are provided by Jen Dingalan and Daily Habi
“I have big dreams. I dream of a Philippines where Filipinos are not forced to leave their home in the service of other families for money, where parents do not fall out of love in exchange for food and education, and where children do not get stripped off of time and guidance from their own parents.”
It was 23 years ago when Jen’s mother left them to work overseas that inspired Jen to start her own business. She recalls how her parents “lived paycheck to paycheck,” Her mother worked as a hairdresser in a small salon, and her father waged cockfights in between jobs. Working abroad seemed to be her mother’s only way out of poverty and unemployment at the time. As a result, Jen believed that her mother would not have been forced to leave her home and spend years away from her were it not for the lack of a thriving community back at home.
Jen devoted herself to promoting inclusive economic empowerment opportunities for Filipinos, particularly Filipinos working abroad and women in the Philippines.
“The common mindset of Filipinos is that greener pastures can only be seen outside the country. But if we only have the courage and conviction to water our lawn. We will realize that the grass can also be greener at home.”
Fast fashion has inexorably affected the environment, society, and, most especially, culture. The industry’s focus on low prices has reduced the value on the effort and craftsmanship placed on each piece. The mass production of “weaves” or print derivatives lessened the story and meaning behind each culturally rich piece by making it seem as a simple fashion design. The less emphasis on the context behind the weaves possess a threat to the longstanding and diverse weaving traditions, making the intangible Filipino peoples’ weaving cultural heritage endangered.
The Filipino people preferring global over local brands further increases this problem. However, challenges in the pandemic urged a shift in consumer behavior. Consumers are now more willing to support local businesses, especially MSMEs, and the founders of Daily Habi see this as an opportunity to ignite the Filipino Entrepreneurial spirit. To this day, Daily Habi has aimed to make cultural and professional insights available to everyone at an affordable price. Having worked in the developmental sector, the founders have seen how entrepreneurship and successful partnerships among the public and private sectors can create sustainable development and inclusive growth in the lives of MSMEs in the country.
Daily Habi was able to empower local weavers and help keep the Filipino textile culture alive. Being fully locally sourced and made, they are able to support the livelihood of Filipino craftsmanship, especially during the pandemic. Driven by the passion to fill the gap between expensive Habi-made clothing and price-sensitive young working consumers, they were able to support SDG 8 and SDG 5 by promoting entrepreneurship and empowerment of women. As most of the Habi weavers are women, Daily Habi is able to create more opportunities for these women to showcase their talent and earn a living. Daily Habi has partnered with Easter Weaving in Baguio and was able to provide income to 15 weavers, especially during the pandemic, which has helped their families survive the difficult time. In the long run, Daily Habi aims to adapt more communities of weavers from different regions such as Ilocos and Mindanao. They also provide entrepreneurial and creative mentorship and assist in the education of the children of their partners.
This is Jen's advice to anyone interested in starting a business: “Start now! Think of something you love doing and turn it into a business idea. You may also think of a gap that you can fill. Ask yourself, What problem and pain point do you want to solve in the world?”
Building a business in the pandemic was a huge learning curve for the new entrepreneur that Jen was. Strong support from their friends, mentors, and community was key to the success of the company. The tailors and weavers they work with made their vision into a reality - partner tailors from Quezon City, and production partners from Laguna and Manila. The business grew since most of its customers, wanting to showcase Filipino pride and support for Filipino enterprises without breaking the bank, uses their clothing for virtual meetings and events. The business now has customers that are not just young working professionals, but they also cater to TV personalities, industry leaders, public officials, and more. Additionally, creating fashionable facemasks that match their pieces became more relevant and became crucial for the continuity of their business during these difficult times. With strict and unpredictable Covid-19 safety measures taking place, such as lockdowns, it became more challenging to continue with operations. Daily Habi was temporarily put on hold. However, the founders found an opportunity in digital consulting, which makes use of their strong entrepreneurial and professional background, which became their bread and butter. With the easing of lockdown and strict protocols, Daily Habi is looking forward to better days ahead and thinking of new ways to expand its business. “As we align with our goal to reach more and wider markets, we also acknowledge the fact that we need to also make casual wears for the general public for example.” Through these experiences, Jen advises, “Be resilient. Things will not always favor you, but you just have to keep going. Enjoy the journey!”
The traditional Filipino-made woven textiles are often found in remote and provincial areas in the Philippines. Through Daily Habi, Jen and her partner became advocates of “Habi.” This gives Filipino weavers a platform to make their crafts known and reach a much bigger market. To show how important it is to the company, aside from being the founder of Daily Habi, Jen is also the Chief Weave Advocate of the company. Through interviews that Jen had, she always advocates local Habi and has made it more known to people which she now considers her mission. “The business started from the frustration of not being able to afford clothes made of Habi as young professionals. Along the way, the business became more of a mission to introduce “Habi” to more people and the younger generation.”
The fashion industry is a sector with a very high impact on society, may it be environmental or social. Its supply chain is recognized as one of the most polluting sectors. It is no wonder that the fashion industry is one of the industries that is highly being challenged when it comes to sustainability. Daily Habi becomes a part of the solution to this problem by making sure that no excess material comes to waste. As Jen said, “Aside from providing decent work and economic empowerment to our partners, we also practice responsible consumption by making masks during the pandemic and incorporating the scraps into our boxes. We respect how difficult it was to create the Habi, and it is a waste to scrap them. “
With the goal of becoming an internationally recognized brand that champions Filipino heritage, Daily Habi helps build the dreams of women local weavers and small-town tailors by featuring more handcrafted cultural weaves.
Get stories of positive business innovations from around the world delivered right to your inbox.
Jennelaine “Jen” Dingalan, Co-founder, Chief Weave Advocate
Daily Habi is a clothing brand that incorporates traditional weaves into modern clothing, championing Philippine cultural weaves and supporting the local livelihoods of Filipino artisans. They are committed to achieving SDG 8 and SDG 5, which promote entrepreneurship and women's empowerment. It enables their partners to earn a living and provide for their families.