By Patrick King Pascual, VERA Files
Oftentimes, the best way to change the look of your house is by replacing your décor and furniture. It is less expensive and more fun to do.
Cebu has been known to be the mecca of world-class furniture that is being successfully exported to many countries. It is where renowned furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue started his business and continues to produce his pieces.
But there is another furniture maker who is starting to make a buzz in the local and international markets. He differs from other players because his goal is to make every house a home.
Eric Po, former real estate sales executive from Cebu, has thoroughly familiarized himself with the need of every homeowner to improve the look of their home. He observed that many people were willing to spend huge amounts of money just to buy imported furniture, neglecting the wide array of available choices in the Philippines.
He wanted to change this practice. So, he used his own money from the sales commissions he had saved from his real estate stint to establish the furniture store Home Mavericks in 2006, together with fellow young Cebuano entrepreneurs Eric Mendoza, Vincent Sandoval and Johann Escañan.
Po, who has no background in the furniture business, recalled how hard it was in the beginning. He started the business with the help of his staff and rigorous research on the furniture industry.
"You don't need to have a big capital to start a (furniture) business," Po said. "All you need to know is to learn how to invest properly."
The first office Po's group opened was a 40-square meter shop just like the size of a regular bedroom that could accommodate only two beds. After struggling in the first few months to keep the company running---to the point that his other partners had wanted to give up, they eventually succeeded in making Home Mavericks one of the most sought-after furniture stores in the Metro. Home Mavericks is located on Arnaiz Avenue in Makati City.
The store sells locally-produced furniture with world-class quality to mainstream Philippine market as well as in the global market. Its Cebu pieces are made through the traditional method of making furniture--- that is, handcrafted and hand-woven, making the designs more modern.
But what Po simply wanted to achieve was to introduce Cebu craftsmanship to a wider Philippine market, thus, a showroom was opened in Manila instead of Cebu.
"I saw a great opportunity here in Manila, even though the competition with other furniture stores is really tight," he said. "Manila is a good way to showcase Cebu-made (world-class) products."
Their collection is most notable for the intricate traditional Cebu design pieces, which uses bamboo as its primary material and creates solihiya (Spanish for weave) as its primary design. The presentation offers a look that accommodates Mediterranean and Miami accents, which uses warm and comfortable materials that are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
"In Home Mavericks, we make our furniture keeping our market in mind. We design things based on what people really need," he stressed.
To add to their numerous world-class pieces, Po released the Luna chair that is made of a mixture of traditional solihiya design and topped with a custom-shaped cushion. It is shaped like a crescent moon for a more comfortable, more relaxed slouch sitting.
Po explained: "I want my first design to be a story of the journey that I did in this business. It's the Filipinos that made me successful, so I dedicate the solihiya weave to them. (In) the next few designs that I will be making, expect something that describes the lifestyle of each Filipino. It will describe what they feel, what they do and what they work for."
He gets his inspiration from every Filipino's life and experiences, focusing not only on what might sell in the market, but on what every home needs--- that is, a furniture piece that describes one's personality.
Asked how they differ from other Cebu furniture stores, Po said: "We keep our promise to keep our furniture's (world-class) quality as possible and also the designs were based from Filipino stories. If the international market will be interested in our designs, it would a pleasure for us Filipinos, to go out and share our designs (with them)."
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")