M&S Davao Style File: Erika Mata, weaving fashion & mission in a bag

ERIKA Mata is one of the remarkable women in Davao City today. She is meek and humble, charming and pleasant, but what lies beneath the graceful, well-dressed exterior is an even more admirable characteristic. Erika is a champion to a women's livelihood program and to young scholars.

Erika pairs her black Humabi bag with Marks & Spencer’s Per Una lace top in silver & French Navy colored jersey pants in, with M&S Collection necklace.

Married to Dr. Richard Mata and a mother to three kids, 14-year-old Patricia, nine-year-old Amanda, the youngest, Rich, who is 5, Erika skillfully juggles family and personal time. "I guess it's a matter of prioritizing and delegating things. I'm a fulltime housewife and my priority is my family. I give them the quality care a mother and wife should give. It's when the kids are at school and my husband is at the clinic that I can focus on my other tasks," said Erika.

Outside her family duties, Erika gives inspirational talks on parenting, marriage, even fashion, and her advocacy-Humabi, a social enterprise that focuses on maximizing improvements in human and environmental well-being.

"Humabi is a Filipino term for weave. Believe it or not, each Humabi bag is made out of plastic straw ropes commonly called 'tie box'," shared Erika, "The bags' designs are conceptualized by a mother-daughters tandem (referring to herself and her two daughters) and these designs are then executed by the expert weavers, women at the correctional institution of the city, who are also mostly mothers," she added.

Humabi in white makes the perfect pair to Erika’s M&S Collection ensemble—knitted top in Flame, white jeggings & black & white scarf.

This idea started when Erika and her husband started supporting a few deserving but less fortunate students at the Philippine Science High School. The letters of appreciation they received from the scholars were heartwarming and hoped they had more funds to help more students.

"Through a series of fortunate events, plus a drive inspired by a young lady who successfully helped the native product producers of Payatas, the Humabi brand was born. The concept is to produce world-class bags. Good quality and contemporary designs are essential," declared Erika.

The production of Humabi bags doesn't only help the weavers in their livelihood program, but puts young children to school as well. "Every buyer gets to help both the student scholars and the mothers in the correctional facility with their purchase. A portion of the sale will go to these two groups," she said.

Complementing Erika’s Marks & Spencer garb—Per Una ¾ jersey top in dusted pink, M&S Collection black jeggings & Autograph necklace— is her black Humabi bag.

Humabi is a fashion accessory that aims to reach Classes A, B and C. However, the "tie box" material for bags may not be popular to the upper class and fashionistas. But with modish and appealing designs, good packaging and the right exposure, Erika believes that it will reach the target market and will receive its due appreciation.

"I designed the bags to have an elegant look similar to those expensive signature bags," Erika said of the bag that comes in both basic hues and bright colors, the wooden handles wrapped in printed scarflet.

With the endorsement by the brand ambassadors- professionals, well-heeled women and mothers, the Humabi bag was given the publicity mileage it initially needed, a move that boosted the bag's stature to a "must have fashion accessory".

That cream Humabi Bag. Erika in Per Una ¾ jersey top in dusted pink, M&S Collection black jeggings & Autograph necklace.

Another market Erika wants to tap are the women with kind hearts, women who can go beyond the look and utility of a well-designed handbag and understand and appreciate the benefits of their purchase, which is to help both the women and the young scholars.

Since the launching of the Humabi bag, Erika shared that sales have been good. Retail shops saw the potential of the product and put the bags on their shelves.

Erika bares another good news, "We are getting good traffic in our website (www.humabi-bags.com) as well as our social media sites, Facebook and Instagram (humabibags). We didn't expect to achieve all these in just a few months, but I do believe people get to appreciate both the product and the advocacy."


Photography: Paul Borromeo
Styling: Meg Sta. Ines & Otoy Mercado
Outfits: Marks & Spencer
Shot on location at Marks & Spencer & SM Lanang Premier


For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/ and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 1, 2015.

Read more about this:

ERIKA SORIANO-MATA A mission with a vision in Meg Sta. Ines-Hernandez's Metro Mom on EDGE Davao.

Weaving fashion & mission in a bag in Marilyn Roque's Scene City on Mindanao Times.