One of the people who continue to influence my life to this day is one of my childhood best friends, KC De Venecia.
KC, who I wrote about previously in this column, was a vibrant ball of light and outstanding bravery. She had the biggest hearts of anyone I knew and a daredevil spirit that I only wish I had. Sadly, KC left the earth for a place more beautiful almost 13 years ago and my 16-year-old heart never quite recovered from it.
I am fortunate however to still be able to see glimpses of her in the person of her older sister, Carissa Cruz Evangelista. Ate Carissa is the woman behind Beatriz, which was handpicked by Oprah’s O Magazine to be a part of her 2016 favorite things list (yes, that famous list).
A luxurious, handcrafted and modern brand uses interesting materials in creative ways, Beatriz has been known for its colorful and modern accessories that are now sold in the US, Bahamas, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Australia, Bangkok, and Paris.
Beatriz’s designs boast of unique materials and are attached with special gluing technique that involves lining the raw threads one by one to form the final pattern. This often results in one of-a-kind design whose imperfections signal the true sign of true artisanship and handicraft. It indeed is an artisanal brand.
Carissa’s glittering resume includes working with government, with a bank, owning and running garment retail and subcontracting business, and even dabbling in the field of computer graphics and animation after college.
A woman who truly does it all, she started Beatriz after her first child was born, “I have always had a love for accessories, for fashion, and for art since I was young and I am grateful to be given the chance to have my own brand that marries all the values that I believe and stand for.”
To her, Beatriz is more than just a brand but an avenue for her to help artisan Filipino communities. For Beatriz to give opportunities to these communities by allowing the work of their hands to be seen and used worldwide is the biggest inspiration of all, “The stories of the faces behind our designs. The people from these communities have their own life stories to share of where their own creativity comes from and the families who inspire them to give their best at all times.”
It was the passion and hard work that were embedded in the designs that caught the attention of Oprah’s editorial team and creative director. Carissa and her team took a giant leap of faith, agreeing to a specific production number they asked for, and it paid off with the recognition Beatriz received, “We were so grateful for the opportunity.”
After the attention given by being featured in Oprah’s magazine, Carissa continues to take it one day at a time while believing Beatriz’s best days are yet to come.
“I wish to continue to improve the brand by continuing to work with product development, work with existing communities while also looking for new communities to partner with. There are always opportunities and we wish to give everyone a chance. We are also beefing up our system to cater to over 30 stores in the United States and 15 in Europe and the Middle East. We are currently looking for partners and we have faith that one step will lead to the next,” she said.
And with our favorite angel on her side, indeed, those steps of faith have already been sprinkled with love and light from above.