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Fashion brand PH reshapes its business to protect frontliners

Despite the challenges that have plagued her business and the rest of the fashion retail industry, Filipino brand BAYO remains committed to its goal of using its platform to help others and have a positive impact on the market. company.
Filipino fashion brand BAYO is embarking on the production of PPE.

“One of the most important lessons our company has learned from this crisis is that adversity should not prevent us from helping,” said Anna Lagon, CEO of BAYO. “Focusing on helping others not only motivated our entire team to continue to be productive, but also opened up strategic partnerships that have kept our operations going, empowering more people. and even inspire product innovations. Since the start of the pandemic, BAYO has strengthened its ties with the Philippine Textile Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, the office of the vice president and the local government units of Pasig, Baguio and Kapangan Benguet. Being one of the few Philippine fashion retail brands with a manufacturing facility in the country, it has shifted from manufacturing ready-to-wear clothing to producing personal protective equipment for hospitals in front-line and medically-examined masks for consumers, government offices and businesses, which has allowed BAYO to keep its production workers and employ additional skilled sewers.

Save the frontliners

Even before the pandemic, BAYO had worked with PTRI to elevate and expand the use of local textiles to support the garment industry’s broader value chain, make sourcing more accessible to other local brands, and provide the ways to make a living for more Filipinos, from the farmers who propagate and raise the plants that become raw materials, to the weavers and sewers who make the clothes, to the retailers in both online and offline channels. In February 2020, due to growing concerns over COVID-19, BAYO contacted PTRI for the manufacture of sheet masks capable of resisting liquid droplets and effectively covering the nostrils and mouth. The company started making masks the previous month in response to the Taal volcano eruption, produced 10,000 sets, and distributed them to ashfall affected areas through the OVP. “The reason we wanted to explore fabric mask manufacturing was primarily due to our sustainability advocacy, which we have been actively promoting for several years. We were concerned about the use of disposable masks because of their negative impact on the environment, ”said Lagon. As BAYO began to refine his masks to be more effective against the virus, he again received a call from the OVP asking if he could make PPE. “We were hesitant at first due to our lack of knowledge in the manufacture of medical PPE and the logistics of mobilizing people during the early stages of the lockdown. However, seeing reports of deaths of frontline hospital staff due to the country’s insufficient supply of PPE has prompted us to rise to the challenge, ”said Lagon. “Opening our facility for the OVP was easy, but convincing our employees to report to work during the outbreak was a difficult decision to make. But to our surprise, everyone answered our call. The common reason? This is our way of helping frontliners tackle covid 19. Everyone was enthusiastic about working, showing up early and doing their jobs efficiently, even with minimal supervision and mobility constraints. due to security protocols. In order to ensure the health and safety of its employees, BAYO provided shuttle services between their home and its production site and set up an in-house catering service to provide lunch and snacks. The OVP organized transport assistance for employees who lived far away and for their PPE to be assessed and approved by medical experts. BAYO’s initial foray into making masks for the PTRI and PPE for the OVP opened the door to orders from private companies, LGUs and other government agencies. This allowed the company to involve other communities to help with the orders, thus providing these people with a livelihood during the lockdown. “When Pasig’s LGU requirements arrived, we tapped the sewers from five of its barangays to help us with production,” Lagon said. Exposure to the backbone of PPE manufacturing allowed BAYO to launch new merchandise that would excite consumers in containment. “We started to produce fashionable masks and workwear inspired by PPE. We have introduced masks with adjustable buckles that can be tied behind the ears or the head, and have come up with a bespoke coat made from water-resistant fabrics that users can wear over their clothing as extra protection. These have become bestsellers and we continue to add new models every month, ”said Lagon. “We have also strengthened and modernized our e-commerce site, www.styleshops.com.ph, so consumers can shop from the comfort of their own homes. Income for the past two years may still fall short of pre-pandemic figures as Filipinos struggled with reduced incomes, travel and gatherings were banned. In addition, BAYO has had to intermittently close its stores in areas where strengthened community quarantines have been put in place. Sales fell during the months of March through May, which was the high season for fashion retailing when Filipinos were shopping for proms, graduations, summer vacation and partying. mothers. Nevertheless, BAYO’s pivots and innovations help to secure its future. “We had given up on our usual profits when we agreed to manufacture face masks and PPE for the OVP, Pasig City and PTRI. We cannot in conscience attribute huge profits to the misery of others. What is essential for us is to be able to support the country’s efforts to fight the pandemic. It is enough that we can simply continue to pay the wages of our workers to help them during the closures. ”

Goal

Even before the pandemic, BAYO had incorporated its objective into its business model. “The 5Ps guide our business – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. Planet is focused on protecting our natural resources and the climate for future generations. People aim to end poverty and hunger in all their forms and to ensure dignity and equality. Taking care of our people has always been our priority. Prosperity is about ensuring shared economic growth for all of our stakeholders. Peace means fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies, while partnership covers building local and global partnerships to implement and accelerate our goals. Seeing how the global fashion industry has become the second biggest polluter in the world, after the oil sector, and contributes up to 10% of carbon emissions, the company chose to mark its 25th anniversary in 2017 by launching “Journey to Zero”, a circular economy initiative that reduces its environmental footprint. “We have already innovated in the way we use fabrics to reduce waste by 35% to 5%. When our recycling plant opens in 2022, we will be able to process the remaining 5% to achieve zero waste manufacturing. It also enlisted Green Story, a third-party auditor based in Toronto, Canada, to monitor Bayo’s greenhouse gas emissions. BAYO became a participating member of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest initiative calling on companies to align their strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, the environment, labor and the fight against corruption. The company strengthened its adherence to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the eradication of poverty and hunger, the promotion of gender equality, the provision of decent work and the practice of responsible consumption. “The pandemic has been very difficult for our business, but it is important that we do what we can to foster more sustainable cities and communities where Filipinos can lead more dignified lives. BAYO has supported various weaving communities in Bulacan, Benguet, Aklan and Cebu. He partnered with PureOceans, a marine conservation social enterprise that collects and diverts plastic waste, and helped PTRI, Cordillera DOST Administrative Region and LGU of Kapangan, Benguet revive the sericulture industry. community and provide additional income to women farmers. A collection from this collaboration will debut in November 2021 during National Science and Technology Week. Her efforts have been recognized by the UN 2021 Women’s Empowerment Principles, which recently awarded BAYO the title of Champion for Gender-Responsive Marketplace and was the second finalist for the category: Community Engagement and Partnerships. Lagon hopes to motivate other Filipino businesses to pursue their goal and find their own way to help others while encouraging government and ordinary consumers to recognize the critical role of local businesses in economic recovery, resilience and sustainability. . “Fashion is part of the creative industry at large, which is a significant advantage right now. We need creativity to innovate and constantly think about ways to cope. Our sector can generate jobs with the support of well-meaning individuals, organizations and government who have the most ability to stimulate our economy. Supporting local businesses is not just a motto or a marketing drama. This is what we need to effectively support each other’s lives.

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Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds