TASTEMAKERS

Be­ing Born into a fam­ily of ac­com­plished women flush with style and sub­stance might Be a Bur­den to some, But marga han­dles the pres­sure with ef­fort­less grace, elan, and charm.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / APRIL - By Pierre A. Calasanz

Discover the quiet el­e­gance of Marga Valdes-Trinidad and the bold cre­ativ­ity of Tra­cie An­glo-Di­zon.

I’ve been to a lot of wed­dings and have seen a lot of wed­ding videos over the years, but re­cently i stum­bled upon a clip which may be my fa­vorite yet—the one of marga Valdes and her hus­band tJ trinidad. in a span of five min­utes it suc­cinctly nar­rated their love story while the cam­era cap­tured the in­ti­mate, re­laxed el­e­gance of the af­fair held at the Valdes fam­ily com­pound in tagay­tay. it was beau­ti­ful, full of joy, and un­pre­ten­tious. in a nut­shell, just like marga.

we catch up with her at the head­quar­ters of BeaValdes, the highly sought-af­ter fash­ion brand cre­ated by marga’s older sis­ter Bea. lo­cated in a hum­ble, unas­sum­ing com­mu­nity on the out­skirts of the city, the new com­pany of­fice and fac­tory hide from cu­ri­ous eyes be­hind high ivy-cov­ered walls. the bright, airy, and white multi-story struc­ture was mostly con­cep­tu­al­ized by an­other in­flu­en­tial wo­man in marga’s life, her mother Pamela. ask marga about the peo­ple who’ve shaped her life, style, and taste, and she’ll quickly name a few fam­ily mem­bers: “ob­vi­ously, i was re­ally in­flu­enced by Bea, be­cause we spend so much time to­gether, but also by my mother and my grand­mother, fe Panlilio,” she says.

Known as the jeweler of manila so­ci­ety, Panlilio was a true jet­set­ter. “when i was 13, she took me with her on a busi­ness trip to europe. it was just the two of us. she showed me the finer things in life that i could ex­pe­ri­ence if i worked for them. she promised to dou­ble what­ever sav­ings i had left in my pocket af­ter the trip which taught me to spend wisely,” re­calls marga with much ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

a few years af­ter that trip, marga would be liv­ing in europe on her own, as she earned her col­lege de­gree at the amer­i­can univer­sity in Paris, grad­u­at­ing magna cum laude. life on the old con­ti­nent was an­other sig­nif­i­cant char­ac­ter-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “it was sen­sory over­load! the ac­cess, be­ing able to travel across the con­ti­nent so eas­ily and to ex­pe­ri­ence the dif­fer­ent cul­tures, it opened my senses to ev­ery­thing else that was out there. we are quite in­su­lated in manila. if you are 19, liv­ing in Paris, you have no choice but to open your eyes and all your senses.”

af­ter col­lege, marga stayed in europe, but this time in eng­land as she pur­sued a master’s de­gree at the lon­don school of eco­nomics and Po­lit­i­cal science. af­ter grad­u­at­ing again with hon­ors, she found a job as a speech­writer for a Bri­tish peer in the house of lords. But be­fore long, her mother and sis­ter con­vinced her that it was time to come home and join the fam­ily com­pany. in her own words, she’s never looked back.

marga claims she doesn’t have a real job ti­tle (“we just do what needs to be done”) but it’s gen­er­ally un­der­stood that she han­dles the brand’s sales and mar­ket­ing. “once the item is made, i am in charge of it. i have to find its owner. i do a lot of trav­el­ing, and meet with a lot of clients. some clients re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate Bea’s work like art, so they col­lect,” she ex­plains.

Be­yond se­cur­ing wide­spread at­ten­tion and adu­la­tion for the brand, marga also gets a sense of ful­fill­ment from help­ing nu­mer­ous women. marga is proud of the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment they’ve set up, from the fa­vor­able con­di­tions all the way down to the com­pany’s eth­i­cal and sus­tain­able busi­ness prac­tices. “There are a lot of women who work here. and for each wo­man, there are nu­mer­ous fam­ily mem­bers at­tached who ben­e­fit,” she says. “we are em­pow­er­ing the women. They are able to take care of their fam­i­lies, send their kids to school. hope­fully, they are break­ing a cy­cle that they may not have been able to get out of oth­er­wise. it’s not al­ways been easy—we’re tak­ing sure steps, but baby steps.”

as her sis­ter’s num­ber one sup­porter and fan, marga’s pas­sion for Bea’s var­i­ous cre­ations is quite ev­i­dent, though not un­war­ranted. “Bea’s items, they are so amaz­ing that they can’t not be made, not shared with the world. i do feel that,” she gushes. each piece is painstak­ingly hand­made by a highly skilled work­force, and some items are hand-painted by Bea her­self—and if marga has time, she helps too. “more peo­ple have started to re­al­ize that the items are spe­cial—not sim­ply be­cause of the ma­te­ri­als that go into them—but be­cause of the time it takes to make. those fa­mil­iar with our work know this. we must in­still the value of time. that’s the real lux­ury—the time it takes to make some­thing spe­cial.” «

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