“When asked why she decided to start a small beadwork company in 2010, Cynthia Chuidian Medina simply answered: “We want to uplift the lives of farmers at the grassroots level.”

The year before, Cynthia and her husband Rene had made the decision to move away from the hustle and bustle of city life. After working for decades in the corporate world as a financial manager in a large industrial conglomerate, she felt that it was time to settle down in a more laid-back environment.

Little did she know that moving to the province would inspire her to create a business that would eventually help boost the lives of locals.

Crafting a New Beginning

“My family is all settled, and we could retire peacefully as we can provide for our needs,” she added. Her passion for arts and crafts was still strong, though, so she turned back to her old hobby after relocating to Victoria, Tarlac — a place close to her heart.

Realizing that her passion could help others earn a living, she started gathering the farmers and housewives within Victoria and nearby areas to teach them beadworks. Together with her sisters, she established JCS Beatus Trading Inc., a beads and beadwork supply enterprise.

JCS Beatus became a pioneer in beadworking, applying its beads not only in women’s accessories but also in developing products for lighting, lanterns, and homewares. Under Cynthia’s leadership, the company provided free beadworks livelihood training to women farmers, Persons with Disabilities (PWD), and Persons Deprived of

Liberty (PDL). These trainings not only helped develop their skills but also provided them with job orders.

Cynthia also headed TARLAC Henyo Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative, (THEM Coop) for five years as Chairman and is currently leading its operations as General Manager. THEM Coop is the leader in Marketing Activities for small entrepreneurs in the province of Tarlac and has represented the province in several local, national, and international trade fairs and exhibits.

Going Local

2019 was a pivotal year for Cynthia and her company. After much deliberation, they decided to shift their focus from beadwork to macrame weaving, using locally sourced materials.

This decision was driven by two main factors: an increasing awareness of the importance of supporting local businesses and a desire to use more sustainable, environmentally friendly materials.

The transition was not easy, but it was ultimately successful, thanks to the hard work of Cynthia and her team. They conducted new training to update the skills of their previous beaders, starting with the PWD group of Victoria and the PDL group of BJMP Tarlac City.

The group was then able to create beautiful, unique pieces that had a positive impact on their community. With this shift, Cynthia changed her business name from JCS Beatus Trading, Inc to JCS Arts and Handy Crafts, a social enterprise.

Flourishing with the Help of DTI

Under Cynthia’s helm, the THEM Cooperative joined the Likha ng Central Luzon Trade Fair in Metro Manila in 2019. They exhibited and sold the weaved macrame products crafted by the locals of Tarlac, which were instant hits.

Cynthia said that this was the most successful fair they’ve ever had, with sales totaling more than PhP100,000 over the five-day event. They received inquiries from buyers all over Metro Manila, as well as from Portugal and other export markets.

The group became a regular participant in provincial trade fairs and other regional events like the National Arts and Crafts Fair (NACF).

The Pandemic Disruption

The business picked up quickly, and orders were coming in left and right. However, just as things were looking up, the pandemic of 2020 hit, and disruptions began.

The lockdown limited the movement of people and goods, making it difficult to source materials and ship products. But through it all, she did not give up. Cynthia ploughed on despite the inconveniences that COVID-19 brought forth.

“The main mission of my business is to revive the livelihood projects of the women in the municipality and give them a platform to sell and market their creativity.”

She thought of the situation of her weavers, who rely on her for income. “You will realize it’s not just for you; it’s for others too.”

Cynthia made sure that her 14 partner weavers in Tarlac had job orders so that each of them would earn at least PhP2,000 every month.

With the National Arts and Crafts Fair Artisanal Shop switching to online platforms, Cynthia and her team were still able to find customers for their products.

Looking Forward

JCS Arts and Handy Crafts is still going strong today, thanks to the resilience of Cynthia Chuidian Medina. With the pandemic over and done, she is now looking to the future and expanding her business even further while helping local weavers earn more than just a decent living.

With her dedication and crafty skills, we’re sure that she will succeed. A salute to you, Cynthia!