Weaving joyful stories | R2R Artisan Community Visit in Tondo, Philippines


Rags2Riches (R2R) is a fashion house empowering community artisans through the creation of eco-ethical products by using upcycled, overstocked, and indigenous fabrics. The involvement of local artisans in the production process is driven through an inclusive manufacturing and governance process, ensuring local artisans have a say in the company’s decisions. Rags2Riches also provides educational opportunities for their artisans to acquire financial literacy skills, hosts a microinsurance scheme for their artisans to rest easy with safety nets, and creates full-time jobs for communities across the Philippines.
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, who is the co-founder and President of R2R, emphasizes how they formed the enterprise as a way to help communities in places like Tondo and Payatas in the Philippines to lift themselves out of poverty by providing fair wage and stable job opportunities to local artisans that are trained through their Artisan Academy. In the 11 years that the company has been operating, they’ve trained over 1,000 artisans and have expanded into nine communities across Metro Manila. Every year, they offer financial literacy workshops, values formation, and continuous mentorship and training to their artisans.
I had the amazing opportunity to meet some of the artisans based in Tondo last January and saw how each wonderfully handwoven bag was made--from gathering and cutting the scrap fabric, weaving them into wooden boards (that the artisans calibrated themselves) up until the final stitching and quality control process.
During the visit, the artisans told us about how they went about their lives before working with Reese and other artisans how R2R made a 180 degree impact in their lives. The women of R2R shared how before joining the Artisan Academy, they earned less than minimum wage and selling rags worth less than $2 and did not have a stable monthly income. Now, the artisans are able to earn 10x or even more than they used to and are able to uplift themselves from their past living condition. One artisan shared that because of R2R's arrangements, she is able to provide for her family, send her children to school. The artisans resounded her story and added how they all look forward to weaving joyful stories through the work that they do. 
Seastainable, in partnership with Salty Seas Co. has ventured into bringing their woven masterpieces into Singapore and making it available for purchase through our online channels. This is to raise awareness on the importance of supporting ethical and sustainable fashion in a saturated world of fast fashion.

You can find our exclusive Salty Seas x Rags2Riches pieces here
(Please remember to only buy if you need one!)

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