Samar-based ‘banig’ fashion brand looks for rebuilding support via Kickstarter

LOS ANGELES –  A fashion brand that uses banig, or hand-woven sleeping mats, for its fashion accessories is looking for help in recovering and rebuilding their facilities, and the lives of the Filipino weavers, embroiders, and artisans that comprise their company.

When Typhoon Haiyan hit Central Philippines in 2013, a lot of families, communities, businesses and local economies were essentially leveled to the ground.

Banago—a “cottage industry” that produces hand-woven bags and home accessories crafted in the Philippines—is one of the thousands that were direly affected by the worst storm of the century.

And now, Banago Founder and Creative Director Renee Patron, a native of Guian Samar, together with US-based nonprofit Livelihood United, is asking the Internet—and the whole world—for financial support in rebuilding Banago’s facilities in Southern Samar, one of the first regions to bear the brunt of Haiyan’s destructive force.

Banago and Livelihood United are soliciting for rebuilding funds via Kickstarter—an internet-based crowdsourcing tool that allows anyone anywhere in the world to pour donations in any amount to fund a project of their choice.

“We decided to go with Kickstarter and crowdfunding because we knew this was a way people could actually purchase the products. When there are purchases there is production. When there is production there are jobs for the artisans,” Patron said.

Patron, a 15-year veteran in international fashion marketing and distribution, named her company from Banago beach in Samar, where her mother was born and raised. When her parents migrated to the US, Patron’s father worked two jobs as the breadwinner of the family, while her mother took sewing jobs to earn income while watching the kids at home.

“Now today that woman is who Banago supports. Our Banago weavers and embroiderers do their work from home while they take care of the children, this is what we call a ‘cottage industry,” Patron said to Asian Journal.

Kickstarting the rebuilding

According to Banago’s Kickstarter page (, their rebuilding project will only be funded if at least $15,000 is pledged by supporters or “backers” by Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, 10:14pm PDT. If the funds raised to not reach that benchmark when the deadline comes around, all the money is wired back to the backers.

As of press date, Banago has 43 backers who have pledged a total of $5,032. Minimum donation is only $1, and has no limit on how much a backer can donate. While their current total is a long way off from their benchmark goal, supporters still have 18 more days to raise the rest of the amount before the Kickstarter page closes.

Backers will receive various rewards, depending on how much they pledge.

For $1 or more, a backer will get a ‘thank you’ email that details how the Kickstarter made a difference in the lives of the families who get their livelihood from Banago.

For higher pledge “levels,” backers will get various products as rewards, including sunglass cases, clutch handbags, tote bags, and laptop cases—all handwoven by Banago artisans in Samar.

“Instead of asking donors to merely back a nonprofit project, we’re showing the world how you, as Banago backers, can breathe new life directly into a promising business that can immediately resume production and provide sustainable livelihood to hundreds of local farmers and artisans,” Livelihood United Director Chris Williams said.

(LA Weekend August 30 – September 2, 2014 Sec. B pg.2)

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