Great Women launched as an Asean brand
Silk from Thailand. Leather from Manila. Craftsmanship and design by Zarah Juan, an Asean woman.
Burmese weave, Thai silk, styled by Camille Escudero into a beautiful sleepwear set. Then, there are the special collaborations of Thai silk and Myanmar weaves. There are spices harvested by women from Cambodia, coffee from Toraja and Bali, green tea from Chiang Mai, and rice powder from Bangkok.
Lotion made and flavored with natural herbs like ginger and tanaka. Charcoal soap from Vietnam. Sampler tea boxes from Palawan.
After dressing up the booth with hangings, sheer white organza to soften the edges, and “easy build” shelves containing T’boli and T’nalak weaves in pillowcases, papier mache and small clutches and bags, shawls and scarves of neo-ethnic designs, the show finally began.
It was a good three days where an Asean SME Showcase yielded the best ideas for Asean integration. Some twenty or so women came together to put up one of the most visited booths at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.
In front of the stand, beautiful artisan jewelry from Burmese-Filipina Wynn Wynn Ong and Xenia Talar of Runa Jewelry of Bali, Indonesia were on display. A set of special jewelry pieces were also presented to the guest of honor, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
As people walked around the booth, some grasped the concept behind it.
“I get it,” one lady said. “All these women are together, regardless of country, and all in the spirit of cooperation. I want to be part of this.”
The women take turns answering queries on where the next store will be, who to reach in whichever country, and where they can find the products after the SME show.
It was a collaboration beyond anyone’s dreams. Silk Avenue’s owners, the pepper lady from Cambodia, the lotion maker from Thailand, and the coffeeroaster from Indonesia—these women were there not for their country alone but for the brand that embraced everyone and that is Great Women.
On the second day, Malaysian entrepreneurs came to hear the founders talk about the Great Women in Asean history.
People listened to SME Corp.’s CEO Dato Hafsah Hashim and US Ambassador for Asean Nina Hachigian.
After the forum, more interest and more questions arose which fueled the women presentors even more.
“Yes, Malaysian women are joining the next showcase,” the crowd chorused.
Is the idea so easy to grasp that everyone just connected to it right away?
“We are not competitors,” Jeannie Javelosa said. “We are collaborators looking for bigger markets we can reach together.”
The overriding philosophy is about “women helping other women” in the supply chain, or in the value chain.
And since women are more than half of consumers in the Asean, the organizers believe that the idea will engage the millions of women across the region.
The products are not made solely for commercial purposes. They are there to fulfill a social cause or mission of letting Asean sisters help one another.
Each product ideally will be made with a mix of cultures and traditions of the rich history of each Asean country and its neighbors.
Soon, Great Women in Asean will pop up in stores and airports, tourist destinations—everywhere where men and women will buy and take home beautiful regional gifts representing one business, one region.
Get in touch with the ECHOsi Foundation (www.echostore.ph) or ECHOstore to find out how you can be part of Great Women too.
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