Womenbiz 2023: The future of the handmade in a digital world

In an increasingly digital world dominated by automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the concept of handmade craftsmanship may seem like a relic of the past. However, instead of making the handmade obsolete, the digital age has driven a new era of the handmade, offering unique opportunities for artisans and creators.

I witnessed this when I was invited to “walk” last Sept. 1 at the Women@Work Series 2023, with the theme “The Future of the Handmade in a Digital World,” organized by the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines (WomenBizPh),  the leading voice of women in commerce that inspires and empowers women in the Philippines.

Women@Work Series 2023, a one-day event held at the Podium Hall, Ortigas Business District, Pasig, comprised three key segments: conference, fabric exhibit, and gala dinner. These segments collectively provided a comprehensive experience for attendees, celebrating the resilience and innovation of women in business and the arts.

The morning conference discussed three engaging topics to provide local weavers with a guide to developing a sustainable approach to manufacturing, advertising, and endorsing their products. I also took some time to immerse myself in the “Sinulid at Sining Fabric Exhibit,” which showcased the rich tapestry of Filipino craftsmanship and creativity.

Rosemarie Bosch-Ong, Wilcon Depot SEVP-COO

The evening concluded with “Kasuotan at Kalinangan: Gala Dinner Celebrating Filipino Artisanal Weaves and Wear,” where I and other prominent women leaders had the privilege to walk the runway, wearing exquisite Filipino dresses. The gala event was a lively celebration of Filipino tradition and workmanship, with stunning handcrafted weaves and wearable art on display. 

As I reflect on my journey attending the Women@Work Series 2023, this event was a significant milestone in championing the empowerment of creativity and showcasing the incredible talents of Filipino artisans. It was inspiring to witness the fusion of tradition and innovation in the world of handmade products. 

Wilcon Depot AVP for sales and operations Erine Borja, Catherine Guingab, marketing manager Kristine Benedicto, AVP for sales and operations Desire Cuerdo, SEVP-COO Rosemarie Bosch – Ong, AVP for marketing Maeyeth Cadungog, AVP for sales and operations Rubylyn Candeleria, Aly Bosch, Filhome Builders president and CEO James Bosch and Limson Marketing chairman James Lim

I’m genuinely happy to have been part of an exquisite combination of history and technology, showing the perseverance and creativity of Filipino women entrepreneurs as I walked onto the platform to show off the handcrafted Filipino-made dress I wore. I was proud to represent every woman who had embraced their role as an artisan and creator, finding innovative ways to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Aside from the main event, there were booths throughout the venue that featured various Filipino creations from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, such as clothing made of pineapple fiber and other materials. 

The event underscored that the future of the handmade in a digital world is all about finding the right balance. It’s about using technology to empower artisans, connect with customers, and scale their businesses, while preserving the authenticity and uniqueness of handmade products. It’s about creating a seamless fusion of tradition and innovation.

By truly combining the creativity of handmade products with the power of digital tools, we can preserve our legacy and provide new opportunities for our artisans while contributing to the growth of the Philippine economy. 

The values and practices that Wilcon Depot upholds spring to mind. We believe that in this increasingly digital world, “collaboration” may shape the future of the handmade, and this event offered a platform for teamwork, learning, and inspiration.

I look forward to continuing to support and uplift the artisan communities in our country and exploring more opportunities for collaboration and innovation.