MANILA - Several Filipino seamstresses and tailors will personalize textile products at IKEA's Philippine branch once it opens under the Swedish furniture-maker's partnership with local firm Rags2Riches, IKEA said Tuesday.
IKEA tapped Rags2Riches as its official sewing partner as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives, IKEA Southeast Asia market development manager Georg Platzer told reporters.
Rags2Riches enables communities by bringing employment opportunities using upcycled textiles. They initially made rags from recycled materials.
"There are so many options. You buy, the fabric, basically, you come with measurements and then the sewing team will start stitching and do whatever you need. So its basically turning what we have into custom-made, basically considering the needed size and also the style," Platzer, who will also manage the Philippine store, said.
Under the partnership, R2R artisans from Payatas, Caloocan, Tondo and other parts of Metro Manila will get a chance to work at the IKEA store at the Mall of Asia Complex when it opens later this year, founding partner Reese Fernandez-Ruiz said.
R2R will have its own section at the store where at least 3 to 5 artisans at a time will personalize IKEA textile products including curtains, pillowcases, and bedsheets to fit their needs, Ruiz said.
Personalized modifications can also be done offsite, she said.
"R2R will have a space in IKEA, we’re very excited to be there and IKEA customers who will be purchasing textiles from IKEA can go to our sewing services area and can have different home accessories custom-made there," Ruiz said.
"It’s like we have a home at IKEA Philippines," she added.
Some 20 members of the R2R community have undergone sewing and weaving technique training in preparation for the opening of IKEA Philippines, Ruiz said.
"Teary-eyed" community partners are also excited to work at IKEA, said R2R community enterprise manager Cynthia Cabrera.
"Nung nalaman nila ang global yung IKEA. Makikita mo sa mga ng mga artisans yung teary-eyed, masaya. Lalo na nung yung IKEA staff nagpunta sa community. Parang yung saya hindi mapaliwanag, yung iba lumuluha sa saya. Hindi namin inakala na aabot kami sa ganito. Gusto ko rin mag duty sa IKEA," Cabrera said.
(When they learned that IKEA was global, they became teary-eyed with joy. Especially when the IKEA staff visited the community. It was like unexplainable joy, some of them even cried. We never thought we would get this far.)
Ruiz said they anticipated a surge in demand due to Filipino's love for personalized and embroidered items. Prices will be “very, very affordable" in line with IKEA's brand, she said.
IIKEA PH's physical store and e-commerce website are set to open later this year. IKEA earlier said it would hire close to 500 workers for the branch.
IKEA is building its largest store in the world at the Mall of Asia complex Pasay City at approximately 65,000 square meters. Two floors of the 5-story IKEA Philippines will be for retail with at least 9,000 products, it earlier said.