Going big in the green market

Johanna O. Bajenting

PRACTICING sustainability through fashion.

This was what the pieces of sustainable jewelry under the Floreia brand wanted to exude and be known for, as it caters to the growing environmentally conscious consumers around the globe.

Born to globally acclaimed “green innovators” and owners of the Nature’s Legacy export brand, Pedro and Cathy Delantar, 24-year-old gemologist and fine art jeweller Katrina Delantar has big plans for Floreia.

The unica hija among four siblings, Delantar is Floreia’s managing director. She studied and graduated cum laude from the Fashion Institute of New York. Like her parents, she has a strong passion for sustainable manufacturing.

Delantar decided to pour herself into building the Floreia brand from the ground up. For her, Floreia is a collection of sustainable accessories that hopes to become a strong statement in the fast fashion industry that’s currently being disrupted by efforts of sustainability to protect nature.

Floreia’s collection uses the Nucast® technology, which material is recycled paper composite. This patented invention can mimic most natural textures, but it’s 100 times more light-weight, durable and recyclable.

Floreia’s trendy fashion pieces are now present over 35 countries worldwide widely known for its innovative technology and sustainable practices.

What was your first job?

I was a product development officer in New York. I was more into really making things new. My job was at Natori in New York, a Filipino lingerie brand. The only reason why I wanted to delve into that market was just to understand how a Filipino brand was able to make it into the international scene and still embody the Filipino heritage and look without being judged on the Filipino weaving.

My job then was to assist the product manager like sampling swatches and ordering line sheets. I did that for half a year.

Who inspired you to get into business?

My parents. I grew up in a sustainable household and business where everything was 100 percent sustainable. I grew up embodying the “Think before you buy” mindset. But not only that, the people who helped us grow the family business also played a big role. Sustainability wasn’t the first thing in mind. It was at first to create a business that will help the community that had no skills and proper education, but it’s not that they had no education, they just didn’t have the access to it. Then we had an invention that was so easy that no matter what skill level you have, you can perform the job.

Every time we do hiring, it’s not a matter of how many years you have experience. It’s always been like, “Are you determined to learn?” “Are you hardworking?” and “Are you committed?” It’s always going back to how can we help other people beyond ourselves.

What our people are making through fashion accessories aren’t about the product but them having pride in what they do without being judged from where they came from.

When did you realize this was what you were meant to do?

Honestly, until now I don’t know. I didn’t realize that my calling was in sustainability or it wasn’t the number one choice but I always love the art of making.

I was fascinated with the process itself which led me to manufacturing.

Why did you pick this type of business or industry?

I think most of our choices are not led by what we hope we want to achieve, but what we are given.

So for me, I was given the opportunity to work around an invention that was already there. To be given such a beautiful invention and to translate it into an industry was something I found to be a new purpose. It wasn’t the number one thing but it’s one of the choices I would never regret taking on.

Where did you get the training you needed to succeed?

I was surrounded by parents who trained us from ground zero. We grew up in the office and since five years old I was managing our household money. I would give my allowance to my older brothers and I would liquidate our grocery list because our parents were always busy traveling at that time.

It’s fascinating to be a child and to be surrounded by adults who know what they’re doing and be able to cater to a big market. I think that takes so much skill, talent and determination to provide a product that can be good for the environment and the consumers.

How many times did you fail before you succeeded?

You know failure, I think, is very subjective. We failed because we weren’t 100 percent focused on the mission—in the design aspect. We were at that time focused on the material side.

We thought people will love it because of the material but it’s the other way around. I think that when we start to take design seriously and have our own take on the fast fashion world, that’s when we will be able to penetrate the market well.