A portrait of Ms. Claire Canilao, owner of Prime of Asia Handicraft

Business is tough but you have to love it to make it succeed. Moreover, growing a business is like raising a child, you need quick-thinking, problem-solving, and time-management skills.

These are the skills that Claire Canilao mainly uses in managing Prime of Asia Handicrafts, a Bohol-based business engaged in the manufacture of handmade accessories and home décor made of indigenous and sustainable materials such coco shells, raffia, and seashells.

A handcrafting enterprise is a meticulous business; thus, Claire relies on the scrupulous skills of mothers, who make up 80% of the workforce.

As a manager and a mother, herself, Claire was always meant to nurture achievement. She grew up in an entrepreneurial environment, with her parents and grandparents being businessmen. She did not stop studying after she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Management. After she got married, she went on to get another degree in Nursing. Armed with a strong business sense coupled with an expertise in care, she slowly got involved in business, eventually managing a successful enterprise, all while raising a family of her own.

It is normally difficult for mothers to have a career outside of their demanding maternal duties. However, Claire believes moms can earn for their families just as much as they can take care of them. This is the reason why she created a supportive working environment where moms can bring their children to the shop and look after them and stay productive.

Like motherhood, business is not all smiles and giggles. There are problems in access and supply of locally sourced material which are subject to erratic weather conditions. At the same time, Claire has to closely watch out for competitors. These conditions bring out the best female qualities in Claire.

“Women are very flexible, sensitive, strong, and optimistic,” says Claire who believes it is an advantage to have women in the workplace. For every challenge, she has a team of brilliant women who help her navigate through difficulties. Now, their products are not just available in souvenir shops in Bohol, these are now mostly sold in stories in Metro Manila like Balikbayan Handicrafts, Tesoro’s, and Rustan’s, among others.

Claire also credits the success of her business to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its programs such as product development and business mentoring. She gained exposure thanks to DTI’s free exhibits, including regional and national trade fairs. Recently, Claire participated in DTI’s online training for marketing amidst the pandemic. Like motherhood, business fulfills Claire. “You do work not only for money but also for what makes you happy and fulfilled,” she says. And having both a happy family at home and a successful business outside is proof that motherhood is a valuable force for the industry.♦

Date of Release: 17 September 2020