Handmade pottery business survives in the local market
Husband-and-wife team EJ and Eva Espiritu started their pottery business in 1996, after they arrived from the United States. EJ is a ceramic engineer while Eva is currently a home-schooling mom to their only child aside from getting involved in the business. The couple met and married abroad before returning to the Philippines.
Eva explains that she was born in the Philippines and grew up in the US while her husband, at around the time they got married, was under petition for American citizenship.
“We had to process his immigration papers here. We were waiting for the appointment from the US Embassy. While we were waiting, whatever savings we had as newlyweds, that’s what we lived of.”
Eva continues, “We had to find ways to sustain our living here. By the time the appointment came up in six months, we had already established this business. So we decided not to go back.”
They started subcontracting ceramics for export that continued for the next four years. “It was rough. We borrowed money from family. During that time, we had no child yet, and that’s where I learned to eat talbos and tuyo.” Eva recalls that her move to the Philippines involved a lot of hardship but she sees it in a spiritual manner, “It was a major adjustment. But God doesn’t put you in a situation that He has not prepared you for.”
By 2000, the couple decided to launch their own product line known as Cornerstone Ceramics as an alternative to the declining export demand.
According to Eva, they did quite well locally during the first few years due to the trend towards cocooning. With the earnings they were able to purchase a 3,000-sqm farm in Silang, Cavite and the business has since been known as Cornerstone Pottery Farm.
Eva recalls, “We got the farm from earnings when we launched the product line. Business was good for the first three to four years. Locally, the market was also very willing to invest in interiors.”
After the cocooning trend, people stopped buying for the home. “Over the last 10 years, we developed a formidable spirit. It’s very unpredictable,” Eva admits. “If we had to give it up, I think we could.
But it would still be a hobby. But there’s nothing yet that tells us to stop. We’re just thankful that the local market sustains us.”
Nowadays, they also offer two-hour pottery lessons at their farm in Cavite that is along the Aguinaldo Highway. For a minimum of four persons, the workshop costs P500 per person and an additional P500 per head if lunch is included. It is open to children as young as 6 years old. (For details, contact 0919-9952022.)
“We are thankful to those who appreciate handmade products. You’re helping micro-business,” Eva states. About a year ago, her 10-year-old son Angelo started making his own pottery as well and sells them.
Eva affirms, “It’s in our blood. We’re not going to give up.”