Tra­di­tion of Craft

The humble be­gin­nings and fas­ci­nat­ing story of a chil­dren’s ap­parel busi­ness that started in a home in Ba­colod

Cebu Living - - Personality - By Dianne Pineda

There are a few spe­cial mo­ments and things about a child that most moms hold dear to their hearts—a child’s rst steps, rst word, and per­haps a child’s rst dress. Is­abel Valles Lovina wanted to nd the per­fect dress for her daugh­ter Ines, but couldn’t nd the right one in their home­town, Ba­colod. In uenced by her grand­mother who is from Barcelona, Spain, Is­abel had a fond­ness for hand-smocked tra­di­tional Span­ish and Euro­pean-in­spired dresses, which she and the other kids wore in her day. She wanted one for Ines that was cus­tom­ized, and at the same time, she wanted to do some­thing new, so she de­cided to hire a sewer. Then she hired an­other one, and started VICMIK En­ter­prises, a com­pany that makes hand-smocked and han­dem­broi­dered chil­dren’s ap­parel. It is named after Is­abel’s hus­band Vi­cente and her son Mikel, with the chil­dren’s cloth­ing line named Ines Moda In­fan­til. “A few months after I started, I brought some sam­ples to a depart­ment store in Ba­colod. From there, I moved to sam­pling in a depart­ment store in Manila. For years, we re­tailed the clothes through my sis­ters who were in Manila and sold the dresses from home,” Is­abel shares.

A promis­ing be­gin­ning

Is­abel estab­lished a chil­dren’s dress shop in 1982 in Ubay, Pulu­pan­dan and be­came one of the rst mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ne­gros Pro­duc­ers (ANP). From a fair that ANP or­ga­nized, she met a buyer from the US who ex­pressed in­ter­est in her clas­sic chil­dren’s clothes. The rest, as they say, is his­tory. Start­ing as a small home busi­ness with two sew­ers, VICMIK even­tu­ally grew into a big US ex­port ven­ture, now with a fac­tory and more than a hun­dred em­ploy­ees. Is­abel says, “I never imag­ined that I would end up in this type of busi­ness; in fact, any busi­ness. I was a teacher be­fore I moved to Ba­colod so I had no back­ground in ac­count­ing or busi­ness man­age­ment.”

More than busi­ness

About 14 years later, Ines Moda In­fan­til is still thriv­ing, now o er­ing a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts that in­clude not only rst com­mu­nion dresses, bap­tismal gowns, and for­mal wear for lit­tle girls, but also a line of ca­sual wear and suits for boys called Munescos. At 61, Is­abel is more in­volved in VICMIK’S nance man­age­ment. “At this point in my life, I am slowly do­ing less. I have learned to del­e­gate be­cause I want to em­power the man­agers and su­per­vi­sors. Pro­duc­tion is run by a very e cient sta ,” she says.

But more than her pas­sion for cre­at­ing chil­dren’s clothes that can be passed down from one gen­er­a­tion after an­other, Is­abel says that what keeps her go­ing is “pro­vid­ing a source of liveli­hood to a lot of peo­ple.” Her jour­ney from be­ing a mom who only wanted the best for her child to be­ing a busi­ness­woman has made her dis­cover a lot about her­self. She ends, “It has shown me a side of my­self that I never thought ex­isted. It has made me a more con dent in­di­vid­ual, and has al­lowed me to work with peo­ple from di er­ent back­grounds. It has taught me pa­tience and com­pas­sion.”

Avail­able at ANP Show­room, C. Build­ing, Lac­son St., Ba­colod City (034) 434-1000, HYPER­LINK "", log on to www.ines-moda-in­fan­, (034) 433-5925, (034) 461- 0308, also avail­able at...

Is­abel Lovina (left) and daugh­ter Ines (right)

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