Passion and dedication lead to success in the world of handicrafts.

From humble beginnings with just one worker, RCB Crafts and Designs now employs over 200 skilled artisans in Tabaco City, Albay. Crafting beautiful and sustainable handbags, baskets, mats, and hats, this family-run business has gained international recognition for its heirloom-quality creations. Using traditional materials like abaca, raffia, and seagrass, RCB Crafts and Designs founder Rochelle Briones and her team of talented homemakers have mastered the art of handmade goods and are making their mark in the European market.

Heirloom asset

RCB Crafts and Designs, a thriving Filipino business, is generating impressive annual revenues of Php1 million by exporting 30% of its goods directly to Japanese buyers. Striving for global success, the company’s artisan-crafted products also found customers in Brazil and across the European Union (EU).

Since 2017, Rochelle has been expanding the family business by exporting to European countries. Hand-selecting designs that appeal to EU buyers’ tastes and preferences, Rochelle’s artisans often add a personal touch by hand-embroidering phrases such as “au revoir” and “merci” on exported handbags, ensuring that their products stand out in this highly competitive market.

Indirect route to Europe

The Philippine-made products are making their way to international buyers in Europe, specifically through Larone Crafts based in Makati City. Rochelle takes pride in expanding her export market to European buyers and is actively exploring more opportunities to reach them directly. With government support, she is well on her way to achieving this goal.

Government support paves the way

Rochelle is grateful to the Philippine government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for extending an invitation to participate in the Ambiente trade fair in Germany. She acknowledges the power of attending trade shows in building B2B relationships and networking opportunities. Thanks to the support and guidance from the DTI, Rochelle has had successful exports to Hong Kong, Thailand, and Japan. The DTI’s assistance in product development, particularly on market-driven design trends, has been instrumental in her success.

Rochelle also feels privileged to have attended sessions by handicraft designers, thanks to DTI’s invitation. With expert guidance provided by DTI on designing products based on market trends, RCB Crafts and Designs has successfully expanded its export business. The company has been invited to product critiquing sessions with designers experienced in handicrafts, which have been instrumental in their growth.

Additionally, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) provided RCB Crafts and Designs with essential support in production, packaging, and documentation-related matters. This assistance has enabled the company to complete vendor requirements and prepare all necessary documentation to begin exporting independently.

Rochelle credits these partnerships for the crucial role they played in her business’ success. With the knowledge acquired through these collaborations, RCB Crafts and Designs is poised to continue growing and thriving in the international marketplace.

Exploring the EU market with ARISE Plus Philippines

Rochelle, fueled by a burning desire to take bold risks and push beyond her comfort zone, expanded into the EU market. This determination was recently highlighted during her attendance at the EU-Philippines Conference, organized by the ARISE Plus Philippines project—an event that solidified her resolve to secure direct buyers within the EU market. Rochelle’s unwavering commitment to product customization and customer satisfaction makes her confident in her ability to successfully conduct direct exports to the European market.

Empowering communities: a business that makes a difference

Rochelle’s business benefits extend to the communities she supports. As a proud employer of skilled homemakers from her region, she takes pride in showcasing their talents on the global stage.

With increasing orders from clients, Rochelle can generate more income for her workers, giving them and their families financial stability. This allows their children to have the freedom to explore different opportunities in other regions, such as Metro Manila.

“I am always thinking about them. My workers can financially support their families, which in turn allows them to let their children explore other opportunities in places such as Metro Manila,” she added.

Rochelle’s success is a testament to the impact of socially responsible and empowering business practices—one that benefits not only an individual but an entire community.

The ARISE Plus Philippines project enables Philippine exporters to take advantage of European Union (EU) market access and the trade privileges granted under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP+). It supports the overall EU-Philippines trade relationship and trade-related policies.

ARISE Plus Philippines is a project of the Government of the Philippines, with the Department of Trade and Industry as the lead partner with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Bureau of Customs, the Department of Science and Technology, and the private sector. It is funded by the EU, with the International Trade Centre (ITC) as the technical agency for the project. ♦

Date of release: 01 August 2023