FedEx Helps Filipino SME Go International with Filipino Culture
Meet the social enterprise ANTHILL Fabric Gallery– a trail blazer for the Philippines’ indigenous textiles movement
Anya Lim, the visionary behind ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, was raised by culturally proud Filipino parents who owned a textile business. Anya grew up with bedtime stories about heroes from indigenous groups in the Philippines. Family vacations comprised of visits to local communities and weaving villages.
Many might know ANTHILL as a fashion brand. But at its core, ANTHILL, which stands for Alternative Nest and Trading/ Training Hub for Indigenous/Ingenious Little Livelihood seekers, is a social enterprise that promotes Filipino culture through contemporary design.
Inspired by childhood village memories
During ANTHILL’s beginnings, local weavers were given little to no mainstream recognition. Traditional patterns were mainly used for furniture and household products. The fate of weaving was uncertain as younger generations were unwilling to inherit the craft.
Anya wanted to make sure that ANTHILL would have enough supply before creating the demand and launching the business. The first five years of the enterprise’s operations focused on capacity building. They ensured that their community partners were ready for business. They provided leadership and financial literacy skills training, with the end goal of making the weavers self-reliant.
From baby steps to leading advocacy for fabric culture and art
Since ANTHILL started, Filipino traditional weaving has made a resurgence.
What was once a dying art has been revived by designers and entrepreneurs.
These vibrant patterns are incorporated into apparel, home decor, and other items admired and desired around the world. Today, these products play a key part in Philippine exports with the fashion industry's demand for natural fabrics.
Today, ANTHILL’s biggest market is its global customers, making up between 80-90% of sales. Many of these clients, Anya says, are Filipinos living abroad who wish to connect to their roots and wear their identities.
ANTHILL has struck up partnerships with businesses in Europe, United States, Hong Kong, and Japan. To better serve them at lower costs, Anya and her team worked with FedEx to consolidate international shipments. "We crunched the numbers and came up with the costs and average rates that will fall within different locations and weight categories. This way, it's a win-win; our clients pay less on shipping, without affecting our bottom line."
Rethreading the loom amid COVID-19
“First, we decentralized the supply chain, so that everyone can work from home. We were committed to prioritizing people over profit, and we made sure nobody was laid off,” she shared. “We cut down our revenue channels. From four revenue channels, we went down to two. We used to do uniforms for hotels and schools, but that side of the business stopped. Our face masks and our online channel became the bloodline of our business. We were also left with a lot of fabric because of the cancelled events, so we started selling them online as well.”
The majority of ANTHILL orders during the pandemic have been bulk purchases of masks to US clients, who then proceed to resell them in their respective stores.
ANTHILL remains determined to continue advocating for Philippine indigenous textiles and local culture. Adapting to the pandemic, they are focused on developing products relevant to the times and serving communities.
“Aside from masks, we’re also looking at home essentials, room-to-zoom blouses for those who work from home, and Christmas decor,” shares Lim. “We're are eager to collaborate with brands and designers abroad who will have the demand for our fabrics.”
As ANTHILL bravely faces the future and the world at large, they are grateful for logistics partners like FedEx who are supporting them in their mission of keeping indigenous Filipino culture alive.
Learn more about ANTHILL Fabric Gallery on their website.
Visit FedEx Express Philippines to discover more ways to grow your business globally.