Interview with ANTHILL Fabric Gallery

I might have mentioned that I am all about communities that work together and help each other. Helping farmers, designers and locals grow their businesses is not just about finding that gem but you are also helping local livelihoods in a time where it’s all about consumerism. How many times have we thought: the cheaper, the better! This means you can shop more, right? However, we need to realise that quality and strengthening communities is way better than quantity.

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During our travels in Cebu, we visited a team that does exactly that! Everything is sourced and made locally! ANTHILL weaves their own fabric making beautiful garments and accessories producing zero waste as they have a stunning range whereby everything is made from left-over fabric. What? Whaaaat? So you can imagine that I was elated and couldn’t contain my excitement and I wanted to buy everything. If you travel to Cebu, this has to be on your list of musts!

The founder, Anya Lim, answered a few of my questions so my readers can get to know their story and what they are about.

1. What is the history of Anthill? When was it founded and why? 

ANTHILL (Alternative Nest and Trading/Training Hub for Ingenious/ Indigenous Little Livelihood seekers) was established last February 2010. We were incorporated in May 2015. ANTHILL is a fulfilment of a shared dream between my mother (the Queen Ant) and I (the Princess Ant). Coming from experience in the development sector working in fundraising, I have witnessed how programs and projects in the field can still be largely dependent on aid which does not entirely give stakeholders a sense of ownership. More often than not, it also does not lead to sustainability. I was seeking out for solutions to address this and social entrepreneurship was the answer. My fascination with the Filipino indigenous culture and my dream to work for its preservation alongside my mom’s business experience in the fabric industry led us to start ANTHILL.

In ANTHILL, we take cultural degradation and unemployment as serious social issues. The death of the weaving culture has changed the dynamics of family and village life. It shifted value systems and disrupted learning methods, which lead to a weak sense of identity amongst the youth. The lack of opportunities in the countryside also led the youth to migrate to urban areas and assimilate to a negative environment.

We want to create a positive impact and provide a sustainable livelihood. We want Filipinos to leverage on the skills and resources where they are at without having to seek for greener pastures elsewhere. We want to celebrate culture by elevating the value of our weaves. We envision every Filipino to value their identity and embody it in their way of life. We want every Filipino to weave and wear their tribe with pride.  

2. What is your business in 2 to 5 words?
ANTHILL is a social enterprise celebrating tradition through contemporary and circular design to provide a sustainable livelihood.
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3. What makes Anthill different and stand out from other brands?
At the core of ANTHILL’s work is sustainability. What sets us apart from other brands is our Community Enterprise Development Program. Here, we build the entrepreneurial capacity of our partner community enterprises so they are able to professionalise their business and become self-reliant. Our strength in community building allows us to establish long-term partnerships with the communities we work with that support the needs of a sustainable and inclusive business value chain. This flagship program is also the basis of our impact metrics and serves as our accountability check if we are achieving the positive social and environmental impact we envision.   
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4. Does this mean you’d consider the business as fairtrade?
 
Yes.
5. What inspires you?
When I am able to witness growth from among the movement of proud weave wearers, our team and the community partners we work with. More than anything, it’s inspiring to see young women now take pride in weaving and in wearing weaves.
6. What do you love about your team?
I have a lean but mean team. They are very young, dynamic and have an incessant desire for growth and learning. I can also confidently say that they passionately share the values we uphold in ANTHILL. They are committed and passionately work towards achieving our shared goals.
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7. How do you measure success?
To me, success is being able to live out your truth and your fullest potential.
In ANTHILL, we measure our success indicators not just by profit but also in the level of income and savings gained by our partners, the number of young weavers, the number of upcycled materials and the improvement in the well being of our partner artisans.
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8. What are some of your favourite items at Anthill?
Lots! I’m drawn to our best sellers Panyo Kapa, Panyo Skirts and the scarves as they are so versatile and easy to wear. My current favourite our zero waste line.
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See? Told you it’s an amazing initiative! I love my fabric and passport pouch!
If you would like to buy anything, you can always check out their facebook page here
Follow ANTHILL on Instagram to see the energetic stories!
~ M & I

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