SINCE time immemorial, accessories have been an integral part of human beings’ adornment, an indication of their wealth, social status and individual taste.
Gold, silver, and their alloy, as well as diamonds and other precious stones are favored as fashion pieces.
With its rich natural resources, the Philippines has used these precious metals as basic elements in jewelry.
Of late, with their innate creativity and imagination, local craftsmen have begun using copper, a malleable metal, in creating works of art and jewelry. One such artisan is Edwin Padillo, 38, a public relations practitioner, social worker, writer and craftsman. He is also taking a master’s degree in Social Work at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He is also father to an eight-month-old Lhasa Apso female he calls Boondie.
His business is called Copperazo, a play on the words “copper” and the Filipino word kapiraso meaning “pieces.” All the products are handmade locally with copper wires, semi-precious stones, leather, glass beads and recyclable materials.
He sells his earrings, ear cuffs, bangles, bracelets, rings, necklaces and pendants in bazaars, fairs, special events and online—Facebook, Instagram and the Web. He calls his creations #WearableArt. The pieces are hand-made by Edwin himself in collaboration with his local crafters and grounded artists from Baguio, Tacloban and Dumaguete.
“You don’t call them workers; you call them crafters. Right now, I have two in Baguio; I have a community in Tacloban and I partnered with a social enterprise in Dumaguete where I source my beads,” Edwin said.
“I craft. My brother and my nephew also craft. It’s not a big company, it’s a very small company, it’s a super microenterprise,” he added.
In 2012 the business was passed on to Edwin by a friend.
“I design. My crafters do, too. We get inspirations from what’s the trend. Artistically, I don’t want to limit their imagination and creativity by simply saying what I think is always right. In my experience, the tastes of people are really different so there will be times when the designs I don’t really like would sell more to the public. So you just have to trust your crafters,” he said.
Edwin said his business has a niche market.
“Basically, we target those who are working because the price range is not that low, though it’s not that high either. A lot of my friends tell me our products are way cheaper than competition. I’d like to make it that way because I still want people to buy it.”
“Most of my buyers are working women in their 30s, 40s or even in their 60s. They are mostly mothers and titas because they have the money. But what I really like about my buyers is they appreciate art. They are artistically inclined because they appreciate this kind of methods and techniques. That’s why the hashtag is Wearable Art.”
Edwin said among the three online sites, Facebook has the highest concentration of people buying the products. “We also sell in bazaars because we need to be visible, but most of the time, bazaars are expensive so medyo lugi because of the rent. As much as possible, I would try every weekend only, but not the whole month.”
His products are amazingly functional and beautiful. His rings have an adjustable feature that fits every buyer’s size and shape. The idea is ingenious as Edwin learns that the number of their plus-sized customers is increasing.
Venturing into jewelry was not really what Edwin set out to do.
“Actually, as a businessman, I would want to venture into food because I know how to cook and that’s actually my dream. But Copperazo found me. A friend wanted me to try jewelry crafting using copper wire. I got the hang of it and actually, became good at it,” he said.
“What made the business fulfilling for me was the discovery that I am artistic,” he said. “I became a self-taught crafter by just watching tutorial videos on Youtube and reading manuals.”
He said he would eventually want to go into export, but he admitted he needed to be more confident about his capability and his products.
“One time, I looked at a competitor’s products. I got depressed because her jewelry pieces were gorgeous. But then, she was an artist who studied design in college,” he said.
“I now have buyers from overseas. Hopefully, before I reach the age of 40, I will no longer have to be in a 9-to-5 job,” he said.
Copperazo accessories are available in Market Liberty, second floor, Evia Lifestyle Center in Las Piñas City.