MANILA -- A eureka moment in an empty apartment in Los Angeles gave birth to the Philippines' newest e-commerce platform for furniture and home decor.
Close friends Jules Veloso, Andrew Bercasio, and Enah Baba recently launched ITOOH Homestyle, which features a curated selection of products by heritage brands and mom-and-pop businesses in the country.
Veloso, who was finishing her data science studies in LA at the height of the pandemic, turned to the internet to shop for furniture for her bare apartment as physical stores were closed.
"I was really pleasantly surprised by my online home shopping. I would spend a lot of time on Etsy, on Amazon, scouring through the platforms looking for items to fill in my empty apartment," Veloso said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
"We feel like there's a huge opportunity to fill in the gaps here in the Philippines," she added, recalling Bercasio's and Baba's struggles in relation to online furniture shopping in the country.
ITOOH Homestyle (pronounced as ee-two) is named after the Filipino expression "ito oh" (this is it), which is usually said when people finally find something they're looking for.
"We often talk about our eureka moment and this ultimately inspired the name. We thought of a very classic, all-Filipino expression of that moment when you finally find that thing that you're looking for. You really say to yourself, 'Ito oh!' So that really inspired the brand, that moment," Bercasio said.
"Homestyle, by its very definition, means it's something that's very simple, something that's practical, and not pretentious," Bercasio continued. "We see home lifestyle as sort of like that. We are strong believers that what you put in your house and how you fix your space should be a reflection of your lifestyle."
At ITOOH Homestyle, customers can shop by room, brand, item, and even according to their preferred style, with options including classic, industrial, minimalist, modern, eclectic, Scandinavian, and Bohemian.
According to Baba, they now have 35 brands on the platform, with a total of 500 products that customers can choose to have delivered to their own homes.
There are offerings for different price points, ranging from a P400 table accent to a bed worth P262,000.
Aside from products, ITOOH Homestyle also offers interior design services from partner design firm Grupo Santamaria, with prices starting at P8,000 for a 30-square-meter space.
"Our goal is to democratize interior design and make it more accessible to Filipinos," Baba said. "Most of the time, it's very intimidating to a lot of us."
"There are also local players that have started aggregating furniture or things that you need for your home... but what sets us apart is we want to really focus on quality vetted furniture items or brands," she added. "We want the shopping experience to really be enjoyable."