Tradition of Craft
The humble beginnings and fascinating story of a children’s apparel business that started in a home in Bacolod
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 "http://www.anp-philippines.com" www.anp-philippines.com, log on to www.ines-moda-infantil.com, (034) 433-5925, (034) 461- 0308, also available at Crossings
Department Store, Shangri-la EDSA Plaza Mall
Isabel Lovina (left) and
daughter Ines (right)