Filipinos have the world’s longest celebration of the Christmas season, which started officially on September 1 and will not end until January of next year.
Earlier this month — well, on September 1, to be exact — a number of Christmas-related posts trended on Twitter. From Pasko to Christmas to Jose Mari Chan, netizens were abuzz talking about the advent of the holiday season, the most well-loved among Filipinos.
For a Seattle-based Filipino-owned business however, Christmas happens year-round.
Margie Adrada is the president of Dekorasyon Gifts and Décor, a company that specializes in high quality, innovative and unique holiday & home décor items and accessories.
A proud Filipino-American, Adrada says that all the products they have are sourced out from the Philippines.
“100 percent of our products, including me, are made in the Philippines,” Margie said laughing when we met her at the recent NY NOW show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the leading tradeshow for the home, lifestyle and gift market. “Every single thing you see here in our booth and in our website is from the Philippines.”
Indeed, a deliberate look at what her team has brought to the show reveals a holiday collection with festive Christmas decors worthy to be displayed in every American home.
The Christmas decorations industry in the Philippines is driven by a strong tradition of creativity, allowing suppliers to produce models that come in unique designs and materials, according to a Global Sources sourcing report.
Adrada founded Dekorasyon in 2003 and through the years, they have steadily built a loyal customer base across the United States and most of them have been working with the company from the get go.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own business, even when I was growing up. I tried to learn from the best of the best, and eventually, I outgrew that and so I said, I will try to do my own thing,” Adrada shared.
She spent 15 years with Nordstrom prior to starting Dekorasyon, which initially started as a retailer, going to various holiday gift shows.
Adrada realized that it would be better for the business if it ventured into the wholesale side of it. She did her own studies and researched how to get her hands into the multitude of products that can be sold to the American-buying public.
“This market craves for artisan-made products, not those manufactured by machines,” Adrada shared. “There is a market for hand-made, unique products. China can try to copy but they can’t quite have that touch.”
For the past few years, China has been steadily growing their own market share by offering low cost because of their high-volume production.
As a businesswoman, Adrada is steadfast in pushing for the higher quality products that Filipino artisans churn out, and she is not alone as many like-minded people in the industry put a premium on artisan-made products using unique components.
“We definitely hit a niche, there’s a niche market that absolutely loves unique merchandise. Nothing that you see at big box stores like Target,” she added.
Dekorasyon expanded into home décor and gifts aside from keeping all the Christmas-related decorations and ornaments crafted from all natural materials indigenous to the Philippines such as gleaming, pearlescent Capiz shell, fragrant acacia wood and reclaimed, sustainable wood.
With suppliers coming from across the islands in the Philippines, along with factories in Bulacan and Quezon City, Adrada is assured of a steady supply of products any day of the year.
The company brought about 500 items for the NY NOW show, including their Christmas trees made out of leaves remain to be one of their bestsellers and the market is getting bigger and bigger every year.
“We’re probably sold out at this point. I’m nervous about inventory,” Adrada said. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Indeed, considering that when we did the interview, it was a couple of weeks before September, considered by many Filipinos across the globe as the official start of the Christmas season.
Dekorasyon has also established showrooms in Las Vegas and Atlanta. The company is also active in attending national and regional gift shows such as NY NOW.
In this kind of business, Adrada said that their clients, the retailers and small business owners, are the lifeblood of their operations. This is why she makes sure that there is a strong, repeat customer base that she nurtures, aside from developing new customer relationships.
In order to do that, the products she hawks to the clients need to be of the highest quality. From sinamay and capiz shells to Christmas trees made of dried leaves or driftwood, each and every single Dekorasyon product has Adrada’s stamp of approval.
“I love being able to say that the products we have are made in the Philippines. I love being able to say that it is where I am originally from,” she shared. “I think my customers connect that with me and at this point, our loyal customers know that the quality of our products is topnotch.”
And in order to successfully compete with the bigger companies – Adrada and her team make their own designs and make sure that the factories don’t release any of their patterns.
Among the new products they have are new styles of Christmas trees using a combination of components. They also put in new looks and new colors to their bestsellers to make sure that there is always something new for the clients.
“It’s a cliché but I can say I am proud to sell Philippine-made products. We’re happy that we have the full support of the factories, vendors and designers back home,” she added.