No more waiting in vain for eco-ethical House of Marley goodsBy Armin Adina
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The undeniable love of Filipinos for music and the Philippines’ abundant natural resources were more than enough to convince representatives of a US-based music accessories company to bring their brand to the country, ahead of Japan and even Europe.
According to Eric Caldwell, House of Marley’s director of international sales, “there’s a strong musical tradition here. That’s something that resonates with the brand. If you look at this beautiful country here, all the beautiful nature, you’re learning that this country is a paradise that needs to be preserved. And these types of products fit in with that.”
He came to the country last month to help introduce House of Marley to the Philippines, one of the first Asian countries to have the brand’s line of headphones and audio docks. The first international shipments were made between August and September of last year. The brand plans to launch in Europe by this month, Caldwell told the Inquirer.
Citing House of Marley’s principle of providing Earth-friendly products of the highest quality that also give back to society, Caldwell added: “And just look at the colors, the materials, they fit in, they look like they belong [in the Philippines]. And the values as well, I think that they are family-friendly, very nurturing society. I think these things all tie together.”
Carrying the name of legendary reggae icon Bob Marley, the brand brings with it the musician’s philosophy of championing “youth, planet and peace.”
Part of the sales of House of Marley products goes to the Marley family’s 1Love.org foundation, which raises funds for the benefit of the following international organizations: Save the Children, Every Mother Counts, Little Kids Rock, Bob Marley Foundation, Explore, Music for Relief, Protect our Winters, Charity: Water, Invisible Children, Musicounts, ReClink, Playing for Change Foundation and Unep.
Caldwell said that 1Love.org chose to focus this year on Save the Children Foundation, which has a satellite office here in the Philippines.
The House of Marley was introduced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January of last year. Michael Dy Pico, president and general manager of Philippine-based JERM Marketing Inc., was there and saw a huge potential for the brand to prosper in the Philippines.
“I told them that I was inspired by the brand’s principles. I love it very much. And bringing the products to the Philippines is helping give back to 1Love.org, which is a very good thing,” Pico shared with the Inquirer.
“So I talked to Eric, I convinced him that I could do a good job of taking the brand here to the Philippines. Since I’ve done a good job with the other brands that we’ve worked with together, he decided to say yes,” he added.
It was not a tough decision to make, Caldwell confessed.
“Because I’ve known him for some time and he’s been successful in a number of brands that we’ve worked together on,” he explained.
The House of Marley’s parent company has been doing business with JERM for its other brands for the past 10 years.
“And I felt confident that this will be a challenge that he’d be able to more than handle. And I can see how he totally embraced the whole philosophy and embody it and excited about it. That’s exactly the type of partner that we agree to have in every country,” Caldwell said.
Pico added: “The products are very Filipino. The Jamaican flavor is very similar. If you look at the products, if you look at the materials, they’re very Filipino. There’s wood, organic cotton, if you see plastics, they’re very high quality plastics. And the design, the colors, the shape are very Filipino.”
House of Marley products are made with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s resources.
“So if you cut a tree, you plant a replacement tree. So we’re minimizing the effect on the environment of how we make our products,” Caldwell explained.
“We use recyclable aluminum, as much recycled plastic as we can. We use organic dyes, cotton, leather, canvass. If you look at how the products are made, it’s totally different from all the other products out there in the market,” he added.
The packaging is also environment-friendly, Caldwell said.
“If you look at the way the packaging is done, it’s recycled paper board, Earth-friendly dyes. You’re not cutting off some plastic clamshell. In the stores, they can show you the products and then put them all again in the box and it’s perfect, it’s all new,” he said.
The Marley family is also heavily involved in the brand, Caldwell said.
“We were introduced to the Marley family almost two years ago. We met with Rohan Marley, who is one of Bob Marley’s sons. And as we spoke together, it became clear that there were exciting things and ideas coming from this conversation,” Caldwell recounted.
“They’re really involved in every aspect of the business. The reason we chose audio products to begin with was because Bob Marley, and the family … they’re active musicians, very famous musicians. The products have got to sound good. We’re making them using unique materials, but they have to sound good. And in fact, they work hand in hand. Using the FSC-certified wood helps you to achieve a richer, deeper sound,” he explained.
Caldwell added: “They’re very involved in actually approving the product, the design of the product, the way they look, the packaging. The names of all our products are based on Bob Marley’s songs. All the advertising, all the marketing material, everything is approved by the Marley family.”
Since its launch last year, the company has boosted its capacity to accommodate the increasing demand, he shared. Its factories in China have been redesigned to keep up with the global demand without compromising the quality of the products, as supervised by their US-trained engineers, Caldwell added.
And because of the rising interest in the brand, the House of Marley plans to offer bags and wristwatches, which will also be inspired by Bob Marley and his legacy.
“The first shipment of bags will come in July. And the watches, we’re looking at October or November,” Caldwell disclosed.
The Philippines may expect the House of Marley bags to arrive in the fourth quarter of the year, while the wristwatches will be made available in the first quarter of next year, Pico said.
Filipino followers of Bob Marley can hardly wait.
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