They launched a crowdfunding campaign towards the end of 2013. Roughly two years later, this young start-up now sells a variety of Philippine-made products worldwide. They take their loyal customers and craftsmen along with them as they continue their ascent to start-up success. Meet the people and products behind Gouache Waxed Canvas Bags. Their words and their works are a testament that Filipino craftsmanship is truly world-class.

One of my biggest goals when I put up this website is to regularly feature homegrown brands and social enterprises. Not many friends know how I got interested in doing this in the first place.

It all started when I met Gouache towards the end of 2013. This 2016, I now start with #PassionProducts, a new blog series focused on in-depth brand features. I think it’s only fitting that I start this series with a feature of Gouache.

Back then, I was looking for a bag that I would trust enough to house most prized possessions: my camera and my laptop. I had to close down my bank account and sell brownies in school to purchase these gadgets. Naturally, I was paranoid and protective. The last thing I wanted was to choose a substandard bag that could potentially damage them.

Being maarte, I wanted a bag that would suit my style. Being broke, I needed a bag that would suit my budget. And then I met Gouache, which turned out to be everything I needed and wanted in a bag.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 10

This is the Gouache Camera Bag in Navy Blue. It doesn’t look bulky, but it snugly stores my Canon 600D, three lenses, a MacBook Air, my phone, chargers for all three gadgets, brochures, maps, receipts, and my planner. This means that inside this inconspicuous bag lie my entire mobile office–everything I could possibly need for both work and school.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 9

I love the kind of job that allows you to explore different places and meet new people. But I learned that being on the go requires you to develop your own system of working from anywhere. (The most extreme experience I had was covering a concert. The article had to be out on the day itself, so my friend and I published the article on the street outside a crowded Starbucks.)

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 7In unpredictable environments such as these, the Gouache Camera Bag has helped me in two ways: the pockets helped me develop my own system of organizing my work essentials, and the padded dividers kept all of them safe.

Rebecca_Lee_BGC 0064

The oil-tanned leather and brass buckle look classy and rustic against the shiny waxed cotton canvas. These two materials have built up Gouache’s trademark look, but they are considering experimenting with other kinds of textile for their future designs.Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 11I think of Gouache as a versatile cross between classic and grungy. It’s classic enough to be worn with blazers and button-downs, and grungy enough to be worn with your laid-back travel outfits.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 8

Another one of my favorite products from Gouache is the Gouache Lunch Bag. Like the Gouache Camera Bag, it’s more spacious that it looks. It’s spacious enough to fit my lunch, drinks, and desserts, and it still has space for more food (a.k.a. more happiness).

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 1

It’s like a functional and eco-friendly version of the classic brown paper bag. It has a brass buckle accent and a long strap that transforms it into a sling bag.

This lunch bag doubled as my handbag for quick errands. I like going out with snacks and water, so I just quickly shove my phone and wallet inside with them.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 3

I’ve found schoolmates in UP who use the Gouache Lunch Bag as their everyday school bag, too. (One friend was using this to school, and she didn’t even know that this was supposedly a lunch bag.)

My brother David got the blue one. Instead of using it for food and drinks, he stores his clothes, notebooks, and pencil case in it, too. I think this only goes to show just how versatile and spacious this bag could be.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 3

There are many other products from Gouache, but these two are my favorites. Having checked out the rest of Gouache’s products, I could say that two common traits across their different items are their versatile style and uncompromising quality.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 12

Of course, these are important to any customer. But Gouache goes beyond touching the lives of their customers. They are also changing the lives of the people who make these bags. To know more about the Gouache community, I spoke with Louie Poco and Ann Enriquez, the hands-on duo behind Gouache.

It all started when Louie couldn’t find a bag that would suit his style and budget. They later found out that other photography hobbyists and professionals had a similar need. They started a crowdfunding campaign with The Spark Project. The goal then was simply to produce a few waxed canvas bags. They exceeded their target amount, and used the money they pooled from the crowdfunding campaign to create other designs and to build their own website.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 13

When they started this business, they only catered to local clients and enlisted the service of five bag makers.

Now, they ship worldwide with distributors in Singapore and in the United States. As their start-up grows, the number of craftsmen they employ increases, too. They now have around 25-30 bag makers!

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 14

The craftsmen behind Gouache come from a long line of bag makers who have been perfecting the craft for generations. However, because of recent typhoons, they were displaced from their original spots in the Rizal and Marikina areas. The competition from global brands greatly affected their livelihood, too.

Both Louie and Ann recognize the craftsmanship of their bag makers. “These are families of bag makers who have been practicing their trade for decades, and they are good in their craft,” they said.

“They just need design input and entrepreneurs to connect them with the market. We currently work with five families of bag makers. Our goal is to give them a sustainable and stable source of income by providing them tools and machines allowing them to be more efficient.”

They also provide them with a constant flow of projects, training on project management, and medical support.

So far, these goals have been met and even exceeded. Due to their success in crowdfunding and their business, Louie and Ann have been asked to speak in different events. Gouache is usually a crowd favorite in Metro Manila’s most popular bazaars. Clearly, they’ve come a long way from people simply looking for a camera bag that would suit their style and their budget

But when asked about the most fulfilling thing they’ve done through Gouache, it all goes back to the community of bag makers.

Aside from our growing numbers, the bag makers have made their living conditions better: one has already built a two-story home and another has been able to build perimeter walls or “bakod” to enclose and protect his house.

When they were starting out, Louie and Ann were more focused on the creative side of the business. They experimented and explored bag designs. “But as the business grew, we realized that we actually had to focus more on managing our production workshops, keeping our bag makers motivated, and making sure we meet our deadlines,” they said. The same goes for the changes in the craftsmen they work with. “They now have more efficient tools and a more sustainable lifestyle. We’ve also experienced better professionalism, communication, and management skills from them as they have improved in meeting their deadlines.”

One more thing they’ve noticed is the blossoming pride that the craftsmen have for their products. With the quality of their work, who wouldn’t be proud? It’s one thing to have a more sustainable job, and another thing to look at an item and have a sense of ownership for something you’ve created.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas Giveaway 3

This is the kind of mindset that Filipinos often lack, as we glorify imported items and overlook those that are locally made. So when asked what other advocacy they put forward in their community apart from sustainability, Louie and Ann replied:

“Filipino pride. To make them realize that Filipino craftsmanship is world-class. In our community, we want to instill pride within the bag makers themselves, which gives them passion for their work.”

Giveaway

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas 4

We’re giving away a Gouache Lunch Bag in Asphalt Grey! The winner will be announced on February 29. The price will be shipped to the winner (as long as his/her address is in the Philippines!) 🙂

Mechanics

  1. Like/follow LeeRebecca.com on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  2. Like/follow Gouache on Facebook and Instagram.
  3. Share this article on Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Comment below your social media accounts and tell us which local brand or social enterprise you’d want me to feature next.

Rebecca Lee for Gouache Waxed Canvas Giveaway 1

Gouache Waxed Canvas

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GouacheWaxedCanvas/?fref=ts

Instagram: @gouachewaxedcanvas

Address: Unit J- 225 Katipunan Avenue Extension

Barangay Milagrosa Quezon City, Metro Manila Philippines

Email: gouachewaxedcanvas@gmail.com

Phone: 0917-898-1456

Outdoor Photos by Zeus Martinez (@shootinanylight)

Makeup by Gela Martinez (@gelamakeup)

Thank you so much to Louie and Ann from Gouache for making this feature possible.

Comments

comments

20 Comments on Gouache Waxed Canvas Bags

  1. spencer chiu
    February 5, 2016 at 8:53 am (2 years ago)

    https://www.facebook.com/spenzchiu

    My wife recently gave birth and one product that I thought was very innovative was the Saya baby carrier. Made in the Philippines, its quite innovative in its simplicity and functionality.

    Reply
  2. Luisa Pineda
    February 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Fb.com/luisacpineda
    Twitter.com/LUPINeda_
    Instagram.com/luisacpineda

    I think it would be great if you feature Project Lily next! ☺️

    Reply
  3. Clara Mirabueno
    February 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm (2 years ago)

    https://www.facebook.com/clara.mirabueno
    Twitter and Instagram: @clarabelbels

    hi Becky! how about a feature on local beauty products? some personal favorites are Human Heart Nature, Snoe, and Crown & Glory 🙂

    Reply
  4. Erika Alcantara
    February 6, 2016 at 3:05 am (2 years ago)

    Fb.com/celinaerikaalcantara
    Twitter: @erikasalcantara
    Instagram.com/celinaerikaalcantara

    I don’t have a specific brand in mind but maybe you can look into the clothing lines of UP ClothingTech students who just had their designs on the runway last month! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Erika Alcantara
    February 6, 2016 at 3:23 am (2 years ago)

    Fb.com/celinaerikaalcantara
    Twitter: @erikasalcantara
    Instagram.com/celinaerikaalcantara

    Maybe you can feature clothing lines of UP Clothing Tech students! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Litelsa Dizon
    February 6, 2016 at 5:53 am (2 years ago)

    Facebook:: Litelsa Dizon
    Twitter:: @litelcuck0_o
    Instagram:: @litelcuck0_o

    AKABA (handwoven bags) 😊

    Reply
  7. Krizzia Sapinit
    February 6, 2016 at 10:30 am (2 years ago)

    https://www.facebook.com/krengkels
    Twitter: @krengkels
    Instagram: @krengkels

    I would say to feature my online dreamcatcher shop but that would be so selfish haha! How about Common Room? I like that most of the local artists in Metro Manila are their partners 😀 Or Rags to Riches! I love their products!

    Reply
  8. Allison Laxamana
    February 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm (2 years ago)

    fb.com/allilaxamana
    twitter and IG @allilaxamana

    Pls feature Timothy Scotch <3 Local men's polo brand 🙂

    Reply
  9. Christina Orioste
    February 23, 2016 at 11:27 am (2 years ago)

    https://www.facebook.com/tina.orioste
    https://www.instagram.com/teenaorioste

    Hi Becky! Since summertime is just a month distant, I would suggest if you could feature the lightweight sunglasses and prescription eyewears from Alon by @zachandzurich, a new local brand. They are made from 100% sustainable materials and used polarized lenses. You can even fit your prescription lenses into their high quality frames (which come in a gorgeous box). Such a perfect accessory and definitely worth the purchase for your perfect summer getaway!

    Thanks and best regards,
    Tina 🙂

    Reply
  10. Tiffay Cher Cuevas
    February 27, 2016 at 12:24 am (2 years ago)

    FB: /tiffanycher
    Twitter: /tiffany_cher
    Instagram: @tiffanycher

    Could you feature maybe @leatherph or @wolfeandhuntr? 🙂

    Reply

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