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.


Ramen time with Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

My #RamenPhase has been going on for years now and is showing no sign of waning.

And with the metro just entering the season of ramen weather, it’s only fitting that I start looking for new ramen places to try.

Friends who reside in Marikina have been giving me rave reviews about Tongara Ramen for some time now. Located in foodie haven Lamp Quarters, this new ramen spot is lauded for its special broth which is also its namesake: tongara – a mixture of tonkotsu, broth made from pork bones, and torigara, broth made from chicken bones. The resulting broth has an additional layer of sweet-savory flavor to it that differentiates Tongara Ramen’s offerings from those of other ramen places in the metro.

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

During a recent foray to Lamp Quarters with my daughter #ExhibitA, we decided to have lunch at Tongara Ramen to taste its celebrated ramen for ourselves.

Our meal included:

Tongara Ramen Junior Bowl (Php220). Don’t let its junior size fool you. We each had a Junior Bowl of Tongara’s famed ramen and it was filling enough to sate our hunger. We loved its flavorful broth and firm noodles which are well complemented by the torched tender slice of chashu (seasoned pork belly), ajitama (seasoned soft-boiled egg) and crisp bamboo shoots.

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

Chicken Karaage (Php200). Tender and flavorful bite-size pieces of marinated chicken covered in seasoned what flour and deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown. These are best sprinkled with a bit of lemon juice upon serving and dipped in Japanese mayo.

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

Gyoza (Php200). Japan’s famous pot sticker made of minced pork, shredded cabbage and aromatics wrapped in thinly rolled dough skins which are first steamed then lightly fried on one side to achieve a slightly crisp texture that complements the dish’s garlicky flavor. Any meal at a Japanese resto with #ExhibitA will not be complete without this dish.

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

So, thanks to Tongara Ramen for another mother-daughter foodie adventure unlocked!

Tongara Ramen, Lamp Quarters

Tongara Ramen is located at Lamp Quarters, Gil Fernando Avenue, Santo Nino, Marikina, open Sundays to Fridays from 11am to 11pm and Saturdays from 11am to 8pm. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 2 3903773 or +63 917 1794718.

Did you know you that you and a friend can buy two drinks and get the same two drinks for free at Tongara Ramen through Zomato Gold? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

Enjoy your ramen during the wet season with Tongara’s Rainy Days Special: get a free side dish or cocktail for a minimum single receipt purchase of Php1,200 or 2 free side dishes or cocktails for a minimum single recept purchase of Php2,000.

Tongara Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out reviews of other Japanese restaurants on this blog: