We're fortunate to have a lot of amazing entrepreneurs here in the PNW. They're people who make it a point to help others and lift them up - all while running a business. We had profiled many of these cool and creative folks - like Afshan Abbas from Fuchsia - the gorgeous handmade flats giving artisans a foothold on their futures to Shaydon Graybeal, owner of the West Seattle shop Alair, who carefully curates her store to feature local artists who are committed to giving back the community.
Clare Hynes currently calls the Eastside home. But it was the time she spent living in The Philippines that sparked a way for her to make and design gorgeous accessories - and help local artisans in The Philippines. Refined chatted with Hynes about this special collaboration.
Seattle Refined: Clare Hynes, you are the designer behind the artisan accessory brand Soil & Sun can you describe it for us?
Clare Hynes: Handcrafted accessories handmade by me and artisans in The Philippines. [It is] joyful, creative, unique, and ethical.
So we’re obviously in rainy Seattle, how did you get this idea for this?
We moved to America this time last year. Previously I lived in The Philippines, I lived in Manila for three years. The fact that it’s sunny all the time, the tropical islands, the colors and the beauty of the Philippines I was just inspired so much for the vibrancy there.
Can you share a few of your favorite pieces right now?
Yeah sure I love a statement earring - the Jaynie earrings are made from wooden beads. Another favorite, the Sarah Jessica earrings come in different colors. [And] the Lola earrings, they’re a popular style as well. Going into fall and winter I’ve got Georgina earrings, in orange as well.
And then we have handbags. The Darcy is made from T’nalak fabric, a traditional weave from The Philippines and then these large wooden beads from Sebu. This other new handbag is Isabella and it’s got the Solihiya weave and again wooden beads One other favorite is the Sophia, a little clutch bag. At the moment, they’re my favorites.
All this pieces are so beautiful, but the story behind them is so beautiful too. You design things but you have a really talented group of artisans in the Philippines. Tell me about your relationship with them - (and I know it’s a number of different groups).
It started when I connected with a small group of women just outside of Tacloban. To start with, I taught them my jewelry-making skills. I progressed into handbag design because I wanted to create more income for them. This design of bag (and it’s same as The Sophia bag) with this strap. I actually designed this style of bag to be able to use - use the work they do. Their handcrafted work.
A lot of these women you’re working with are mothers, maybe living in remote areas?
Especially for the women in Tacloban, where they live, it’s very hard for them to get jobs. So me able to give them - at the moment it’s a supplemental income - and they’ve said to me themselves it’s given then a sense of achievement, it’s given them independence and it’s given them more say in the household decisions.
There’s also separately some of the artisans creating this gorgeous fabric. How has this impacted their lives?
I was lucky enough to meet a co-op ‘Kloyall.' They’re based in southern Philippines and Kloyall also advocates for the T’boli tribe so the women that hand weave this T’nalak and Abel fabric which is this weave as well. I think it’s important to keep this tradition alive. It provides an income for them, a sustainable income, and also to get their beautiful craftsmanship out to the world.
So why is this such an important part of your business model? You can certainly be producing things that are closer and easier for you in some way.
Yeah I think to be honest it was the fact of living in Manila, living in The Philippines. To see firsthand like the disparity between the rich and poor, you can’t help but want to do something however big or small - just do your bit to help. So my dream is to grow my brand is I can provide even more income to them.