Muni on this:
“What if trash could quite literally be turned into treasure?”
On recent trip to Dumaguete, after Muni’s Clean-Up Dive at Liquid Dumaguete’s Sunday Funday, I had the unique opportunity to meet the ladies of Lumago Designs, an upcycled jewelry brand founded by Whitney Fleming, who met the Lumago ladies in 2010 through her work at a local NGO.
Inspired by the women’s talent and desire, Whitney dedicated her time to helping market the products designed by the Lumago ladies. “Beauty can transform out of what we perceive as trash, and inspiration and creativity can come from the perceived peasant when given an opportunity”, says Whitney.
Whitney with the Lumago ladies: Nancy, Mila, Jenelyn, Wing Wing, and Haluwina
Left: Lumago Designs idea board where the ladies post prototypes for upcoming collections.Right: My personal favorite among necklaces, which is made with upcycled paper beads, upcycled leather, and scrap fabric. I especially love how these particular beads look almost like shells except that it’s a million times better because no shells were actually taken away from the beach for this necklace (A whole other post is required to talk about that issue, really).
Lumago Designs is passionate about using as many upcycled materials as possible, through the use of recycled paper (they use no coloring for the paper beads and only rely on the color of the paper itself!), recycled leather, pull tabs, fabric, and other useful materials they buy off of those who manage to find usable materials from the dump site right beside this community.
Whitney is also conscious about not dictating design ideas to the Lumago ladies, and not making them rely too much on just what they see in magazines. They’ve proven time and again that they’re capable of producing great designs with their own creativity, and Whitney empowers them by encouraging them to explore their creative intuition more and simply providing suggestions on how they can tweak designs. “All I have done is offered an opportunity and it is them who have seized it. I feel so blessed to be in a place that I can see what magic can come from just opening a door”, shares Whitney.
Mock photo boothing with Whitney, whose giving and gregarious personality is absolutely endearing. 🙂
“It’s inspiring to be a part of something than oneself. For me, that is the essence of living a quality life: connect to something larger than you”, Whitney adds, further validating her as a Cultural Creative. “I would love to see a transition in the united effort for living more sustainably. I want the concept of green living and fair trade to go beyond the trend and be demanded as a standard.”
The efforts of social enterprises can only go so far if buyers don’t support and demand a certain product or way of doing business. When we choose to buy products that are beautifully made by a community, that is equivalent to empowering communities because our patronage is not out of pity, but because they actually created something of value. And when we choose to buy products made with more eco-friendly materials, we demand entrepreneurs, manufacturers and industrial designers to really rethink how they create their products as well.
Learn more about Lumago’s story on this video by Whitney’s other half, and lauded underwater photographer & videographer, Steve de Neef.
[vimeo 58945462 w=500 h=281]
How else do you think your purchases can help you and a community?
* Lumago Designs is available at the Muni Pop-Up Shop Online! Buy our favorite Lumago pieces here. 🙂