As a designer, Yvonne believes that design can do good when steered in the right direction — it's what keeps sustainability and renewability pumping in the blood of WoonHung.
WoonHung is my other name — it was given by my grandfather describing the way I was born. When he first saw me, he mistook me for a boy so he hoped that by naming me WoonHung, I would grow up to find the right balance between the masculinity of a man and the femininity of a woman.
WoonHung is fundamentally about thoughtfulness and is created out of love for everlasting, practical, and beautiful design.
As a company, we make deliberate choices to slow down. We prefer to grow steadily and sustainably, being mindful of growth, resources, and the people who work with us.
We also aim to be advocates by practising sustainability by educating customers, reducing waste, reusing materials, and working with the right partners.
One of the partners we work with is Mia Watanabe. We started an ongoing donation drive for people to donate unused stationery and writing materials at our shop. This stationery is then shipped to IloIlo for students in Anecito Panolino Elementary School (APES) to use.
As a small business owner,
My job is to lead a new way forward by spearheading a new business approach. I don’t really see WoonHung as a business but rather, I imagine it to be a future for as many people sharing a common vision to hop onboard. I believe it is possible to run a commercial entity with social good embedded.
It’s not complex to understand but it takes time to build and change fixed mindsets. I think retail is entering a new phase and what we have currently is an outdated retail business model. We need to shake things up and work towards increasing the value chain for both internal and external stakeholders.
I hope I can do a bit of shaking to inspire a new generation. Sometimes I feel like an outsider but maybe that’s a good thing.
Social responsibility is
— above all — about people. It is built on an ecosystem using progressive practices and processes for humankind to thrive as
there is always room to do better and exceed expectations.
Like the belief, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” my company believes that we should always treat all internal stakeholders as important as external stakeholders (clients and customers). We may be small but our efforts are deliberate and intentional.
We must always find win-win situations for everyone including our natural environment so I hope to create a brand culture and ecosystem that treats everyone right in all our endeavours.
Helping cottage industries
When I started WoonHung Natural Collection, it wasn’t about the importance of sustaining cottage industries or preserving a craft. I was fascinated by the materials in Cebu and how talented the artisans are and became obsessed with the endless possibilities of design samples and opportunities.
I gave in to the whims of my buyers without the promise of sizeable orders and none of my efforts improved the livelihood of the artisans I worked with in the end. When one prominent and well respected artisan folded her business, it made me realise that I was doing it all wrong — I should have taken care of the makers more than the clients.
Since then, I have manoeuvred the business by being my own agent instead of depending on “big buyers”. I’ve stopped working with agents who request for samples in order to woo branded retailers as not all sample designs will get orders and as good as 70% or more will go to waste. I focus more on economies of scale to make it worthwhile for my artisans now.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to set up the Essential Extra Gift Shop — it is meant to be a showroom and a different business direction. For this reason, I’m also particular about the preservation of traditional craft and cottage industries as I don’t want to see another artisan calling it quits again. It was one of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt.