Creative so­lu­tions

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - FEATURE -

Al­beit a cliché, Mele­cio Donato Oamil and Rose­marie Al­mayda-Oamil from the Philip­pines are shin­ing ex­am­ples of a hus­band-and-wife who has with­stood the test of time by stick­ing it out to­gether through the thick-and-thin — and come up with creative so­lu­tions.

Such a creative so­lu­tion hap­pened in the late 1990s.

Mele­cio—a grad­u­ate of In­dus­trial Ed­u­ca­tion Ma­jor in Elec­tric­ity (the flu­o­res­cent and in­can­des­cent lights, the “peo­ple in­side the portable ra­dio and the TV set, among oth­ers mes­merised him since child­hood) at the Cen­tral Lu­zon State Univer­sity in agri­cul­tural Ca­banat­uan, Nueva Ecija—was then teach­ing trade and par­tic­u­larly the “elec­tri­cal as­pects in wiring di­a­grams and tech­ni­cal draw­ing at the Mer­alco Foun­da­tion in Pasig City, Metro Manila.

Rose­marie was an em­ployee too, pur­su­ing her Masters in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion at the pres­ti­gious De La Salle Univer­sity in Manila. She was also heavy with her first preg­nancy and lo, a few days af­ter de­liv­ery, their daugh­ter, Han­nah, was found to need open heart surgery.

She talked to her pro­fes­sor: “I told him I could not see my­self in a ca­reer any longer though I wanted to travel around the world. On the on­set I needed huge amount of money for (Han­nah’s con­di­tion.)”

Her pro­fes­sor’s re­sponse: “Maybe you could start a busi­ness; fash­ion ac­ces­sories be­cause you do not need big cap­i­tal.” Why not?

With Mele­cio’s back­ground and ex­per­tise in the trade—since child­hood he did not see him­self fol­low­ing the foot­steps of the farm­ing com­mu­nity around him— they took the plunge—of go­ing into busi­ness as they also had by then the ex­pe­ri­ence of set­ting up small cart shops in baratil­los (flea mar­ket-type) sell­ing wood­crafts and other nov­elty items from Paete, La­guna.

Mele­cio and Rose­marie had the op­por­tu­nity to meet Lorenzo Sarmiento, among the men be­hind then Pres­i­dent Fidel V. Ramos.

“He men­tored us,” re­lated Mele­cio.

That men­tor­ing took them to all the fash­ion/fur­ni­ture/fur­nish­ings de­sign cen­tres in the Philip­pines, not to for­get the pre­mier Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Trade and Ex­po­si­tions of Manila’s Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try.

They joined trips to the fash­ion cap­i­tals of the world namely Paris (“fash­ion in­no­va­tion is al­ways two years in ad­vance in this city”), New York and Hong Kong.

Nine­teen years hence since 1999—af­ter go­ing through some non-ac­cep­tance even in the Philip­pines—and hav­ing be­come the cou­ple be­hind the cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tion of un­branded eco-friendly bags and fash­ion ac­ces­sories for the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket—some with well-es­tab­lished fash­ion houses— Mele­cio and Rose­marie are now reap­ing what they had sown.

Hus­band-and-wife has slowly but surely made a name through their 100 per cent care­fully-hand­made Melle & Marie brand de­ter­minedly set up in 2012.

It was a con­se­quence of the world fi­nan­cial de­ba­cle ear­lier on.

It was an even­tu­al­ity of them hav­ing gone through the ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing been con­de­scended upon be­cause they are Filipinos from a Third World coun­try who could not come up with world-class goods and prod­ucts.

Deep in­side, Mele­cio who had be­come a reg­is­tered over­seas Filipino worker (OFW) in Italy, thought: “We are all chil­dren of God. God created us all so we also have op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Hus­band-and-wife is now among the many Filipino ex­porters from Cebu with their own fac­tory and their own pro­duc­tion peo­ple com­posed of metal-smiths and other ar­ti­sans.

Mele­cio said: “The eco-friendly trend has been there since 1999. Peo­ple have be­come so con­scious of (the bru­tal­ity against an­i­mals).”

“Per­son­ally, for us, the best is to go for the waste of all kinds of seashells and the mother-of-pearl. We use used chicken wire when we sam­ple our bags.”

The trades­man-turned-fash­ion de­signer/pro­duc­tion line boss said it takes three days to fin­ish a metal bag of 24-carat gold-plated/rose gold-plated/sil­ver-plated brass ma­te­rial.

All fash­ion ac­ces­sories are in 24-carat gold-plated/rose gold­plated/sil­ver-plated brass and metal.

Re­stro­spec­tive-ly, Mele­cio and Rose­marie are grate­ful to God who had sent them one “des­ti­tute man” at a Hong Kong trade fair.

Rose­marie shared: “Melle was in Italy at that time try­ing to work his life as an OFW. I was at this trade show and came a pen­ni­less man whom ev­ery­one ig­nored. I en­ter­tained him and I be­came ner­vous when he called some­one on his mo­bile phone and came two well-dressed men. Then came an­other two and I thought they were go­ing to copy our prod­ucts or they would con me.”

Lo to her big shock, this “des­ti­tute man” was a wealthy Korean Amer­i­can from New York. The four guys were his staff.

The ini­tial or­der was worth $70,000. “He gave us the chance,” said Rose­marie from the re­cent In­dex Trade Fair at the Dubai World Trade Cen­tre.

From Dubai, which they con­sid­ered “promis­ing and a big op­por­tu­nity” for two con­sec­u­tive years now, hus­band-and-wife was pre­par­ing for their next in­ter­na­tional trade show in Paris.

MELLE & MARIE, A BRAND SET UP BY A COU­PLE IN 2012, CRE­ATES ECO-FRIENDLY BAGS AND FASH­ION AC­CES­SORIES . MARIECAR JARA-PUYOD MET THEM AT THE IN­DEX TRADE FAIR HELD IN DUBAI WORLD TRADE CEN­TRE

Mele­cio Donato Oamil and Rose­marie Al­mayda-Oamil

Pho­to­graphs: Ka­mal Kas­sim

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