In the early months of COVID-19, many of us grappled with losses — lost freedom, lost loved ones, lost jobs, among other things. But as the new normal lingered, Filipinos found their way to overcome the challenges: Creative and innovative ideas flourished, and small businesses arose.
Also read: What’s It Like to Start a ‘Quarantine Business’ for Filipinos?
Not to romanticise resiliency, but it is true as much as it is admirable: Filipinos have indeed gone through so much, but have bounced back with fervour for new beginnings. As consumers, the least we can do is support this creative spirit! And fortunately, this isn’t too hard for us at all.
Now that there are so many independent brands out there, we’re enjoying supporting local in even the simplest ways. We cherry-picked our favourite Instagram stores in the Philippines that sell cheap and cute items that are all handmade with love! Read on, get to know the artisans, and keep them in mind for future, purposeful shopping.
8 Underrated Instagram stores for cheap and cute finds
1. Anahata Resin Crafts
Instagram Account: Anahata Resin Crafts
What they sell: Custom keychains, necklaces, earrings, coasters, and trays made of resin
Price range: ₱190 to ₱540
Anahata Resin Crafts was founded in September 2020, when Cristina Wieneke decided it was time to connect with her community during COVID-19. Since then, the part-time teacher, part-time Family Life and Child Development Master’s student has been a part-time crafter as well, juggling all her roles only with the help of her fur pal, Morris.
“We wanted to share much-needed love through the little ways we could. And to us, one way we could do that was through opening this little shop!” she tells TripZilla Philippines.
“‘Hands to work, hearts to God,’ is a little quote we really love. We do our very best to channel this same love into each piece we handcraft. Currently, we focus on creating custom pieces, crafting them as mindfully as possible. We hope that the pieces add lots of light and good energy to our customers!”
2. The Clay Project
Instagram Account: theclayproject.ph
What they sell: Polymer clay earrings
Price range: ₱180 to ₱400
Although it has been a long dream of Kars Hernandez to found The Clay Project, it was only during the pandemic that she finally pushed through. “I have struggled a lot in my creative journey a few years ago,” she tells us. “The thought of not being good enough always struck me. I knew in my heart that I’ve always wanted to start somewhere, but I’ve always had excuses.”
Also read: 18 Artsy Instagram Accounts to Follow for Creative Inspiration
Now in her late twenties, Kars has finally launched her passion project. “This pandemic has indeed been an eye-opener for me. It made me realise the value of time. I can’t just let excuses hinder me from doing what I really love: to be able to share my art and craft to everyone. Since I had plenty of time because of our current work-from-home setup, I was able to research, practice, and do my branding. Indeed, all I needed was a whole lot of courage to get everything started.”
“My products are thoughtfully handcrafted. Each and every pair is one-of-a-kind and personal to everyone. The goal is to share not just my art, but also my heart — and I think this is what sets me apart from other artisans and big brands.”
3. Allegra Embroidery
Instagram Account: allegra.embroidery
What they sell: Embroidered pieces
Price range: Starts at ₱300
A licenced landscape architect, Christine Endencia started Allegra Embroidery as a hobby. “I was itching to do something creative during the lockdown, so I tried out embroidery,” she tells us. “It was love at first stitch!”
For Christmas, Christine made customised hand-embroidered cards for her friends. “They loved it! That made me want to open up a shop where I can share my art with more people, not just for me or my family or my friends.”
As of writing, Christine has created greeting cards, designed shirts, and even home decor! “People can expect a lot more from me and my brand! I love learning new techniques, more mixed media options, and a lot more items where my embroidery can be done,” she reveals. “I’d love to showcase my own art as well — and curate them in my own items.”
4. Bunch Bangle
Instagram Account: Bunch Bangle
What they sell: Scrunchies
Price range: ₱25 – ₱50
Bunch Bangle PH started as a passion project of April Mariano, who has always been an aspiring entrepreneur. “Before the pandemic, I decided to leave my job in the hopes to find better opportunity and purpose as an entrepreneur.”
Although April has owned a sewing machine for a while, it was only during the quarantine that she learned how to sew. Eventually, she started selling her handmade satin silk scrunchies, which are now the best-sellers of her shop.
“I am very passionate about making every product,” she tells us. “I want to continuously look for ways to improve the customer experience with our brand.”
At the moment, April spends most of her time managing Bunch Bangle. Her small business has even expanded enough to allow resellers! “Some of my resellers are either teens or students. They give me the motivation to work harder. It is an honour to be one of those who help these young entrepreneurs.”
Instagram Account: thelobe.ph
What they sell: Polymer clay and bead earrings
Price range: ₱200 to ₱300
Artsy and chic, @thelobe.ph products truly stand out among the many polymer clay Instagram stores. To this, we were surprised that the brand is actually owned by two young women!
“We’re a sister-duo behind @thelobe.ph,” Yamilla Zapanta, 18, tells us. “My sister Yashleigh, who is 15, is our clay master! She designs and crafts every piece. Self-taught too!”
Yamilla and Yashleigh started @thelobe.ph during the pandemic, when they wanted an avenue to escape. “Our parents asked us, ‘What is it you love to do? Do that.’ We’ve always loved polymer clay but only really took the time to set up @thelobe.ph during the pandemic. It became our way of keeping productive — a help to pull us out of the rut. We’re just so glad that other people loved what we do as well!”
The Zapanta sisters believe that it’s their sisterhood that gives their brand an edge. “Our earrings are products of different inspirations rolled into one. We actually get ideas off of different things — from shelves to abstract artists to even bridges! All our earrings are made by hand, so no moulds or stencils in our workshop! You’ll definitely see designs that were carefully thought of, shape-forms that are unique to @thelobe.ph.”
6. Ima Clay Crafts
Instagram Account: IMA Clay Crafts
What they sell: Polymer clay earrings, necklaces, and keychains
Price range: Starts at ₱99
When she lost her job in August 2020, Mae Lico revisited childhood hobbies. “I could’ve wallowed in sadness and self-pity; but somehow, that circumstance allowed me to start Ima Clay Crafts.”
“For a month or two, I researched if it was possible to make my clay crafts profitable. I had managed to save a small amount of money from my previous job. This fund was supposed to shoulder my board exams, but the pandemic postponed this dream. So, I used the fund to invest in tools and materials for Ima Clay Crafts.”
“Made with hands and heart — this is the tagline of Ima Clay Crafts, because I think what sets the brand apart is how every creation is an expression of myself. I might not be as good as other clay artists, but I see to it that I make each piece unique and special. I keep the flaws in my products, because I see the beauty in handmade products.”
7. Sunny’s Stitches
Instagram Account: sunnys.stitches
What they sell: Personalised hand-stitched crafts
Price range: Starts at ₱300
Sunny’s Stitches was a surprising venture for Sunshine Dasmariñas. When the lockdown was enforced, she was in Cebu for her grandmother’s birthday. “I was stranded, and because of the circumstances, I had to let go of my job.”
“I didn’t bring enough clothes with me in Cebu, so I decided to make some. That’s when I started crocheting again,” Sunny reveals. “Eventually, my friends encouraged me to open Sunny’s Stitches on Instagram. They were my first customers.”
Sunny is currently a one-woman team. “I make all my products. I buy all of my materials. Most of the time, though, my clients choose the colours. Most of my made-to-orders products are collaborations with my clients.”
“For me, I don’t just make items,” she continues. As Sunny works closely with her clients, she makes sure each piece tells their stories. “Everything is indeed hand-stitched with love.”
Instagram Account: Desiderata
What they sell: Peg dolls and paintings
Price range: ₱200 to ₱350
A product of retrospection during the pandemic, Desiderata was Cham Canilao’s first step to entrepreneurship. “I always wanted to share my art, but I was too afraid before. Back then, I was content with creating for myself and keeping everything private.”
When she started posting her artwork online, Cham’s friends would ask her to make peg dolls for them. “With Desiderata, I finally decided to share my art to others,” she says. “While I was afraid at first, I also had the bigger mission to share my profit to those in need.”
Now that she creates personalised peg dolls for customers, Cham relishes in the idea that her art gets to go home with those who find meaning in them. “Desiderata aims to produce art which not only impacts the eye’s sensory, but also brings about deeper emotions. I want to help customers cherish their valued memories through my art.”
Also read: 5 Ways You Can Support Small Online Businesses
These underrated Instagram stores and their owners remind us remarkably that Filipino entrepreneurs of all ages have sprouted during the pandemic. Cheers to local craftsmanship!