From bits to pieces: making an impact with Neil & Marter’s handmade wearable art

Neil & Marter aims to influence people in supporting the slow and ethical fashion movement through handcrafted accessories using upcycled materials. The brand is launching a crowdfunding campaign to introduce a limited-edition collection together with artisans from Marikina City

A startup fashion brand proves that it’s possible to be socially and environmentally responsible in a fast fashion-driven world.

Neil & Marter was born out of curiosity and environmental wellness by interior designer Mark Boni Marter and aspiring fashion designer Neil Capistrano.

It started with the abundance of scrap materials from Bon’s interior design studies. Conscious of how fashion waste hurts the planet, they thought of maximizing the use of oddments of genuine vegan leather and fabrics to create wearable art.

Armed with basic leather crafting tools and techniques, the creative duo produced their first batch as gifts to family members  “At first, I wanted to craft everyday accessories like bags, wallets, and cardholders out of Bon’s luxury leather collection,” Neil shares. “One day, my mom requested a pair of earrings for her, my aunts, and cousins. We had fun with the learning process and ended up making 25 pairs.” 

This led them to venture into an ethical fashion social enterprise that caters to modern and eco-conscious fashionistas who value the origin and process behind the brands and products that they support.

While they have different art styles, Neil and Bon share their love for personal self-expression through ethical fashion, making a positive impact on the environment, and a strong desire to create opportunities for the local crafting community.

Bon explains, “I’m into modern pop art, art deco, and abstract while Neil likes contemporary art and minimalism. At Neil & Marter we infuse our preferences with architectural details and symbolic representations of cultural diversity. We conceptualize and execute designs ourselves, handcrafting each one with care.”

“Being mindful in using leather and fabric scraps is one of our core values,” adds Neil. “People throw away the excess or off-cuts but we save every bit and try to incorporate it in our future designs. This extends to our choice of hang tags and packaging.”

Their three collections of artful dangles feature food and pop culture references: Whimsical (Kabuki- & Oblina-inspired), Juvenescence (Legos and Rubix cube), and Food for the Soul (breakfast food items and fruits). These unconventional but chic pieces caught the attention of fashion editors from various publications, social media influencers, as well as ANC’s On The Money Entrep Lab.

The brand is currently expanding its product line with mixed medium repurposed accessories of patchworks, geometric bags, and wearable art shoes. The Cattle’s Cradle collection will be launched and exclusively available for purchase through a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign on the Spark Project website starting October 28, 2020. The items will be produced in collaboration with women artisans of Marikina City who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with campaign supporters receiving their limited edition pieces by December 2020.

Beyond the aesthetic statement products, Neil & Marter strives to redesign how people think about fashion, renew the appreciation for our local makers, and restore people’s confidence in self-expression. They are in the business of saving the earth (and the creative industry), one piece at a time.

Find @neilmarter on Facebook and Instagram.

Spread the sweet goodness of Kica Bites cookies

A little bit of sweetness can go a long way, wouldn’t you agree?

A little bit of a warm hug, a little bit of a winsome smile, a little bit of a happy thought… All these are little bits of joy that we can spread around, especially during these trying times.

After all, the quarantine can’t lock down our merry vibes, can it?

That’s why we should take every opportunity to spread little bits of sweetness to the people around us.

Take the cookies from Kica Bites, for example.

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Made with love by newlyweds Kim and Carla (hence the name “KiCa”) who discovered baking as their “quaranthing,” these confections are the sweet treats that are sure to brighten everyone’s day.

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Baked in small batches in their HQ in Rizal, Kica Bites cookies come in two signature flavors:

Original Chocolate Chip (Php209 for box of 6 | Php269 for box of 10). It’s hard to resist biting into a buttery cookie studded with chocolate chips, with just a hint of a crisp at the edges and chewy center . So why bother resisting?

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Triple Dark Chocolate with Walnuts (Php229 for box of 6 | Php289 for box of 10). Get ready for chocolate overload with this fudgy chocolatey cookie!

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Kica Bites

Can’t choose between the two flavors? Why don’t you go for a Mixed Box (Php279) with five pieces of each cookie variant?

Kica Bites

So the next question is: how can these sweet cookie delights find their way to you?

Kica Bites

Simple: just fill out this order form, then wait for the order confirmation as well as Kica Bites’ payment details. Pay via BPI, Union Bank or Gcash then send proof of payment. Kica Bites cookies may be delivered from Rizal to anywhere in Metro Manila everyday or within Cavite on weekends.

These cookies are great for dessert a meal or as an accompaniment for your cuppa on your coffee break.

Kica Bites

With the holidays fast approaching, you can spread some joy and love by giving a box of cookies to your nears-and-dears so that they can bite into some sweet goodness too!

Disclosure: Product samples were provided to facilitate an honest review.

Check out my blog posts on other small enterprises and startups in the food business:

Hoppity-Poppity Carrot Cake from Chrissy Bakey

We’re nearing the end of the first of this year’s “-ber” months and you know what that means…

The holidays are upon us!

Despite the quarantine restrictions and the near-constant worries we momshies saddle ourselves with, there’s no denying that this holiday season presents us with the challenge of making it one to remember for the right reasons.

And what better way to celebrate all that we have accomplished despite the odds this year than to enjoy great food with our nears-and-dears.

Homemade desserts, in particular, do more than just inject us with a bit of sugar rush. They bring us back to those simpler and carefree times when the highlight of our days were biting into a sweet slice of heavenly cakes.

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

That’s what thirty-seven-year-old Pasig-based entrepreneur Chrissy Caballero hopes to achieve with her online bakeshop Chrissy Bakey.

Having been a home baker for ten years, she grew her business from her habit of baking sweet treats for her son’s snackbox and whipping up cakes for family celebrations. After experimenting with various dessert recipes, even setting baking challenges for herself, she decided to quietly launch the Chrissy Bakey in late 2019, using the brand name when taking on orders and requests during the Christmas season.

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

She was gearing up to make 2020 her banner year…

…and then the pandemic happened.

Though initially discouraged by the stresses brought about by the pandemic while also juggling a full-time marketing job and overseeing her son’s online learning at the same time, Chrissy finally started selling her desserts again during the ECQ, then formally launched Chrissy Bakey into the world during Indepence Day this year.

Chrissy Bakey offers whimsical takes on classic dessert favorites.

The creatively-named Hoppity Poppity (Php650), for instance, is her version of the all-time favorite Carrot Walnut Cake. An eight-inch round pan of moist and sweetly-spiced carrot cake highlighted by chopped walnuts and raisins then topped with a rich cream cheese topping, it will surely get the kiddos (and some of the grown-ups!) hoppin’ for another slice or two.

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey also caters to chocolate lovers with Mom’s Legendary Chocolate Cake. Other treats such as Lemon Bars and Red Swirlies are available upon request.

Chrissy Bakey opens up slots for these yummy creations every Friday and Saturday. To order, send a message via Instagram. Payments via BPI and GCash are accepted. Chrissy Bakey’s goodies can be delivered to anywhere in Metro Manila via Grab, Lalamove and Joyride (delivery fee to be shouldered by customer).

So momshies, how about we give our loved ones a taste of our fellow momshie Chrissy’s yummy dessert creations over the holidays?

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

Chrissy Bakey

Disclosure: Product sample was provided to facilitate an honest review.

Check out my blog posts on other small enterprises and startups in the food business:

Flavored breads from Tita She’s Bakery

How do you like to start your day, foodies?

Before I begin my workday, either back when I was in the office, or these days working from home, I like to take a quick coffee break and munch on some yummy baked goods.

Tita She’s Bakery

My go-to orders from the panaderia near the office are cheese pan de sal and Spanish bread.

Pan de sal, the most common bread roll in the Philippines, is made with flour, yeast, sugar, eggs and water, a staple many breakfast tables.

Its softer, longer and more buttery and sugary version, on the other hand, is called Spanish bread.

These classic breads and my morning coffee have sustained me through many tedious reports, near-interminable meetings and more.

Now that I’m working from home (and I can’t go out to buy breads on a whim), jumpstarting my workday the way I like it has gotten a bit harder.

Thankfully, there’s a way for me to get my morning breads before I start my day working from home. Plus, they come with a colorful and flavorful twist, thanks to Tita She’s Bakery.

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

This new online store came about when twenty-four-year-old Kim Nunez was faced with slowed down projects as an events photographer and wanted a new source of income.

Chancing upon an article on Facebook about an online seller making Php7,000 a day from making and selling ube cheese pan de sal, Kim decided to try her hand at it as well.

With her mom’s help, she started baking the trending food item and started selling two days later.

She didn’t stop there.

Integrating her love for cakes and recognizing that Pinoys would love a new twist to their faves, she also came out with breads with popular cake flavors.

Pan de Sal flavors include ube, cheese, ube cheese, ube choco, choco cheese, choco hazelnut, banana cake, banana hazelnut and carrot cake.

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

These pan de sal are priced at Php5 to Php10 per piece for regular (65g) and Php7 to Php12 per piece for overloaded (90g with twice the filling as regular).

Spanish bread variants, on the other hand, include classic, ube, cheese, ube cheese, choco and choco hazelnut.

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

These Spanish breads are priced at Php8 to Php12 per piece for regular (65g) and Php12 to Php16 per piece for overloaded (90g with twice the filling as regular).

To get these yummy and freshly baked breads delivered to your doorstep, call +63 932 6032354 or +63 967 7613909 (cashless payments via BDO, BPI and GCash accepted) have them picked up at Lores, Antipolo City via Lalamove (pin “Tita She’s Bakery”). You can also check out Tita She’s Bakery on Facebook and Instagram.

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Don’t worry about ordering a lot of these breads. Just store the leftover breads in the ref and reheat by microwave or oven toaster (two minutes at 150 deg C). They are still fluffy and soft after reheating, even if they’ve been in the ref for three days!

So, foodies, get ready to have a wonderful start to your workday with these flavored breads!

Tita She’s Bakery

Tita She’s Bakery

Disclosure: Product samples were provided to facilitate an honest review.

Check out my blog posts on other small enterprises and startups in the food business:

Classic sugary treats from Cucina ni Sheng

We all need a little (or in my case, a lot!) of sweetness in our lives.

Those little sugary treats can sometimes spell the difference between a disappointingly sad or a sweetly satisfying end to a day. (Foodies, don’t ever underestimate the power of a good dessert!)

That’s what you can expect from Cucina ni Sheng: classic desserts made with love. Every weekend, you can anticipate honest-to-goodness treats to sate your sweet tooth.

Cucina ni Sheng

This little cucina is run by mompreneur Sheng Magcalas left her corporate job a few years ago to take care of her newborn. Aside from her daily routine of house chores and child care tasks, she also took up baking as a hobby and would sometimes gift her creations to friends and family.

However, the recent quarantine heightened her anxiety. Seeking a distraction, she tried out different recipes and expanded her baking repertoire. After three months of trial and error, she grew confident of her baking skills, enough to venture into online selling.

And thus, Cucina ni Sheng came to be.

Sheng takes pride in her little home-based operation: her cucina’s offerings are not outrageous nor avant-garde, just classic desserts that are tasty and affordable, such as:

Calamansi Muffins (Php180/6 pieces). The tangy taste of freshly squeezed calamansi juice adds a zesty, palate-tickling highlight to this fluffy and buttery muffin. It’s perfect when taking a break and leisurely enjoying a cup of your favorite coffee.

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Decadent Chocolate Cake (Php400). A choco-holic’s dream come true! This tin-can dessert is made with super moist chocolate cake topped with a thick layer of creamy chocolate ganache and dusted with cocoa powder. Cap a fabulous dinner with this show-stopping dessert and you’ve got yourself a memorable meal.

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

So this weekend, treat yourself to something sweet from Cucina ni Sheng. You deserve it.

Cucina ni Sheng

Cucina ni Sheng

To get your hands on these goodies, place your orders via Instagram. Cut-off for orders is every Wednesday at 12 noon. Payment via BDO and GCash are accepted. Delivery and pick-ups of these freshly baked delights are scheduled on Saturdays or Sundays, charged to the buyer.

Disclosure: Product samples were provided to facilitate an honest review.

Check out my blog posts on other small enterprises and startups in the food business:

SKYcable brings “Shark Tank” via world’s first tech and entrepreneur TV channel TechStorm beginning July 2019

Shark Tank, the business-themed show that has become a culturally defining series and inspired a nation to dream bigger is set to premiere exclusively on TechStorm, the World’s First Tech & Entrepreneur Channel available on SKYcable this 15th July.

TechStorm Launch

“Southeast Asia has become a hotspot for tech startups across the globe and is continuously experiencing an unprecedented boom. As a result, we’re seeing markets like Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines emerge to meet the needs of its rapidly growing ecosystem. We are exhilarated to bring Shark Tank on TechStorm to connect with entrepreneurial community eager to see more of the investment action, be entertained while they pick up business pitch tips from the world’s most well-known investor names on the show. We are confident that our fans will love Shark Tank which will have its Philippine premiere on July 15 in addition to a compelling line-up of best in-class, first-run and exclusive entertainment across tech and entrepreneurship theme”, said Debbie Lee, Founder of TechStorm TV.

“The addition of TechStorm to our line-up is SKY’s way of continuously providing Filipinos the best, not only in entertainment choices, but innovative programming offers as well that support specialized and diverse interests of our market ,” SKY Head of Programming and Airtime Sales James Dumlao said.

TechStorm will air first on SKYcable in the Philippines.

The number one business-themed reality and Emmy Award-Winning series that features multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons known as sharks who give budding entrepreneurs the chance to secure business deals will be available Mondays to Thursdays at 9PM.

The show was launched yesterday, July 11, at co-working space Acceler8 in Rockwell, Makati via a panel discussion on tech start-ups in the country, which featured QBO president Butch Meily, South East Asia tech celebrity influencer Willy Foo, Ideaspace Executive Director Diane Eustaquio, and was moderated by the founder & CEO of TechStorm TV, Debbie Lee.

TechStorm Launch

TechStorm Launch

TechStorm Launch

In line with this major show launch, TechStorm will also be bringing some of the biggest and award winning international Tech & Entrepreneurship shows including Pop Up Start Up, The Gadget Show, Buy It Now and Futuristic China which will be running First & Exclusive only on TechStorm TV.

TechStorm Launch

TechStorm Launch

TechStorm is available on SKYcable channel 212 via its Select service in Mega Manila. Subscribers can choose to add the channel in their line-up for only P20 a month. Visit mysky.com.ph/gettechstorm or call 418 0000 to subscribe.

About TechStorm

TechStorm is the world’s first one-stop media destination that celebrates the world’s fastest rising stars in Technology and Entrepreneurship available across 20 countries in Asia Pacific. Its 24 hour channel programmed in HD showcases compelling line-up of best in-class, first-run and exclusive entertainment across tech and entrepreneurship themes.

TechStorm is a next-generation international media owned by TechTV Network Pte Ltd with its global headquarters in Singapore, serving a global and pan-Asian tech loving fan base.

The company’s dynamic leadership team has more than 30 years’ of combined domain expertise in technology, international media and business; fueled by the passion to drive change, be the voice for the unsung heroes in the technology sector and give Asia’s rising entrepreneurship community global recognition that they deserve.

About SKY Cable Corporation

SKY Cable Corporation is a leading cable and broadband technology provider in the Philippines, offering an array of innovative and pioneering products with rich content delivered on various platforms. Its products are a showcase of top-of-mind choices among Filipinos: SKYcable, known for its top-notch programming; SKY Fiber, which offers complete entertainment & internet bundle with fiber-boosted broadband, HD Cable TV and mobile internet options; SKYdirect, a direct-to-home television technology that brings superior cable entertainment nationwide; SKY on Demand, an on-demand video streaming and entertainment service allowing content viewing on any screen. SKY Cable is a subsidiary of ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ leading media and entertainment company.

Show details and images provided by TechStorm in a recent press release. All other photos are mine.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

Chocoholics’ Dream: Dreamcake Chocolatta by Kitycups

Tin can chocolate cakes, or more commonly called chocolate dream cakes, have definitely gone viral, with more and more suppliers poppin’ up in retail outlets and online.

Chocolate dream cakes are a delectable treat: a dream come true for chocolate lovers because of its several layers of chocolate goodness, from the moist chocolate cake base, the creamy chocolate ganache, the rich chocolate fudge covered by a thin shard of chocolate and sprinkled with cocoa powder.

Being a chocoholic myself, I got intrigued when I first heard about this sweet treat and I’ve been trying it out whenever I can.

When I checked out Meals.ph and saw the Dreamcake Chocolatta by Kitycups, I knew I just had to try it.

I used the Meals.ph app to contact Kitycups owner Kristine Rodriguez. This homebaker’s base of operations is in Las Pinas which is quite a long way from my home in Pasig, but fortunately her products (which also include Nama Chocolates, Premium Beef Tapa and Gourmet Tuyo) can be shipped to anywhere in Metro Manila.

Coincidentally, she was attending a trade fair in SM Megamall at that time so she thought of shipping the item from there.

She accepts payment via BPI so all I had to do was transfer the money using the BPI app and prepare Php100 in cash for the delivery via Lalamove.

In an hour or so, my Dreamcake Chocolatta arrived and it’s every bit as decadent and chocolatey as I imagined!

At only Php350 for a 6-inch x 2-inch cake, it’s already good for three people so it’s quite a bargain.

My kids and I enjoyed it with dollops of vanilla ice cream for a really delectable dessert.

Aside from the Dreamcake Chocolatta, I appreciate Kitycups for being so accommodating, and for trying to find a way to lessen shipping costs for me.

Check out Kitycups’ Kristine Rodriguez’ profile and more intel on Meals.ph and its sellers on this blog post.

To order Kitycups’ products, visit her profile on:

Take a sneak peek into the beginnings of your favorite influencers with LikeToKnow.It

Ever wondered how your favorite IG mavens got their start? The print offshoot of the app-based shopping service that makes the Instagram pics of many Instagram influencers instantly shoppable, LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, delves into how these IG stars got their start.

Photo by Daria Litvinova on Unsplash

Collated and curated by editors of LikeToKnow.it, the stories contain interesting narratives of how these influencers were able to turn their passions – which range from fashion, beauty, food, interior design and homemaking – into thriving online businesses. Common themes among their stories that their fans can learn from are:

Passion for their area of interest.  These enterprising folks are tuned in to their passion, building expertise and credibility in their respective fields, and are motivated to share their favorites to the world.

Support from family and friends.  Building an online presence, especially on one’s own, is never easy, but with help and encouragement from their loved ones, they were able to pursue their dreams.

Great financial and personal rewards.  Having built their following and established their expertise, they are able to enjoy financial freedom.  Some are earning enough to support their families that their spouses quit their jobs to help them with their online business.  Others share their feeling of gratification at being paid to do what they love while spending more time with loved ones.

Photo by Igot Miske on Unsplash

Featured influencers include fashion mavens Molly Sims (@mollybsims) and Courtney Kerr (@KERRently), lifestyle gurus Liz Joy (@purejoyhome) and Kelly Larkin (@kellyinthecity), food and nutrition bloggers July Bauer Roth (@paleomg) and Tori Wesszer (@fraichenutrition), among others.

Photo by Chikeun Park on Unsplash

The stories, accompanied by gorgeous shots of influencers doing and sharing what they love best, will give readers a tantalizing inspiration to get started on bringing their own dreams to life. Note, though, these Q&A-type narratives are by no means comprehensive and do skip most of the early struggles and sacrifices that most businesses go through.

LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, published by Greenleaf Book Group, will be released on September 18, 2018 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com!

Thanks to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group for the advanced reader copy.

This post contains affiliate links.

Photo Credits: Ewan Robertson, Daria Litvinova, Igor Miske and Chikeun Park on Unsplash

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