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From the founder

Thank you for visiting Elle Karayan. By purchasing through our online store, you are empowering a number of weavers in the Philippines and inspiring them to keep these living traditions alive. And if you don't end up purchasing, I hope that this website has somehow inspired you and educated you in some ways you never thought it would. 

Growing up in Metro Manila, I've always been curious about where we came from and how all these transitions from pre-colonial Philippines to what it already was when I was born came to be. I have traveled all over the Philippines experiencing different places. At first, all those visits were vacations with an interest in being able to talk to local people and experiencing their ways of life. I always wanted to be right by the water. Experiencing food, lifestyle and practices of people. What was once a bi-weekly getaway turned into traveling to learn different cultural traditions and practices.

I was born and raised Catholic by my parents. Went to catholic schools all my life but for the longest time, felt that something was always missing. In search of my spirituality, I have woven different aspects of culture together sourcing from the core of spirituality where I think these woven patterns are made out of. Slowly, relationships were made with weaving communities, tradition bearers of dance and music even native indigenous people coming from lineages of many land dwellers all over the archipelago that have kept these living traditions inspired Elle Karayan. 

I was a corporate slave for many years in my career life and moving all over the place have caused me joy, heartbreaks, pains and many experience that normal people experience. At one point, I decided to leave the corporate world and have moved on to ventures that I find more passionate about. It was a process that full of both graceful and clumsy transitions until I was slowly headed to the path that I was most fulfilled with.

Moving from the Motherland to the diaspora has shifted my yearning even deeper. It's one thing to be within and another thing to be away. I was fortunate enough to be able to come across KulArts led by Alleluia Panis where I joined a few productions as a performing artist. The organization was more than presentor of contemporary Pilipinx arts, but was a lifetime influence and mentorship program that I still carry until now. I embarked on a few Tribal Tours with Alleluia that have sparked many threads as I was slowly building Elle Karayan. Alongside, I've immersed in many communities in the diaspora that enlightened this capacity of what it is now also a part of the Elle Karayan team's livelihood. 

These living traditions have been devalued over centuries of colonization. The mentality of the population have shifted to these aspects being part of their lifestyle, to it being taboo. Part of the mission of Elle Karayan is to drive the value of these handcrafted artisan work by:

  • Making sure Elle Karayan enables these weavers, artists and creators to keep these traditional practices by making it their livelihood

  • Promote appreciation of weaving practices by bringing their products to a curious market like North America where a lot of Pilipinx are looking to connect with their identity through rediscovering different aspects of their culture.​

  • Tell the story of these woven patterns. What are they about? Where did they come from? How does it relate to the individual experiences of the artisans who made them? 

  • Feature actual weavers, designers and artisans. Put them on a glorious position where they can be proud of themselves and their work 

  • Inspire younger generations coming from these communities to keep doing these practices exemplifying its appreciation, not only within their communities but all over the world

Behind all of this, there is a belief in balancing profit and impact. It has been a slow but really progressive process to really dig deep into these communities. I'm looking to do more and learn more.  As a Pilipinx in the diaspora, I'm taking each day one step at a time, one relationship at a time and one thread at time. 

Agyaman Ak!