Arts & Culture
From Oprah to MoMA Catalog: Filipino Designer's Clutch is a Hit
Carissa Cruz Evangelista's clutch makes it to the Museum of Modern Art Design Store's catalog.
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Like the museum where it is housed, the MoMA Design Store has a selective process. The merchandise also has to be reviewed by the Museum of Modern Art curators. Being included in the MoMA store catalog is a recognition of value, both commercial and artistic.


Carissa Evangelista's Cheska clutch


Filipino designer Carissa Cruz Evangelista has made it to this curated list. Her Cheska clutch is being sold by the MoMA Design Store as an “exclusive.” Its woven texture, flamboyant colors, and geometric swipes make it a notch above a mere accessory. It is a fine example of what Filipino designers do well—use local materials to great visual effect.

Evangelista talks to Town&Country about this exciting development for her accessories brand Beatriz.

Your accessories were among Oprah's Favorite Things for 2016 and now you're in the MoMa Store's catalog. How did all this happen?
For Oprah's list, we were discovered at the NY NOW trade show last August at the Jacob Javits Center. My brand Beatriz caught the eye of Oprah magazine's style editor Rae Ann Herman and creative director Adam Glassman at our booth in the Philippine Pavilion lead by CITEM. We were asked if we could produce the quantity needed to be part of Oprah's Favorite Things and we took a chance. I was really nervous to commit to dates of delivery and requested that I do them on a staggered basis. Now our brand is somewhat recognized in the U.S. and sells across different states because of the Oprah break.


Then Beatriz became part of Maison et Objet in Paris last September. A MoMA buyer asked if we could develop accessories for her in the spring colors she identified. We worked with Bianca Monzon-Cuevas of Agence Le Bon Mot in Paris to help us with our follow-up and the RJM group for the setup of a showroom where we could iron out a system of delivery. We sent our samples to the New York MoMA board and luckily we qualified for the next round. MoMA just launched the piece from our first delivery on its catalog site, which sells to its members in the U.S. and Japan. We will be sending our second delivery soon.

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Beatriz clutch in Oprah's Favorite Things

What inspires you to promote Filipino-made accessories?
It's really a passion. I love the Philippines and the work that comes from our artisans and manufacturers. I believe we will be able to help promote business in the Philippines by helping ourselves and providing more work.

Are there other products aside from the Cheska clutch that will be sold at the MoMA Store?
We will launch another colorway soon and we hope to be able to continue working with MoMA.

What does this mean for Filipino artisans and indigenous products?
When Beatriz and other Filipino brands are able to sell in prestigious stores worldwide, it's not only an opportunity for the brands and designers, but also an opportunity to help give livelihood to women in various communities.

What other dreams are you in the process of fulfilling?
I want this to be a sustainable business. Now I am learning the ropes of creating designs for many seasons simultaneously. It can be confusing but the experience is very rewarding. I really believe that one step will lead to the next, and that with prayer, all is possible.

I almost gave up so many times. The road to entrepreneurship is never smooth. But somehow I was blessed to receive real guidance from others and I went through a lot of humbling experiences to propel this business forward. I am blessed to have my family, my mom, my dad, my husband, my kids my aunts, my grandmother, cousins, and friends, who are all very honest with me about what is needed to take this business to the next level. I am also very blessed to have my Bella Trading girls and the artisans who continue to work with us.

In business, if you don't have someone to drive the truck, you have to drive it. You also need to have faith and be willing to take chances.

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One dream of mine to have Beatriz working with communities or in collaboration with other designers and producers nationwide. In Thailand, Queen Sirikit supported the development of the silk industry and promulgated it across the country. This brought about the development of beautiful Thai garments, bags and accessories, and home furnishings. I have no idea when this will happen in the Philippines or in what industry, but I know there are many like-minded people in our country who want to help and are proud of our culture. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

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Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
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Nicole Limos
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