“Borne of the wife’s love for beautiful things and the husband’s love for….happy hour.” This was the caption for the initial Instagram post of Happy Light Manila, the lamp-making biz Rup and Pepper Henson kickstarted at the height of the pandemic. While the description may hint at how the idea for their passion project was born, Pepper, the wife, paints a clearer picture for ANCX: “My husband likes to work with his tools and I like fixing up the house.”
The Hensons repurpose old liquor bottles for their cool, stylish lighting fixtures. “When we tried making one lamp and realized that there’s not much of things like this out in the market, we decided to give it a try,” says Pepper. Their first IG post was on October of 2020, and over the following months Instagram would just fall in love with the couple’s creations (they currently have over 11,000 followers on the platform)—how they would pair the green bottle of Tanqueray with a dainty floral material for a shade, the robust clear bottle of a Roku gin with a colorful striped print, or the azure-tinted bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label with a faint white and grey arrow print.
You could say it helped that everyone was having a pretty steady affair with their cocktails at that time, and bottles of alcohol proved to be comforting sights, something to ease the anxieties and stresses brought on by Covid-19. But don’t think of the Hensons, parents to two boys, as heavy drinkers—the bottles they repurpose are not from their own stash. Sure they started with what they had at home—but it wasn’t much, although they had a few interesting ones to try and test.
“Once we decided we wanted to sell lamps, we relied on donations from friends and family who were happy to give an added purpose to their happy hour sessions,” adds Pepper. “More than a year into this, we’re very lucky and grateful we’ve had a lot of people approaching us to donate their bottles.”
There are also more people approaching them to buy their lamps. “We can’t be more thankful with the reception,” says Mrs. Henson. “We didn’t realize we would last this long and that the reception would be this good.” Before the couple added lamp-making to their resumes, they were only managing a family business of food distributorship in the CaMaNaVa area.
There’s a cool, unassuming quality to the lamps Rup and Pepper put together, and an almost DIY quality to them, despite the chic, polished results. There’s also an ease and lightness—which can also be attributed to their approach to this new undertaking. “At the beginning, and even up to now, we just like to enjoy the ride,” says Pepper. “My husband and I always say, if this becomes too stressful or just too much for the both of us to handle, we can take it easy and reasses. But of course we like to think of taking things to the next level, like setting up a website or opening an actual store. In God’s perfect time.”
What’s the best thing about doing what they do? “When we see people opening up their homes to our creations and when we see how people appreciate the thought and hard work we put into the pieces,” says Pepper. “Another good thing about this is that this is really a collaboration between me and my husband and we love sharing ideas and working together to create.”
[Photos from Happy Light Manila's Instagram account]