We began our mission in 2007 in Payatas, one of the Philippines’ largest urban poor communities, home to half a million people. An informal cottage industry of rug-weavers grew from the many women who bought fabric scraps from unscrupulous middlemen. They would then turn these into handcrafted rugs and rags that they would sell, all while fulfilling their familial duties. Over time, middlemen controlled both the supply of fabric and the women’s formal access to the market. This resulted in an unfair value chain for the women who earned only .30 cents USD per day. We started Rags2Riches to provide these artisans with access to the market and the formal economy.
Therese Fernandez-Ruiz - Therese is the CEO and Founding Partner of Rags2Riches, Inc., responsible for overall strategy and partner relations. She has built up a great deal of goodwill and support for the R2R brand, particularly with R2R's current and prospective designers. She has also been the driving force behind R2R's most rewarding partnerships with local and international retailers & media. She holds a degree in Management, honourable mention, from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Therese is also proficient in digital marketing and e-commerce.
Anabelle Coro - Anabelle is the Finance Manager of R2R. She is a Certified Public Accountant and has 25 years of experience across national and multinational companies in the Philippines, in Financial planning and analysis, internal and external audit, accounting systems and processes, funds and cash planning, capital expenditure proposal review, and project leadership.
Stephanie Ann Cuevas - Stephanie is currently the Operations Manager of Rags2Riches. She started out in the company as the Community Enterprise Activation Officer, and rose from an officer to a manager in less than 2 years because of her passion for service, dedication, and excellence. Under Stephanie's leadership, Rags2Riches grew training communities from 300 to 900 in a span of 2 years. She was able to establish the first of its kind in the Philippines: the Artisan Quality of Life Program that aims to provide community artisans with access to banking, savings, insurance, and investments. She was able to do this through a partnership with the biggest and most successful Micro finance institutions in the Philippines, CARD Bank. Currently, 95% of the Rags2Riches Artisans have their own savings passbooks and are now on their way to having micro insurance and micro investments.
Angela Poblador-Antonio - Angela is the Sales and Marketing Manager for International and Retail. She joined R2R last year (2014) and has 10 years of experience in luxury (Louis Vuitton), brand management, and sales. She holds an MBA for International Luxury Brand Management, ESSEC Business School Paris. Angela was able to professionalise R2R's retail operations, train store ambassadors, and reach new sales highs in the history of R2R for 2015.
Joe Mark San Pascual Pardiñas "Matt" - Matt is the Sales and Marketing Manager of Rags2Riches. He is one of the first 4 people in Rags2Riches, trying to make a difference in the lives of 300 people back in 2009 when he joined the company. For the past 5 years, he was able to build meaningful and sustainable relationships with the most strategic corporate partners of Rags2Riches to date. Through his leadership, Rags2Riches reached new markets, established new partnerships, and in effect, created more positive impact in the country. He was recently named one of nine Young Market Masters Awardees for 2014, a prestigious award given to the most talented, creative, and passionate marketing practitioners in the Philippines.
Christian Cera - Christian Cera is an accessories designer specializing in handbag and fashion jewelry. In his 23-year experience in design, product development, marketing and production, he has worked with various companies selling to both export and local markets. He is currently the Product Development Specialist and in-house designer of Rags2Riches and an instructor in School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA) teaching Bag Production. As the Product Development Specialist of Rags2Riches, Christian is in charge of coming up with new concepts and designs, and creating prototypes for each collection. He is one of the very few in the Philippines who has both the design and technical skills to create fashion accessories such as handbags. Through Chris’ leadership, Rags2Riches was able to produce designs and products that successfully reached the standards of retailers such as Anthropologie both in the UK and in the US.
Cynthia Cabrera - Cynthia was one of the first women artisans to join R2R when it began, and has been one of its most outspoken advocates - both to communities in Payatas, and more recently to communities that R2R is expanding to. She is currently the Community Expansion Supervisor of Rags2Riches, committed to expanding R2R’s reach in different community, and implementing training modules and quality of life programs. Cynthia started out as an artisan and is now the R2R ambassador who brings more artisans into Rags2Riches. In her words, this is her way of “paying it forward”. Cynthia is responsible for the implementation of the most innovative and rewarding programs for our communities. Through her leadership and excellence, Rags2Riches was able to successfully implement the Quality of Life Program (together with Stephanie Cuevas), Financial Literacy Modules, Financial Enrichment Modules, as well as the regular monitoring of the communities’ production and improvement of their standard of living.
Susamarie “Nhing" Estabillo - Nhing Estabillo, or “Ate Nhing”, as she is fondly known, spent many years as a scavenger in Payatas, one of the Philippines’ largest dumpsites, before joining Rags2Riches. Not too long ago, Ate Nhing used to take on any odd job just to make ends meet – from collecting and reselling discarded plastic and metal, to selling flowers on the street, or washing people’s clothes. Still, sometimes, she would have to buy half-eaten leftovers from fast food restaurants, called pagpag, just to feed her family. Rags2Riches gave Ate Nhing the opportunity to turn her life around: through the training and empowerment she received from R2R, she learned to become a skilled weaver, as well as a leader in both her family and community. Today, Ate Nhing is one of the most empowered artisan leaders in Rags2Riches. She manages the Rags2Riches workshop as the Workshop Supervisor, working directly with 30 full-time artisans. She creates her own powerpoint presentations, excel files, and operates R2R’s ERP system, NetSuite.