Dam women turn to jewelry making

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DAM Good Stuff Inc. is a designer/producer and wholesaler of fashion accessories hand-made by the women of San Manuel and San Nicolas, Pangasinan province, whose families were forced out of their homes by the construction of the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam of the National Power Corp. in 1998 to 2003.

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The company was founded by spouses Raymond and Carol Cunningham, who work as engineers at the San Roque dam. The couple took pity on the displaced families and cooked up a livelihood project to sustain them.

From its founding in October 2002, the company began exporting most of its products to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. Shipments reached its peak in 2006 and 2007, but dropped in 2008 because of the global financial crisis, when consumer spending shrank.

Since then, it has lost the Australia and Japan markets, but retained its buyers in the US and UK. It was able to penetrate another market in Europe, Denmark, just last year.

DGSI Business Manager Analyn Blardony said that starting this week, the company will be shipping to a buyer in Costa Rica, who saw DGSI fashion accessories at the Manila Fame Expo in October.

The company is also supplying shops at Makati Shangrila Hotel and Silahis Arts and Artifacts, a specialty shop in Intramuros. DGSI personnel also sell their products in fashion and jewelry expos where it is able to attract retailers.

“DGSI, being owned by foreigners, can’t go into retailing under Philippine laws so we are just wholesaling our products to retail vendors,” Blardony explained.

Seamstress Carlina Vitales, a mother of four, said her income from DGSI enabled her to send her younger children to high school. She also makes enough to buy milk, diapers and pasalubong when she visits her grandchildren.

Siblings Jocelyn Cortez and Marjorie Cabuslay said their younger brother was able to finish high school, thanks to their earnings. They were also able to save enough to send him to a vocational school.

Marife Lorena thanked DGSI for helping artisans like her and the other families in Agno area.

Designer Lilia Salceda, who used to work abroad, is also grateful that she can help her husband support their family. Her child is now in high school.

DGSI wants to become a leader in the fashion jewelry business by pursuing excellence in design, quality, and service to its customers. By being a leader in the industry, “we can increase our sales, which will provide more jobs for the women in the affected families of San Roque,” Blardony said.

Blardony said their products are affordable, with prices starting at P500.

The company employs 12 artisans who are members of the Agno Artisans Multi-Purpose Cooperative women’s cooperative and 12 other office-based workers, including Blardony, herself from San Manuel.

Many individuals, including foreigners, have taken interest in promoting DGSI products to civil clubs. DGSI made a presentation before the Rotary and gave out handouts that said: “By purchasing DGSI products you are supporting these women and their families and assuring them of sustainable income while expanding and enhancing their livelihood potential.”

“We guaranty that our export-quality fashion accessories are really Dam Good Stuff!”

DGSI will be holding a pre-Christmas sale at its showroom at Unit 303 One Corporate Plaza, 845 Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City. Fashion accessories made from semi-precious stones and nickel-free and lead free metal and sterling silver will be sold at half price from Nov. 11 to 15.

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