Add beautiful plates to the long list of things people suddenly realize they want to have and to hold this pandemic.
Not just for hosting parties anymore (because there are no more parties, at least not until next year), we’ve hunkered down and treated ourselves to beauties we used to reserve for “special occasions.” I am no psychologist, but as a self-confessed, newly minted tableware hoarder, the obsession with colorful, striking, and oh-so-fragile plates points to the lure of having something special as we go through the humdrum of every day.
If we are going to eat at home all the time, it better be off something really pretty. Hence, the pandemic saw us upgrading not just our kitchen tools but also our tableware. Unable (or unwilling) to visit our beloved restaurants, people have decided to treat themselves to items that bring elusive joy in this pandemic.
Enter museum-worthy, exhibit-level plates—and hello to a new breed of platitas.
RAINNE LORENZO, HOME LOVE POINT
Long before Covid hit, in the last three years, work-at-home mom Rainne Lorenzo has been selling curios and ceramics in her online shop Home Love Point.
“I took the business seriously into my first year of operations but it was only during this pandemic that I finally went the next level and opened a physical shop—something I don’t think I’d be able to do if it weren’t for the current situation,” she says.
In the early months of the pandemic, when she saw a store that felt like “the one,” Rainne braved it and opened a quaint little shop to house her treasures. An early player in the world of aesthetic tableware, she sells Japanese ceramics, with most items blue-and-white classics.
“My family always used beautiful ceramics for dinnerware,” she says of her love affair with plates. “My husband was able to acquire quite a few from the now closed Cardinal Ceramics, known for their blue-and-white pieces.”
Now Rainne is one of the more popular, reliable sellers of beautiful homeware. “When I started the business I thought of offering about 14 pieces at a time, now every time I come out with a collection, I usually release about 80 to 100 pieces,” she says. “I enjoy finding unique pieces from my supplier and seeing how my clients would react to the pieces (sometimes they would put ‘mine’ simultaneously). I feel like I found my circle who appreciates my taste and sense of home aesthetics.”
Most unforgettable piece: I had quite a few when it comes to ceramics (sometimes I’d get rare pieces like a Narumi teacup that features a famous Japanese artist) but surprisingly the most unforgettable piece I got was a framed poster of The Nightmare Before Christmas that was signed by Tim Burton himself. It was Halloween that time and I was coming out with a new collection in time for the occasion.
Dream piece: I have a lot of dream pieces! But I think right now I’d like to stick to offering more blue-and-white pieces from Japan that my shop is known for. I have what I call “HLP wishlist.” Basically, my clients tell me what they want and I try my best to come up with it. I just stress that there are no promises as to when I’ll get them again (I don’t ask for downpayment) and sometimes it takes me months to come up with it.
Price points: ₱200 to ₱4,000
What’s on her plate: I want to pick out items straight from the factories and not just via my broker. I want to offer dinnerware that corresponds to seasons, I want to cater to International clientele and maybe work with local artists. For now, I’m happy that I got to cross this out on my bucket list and open an actual shop where clients can visit.
Where you can get her items: Home Love Point is available online on IG at instagram.com/homelovepoint. FRDC Building, 106 E Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Brgy. Ugong, Pasig (right across Valle Verde).
MILLET LIBERATO SIMEON, MMaisonManila
“When I got married in 2016, I started to curate tablescapes at home. My husband is a naval aviator in the Philippine Navy while I have a boutique PR agency, M360 PR+Activations Agency, and both of us have busy schedules,” says Millet. “This means we only dinnertime and weekends to bond, so I make it a point to cook and try to make our table a little ‘extra.’”
When the pandemic started, Millet noticed that a lot of food and homeware were making it into her IG and FB, and started ordering to support small businesses. Her “obsession” with plates got a little out of hand, so she decided to sell plates so she could finance her hobby. “To be able to have all pieces I want, I started my own plate business,” she laughs. “I spent a lot of time researching and found a co-platita who imports, and started my own online plate shop just this Sept. 1. Each plate is named after a city in a country that’s best suited for its design to it eased up my crave for travelling! We were supposed to have a US and Europe tour this year. And I know a lot of my customers can relate too. My very first customer, a fellow #platita, Bam (@bampontejos), is one of my best friends. She owns a travel agency and so, naturally, she loves to travel and tablescape. Her close friend Jaz (@sweestnestevents) styles her parties and her latest one was a pink-themed Halloween dinner for her cute little girls, all my inaanaks!
MMaison sells bone china and ceramic tableware—plates and goblets. A little fancy, but Millet wants customers to know that picking out these sophisticated things shouldn’t be intimidating.
She also supports local businesses, using native placemats from Bicol made of bangkuan grass from Albay to frame her plates.
Dream pieces: I fancy designing my own collection named after the different destinations of our country. Manila, Cebu, and Palawan are my top name choices.
Business tip: I selected items based on my taste before, and I didn’t like the butterflies at first, but it turned out to be one of the bestsellers, including the Christmas collection with red and green designs. I have to also make sure that there are plates and goblets that fit for different occasions: Filipino dinner that’s very tropical, an African-themed dinner with Moroccan plates and goblets, adding elements like placemats and linens. It’s so exciting! Even the simple taking of photos of the plates makes me so happy.
Where to get her items: IG: @MMaisonManila
KEIJI EJERCITO, PLATTORNEY
Plates became the saving grace for lawyer Keiji Ejercito after losing her job due to the pandemic. A lawyer by profession—hence the name Plattorney (Plato, Tasa, atbp ni Attorney)—Keiji resigned from her job last June to transfer to a different institution. Despite the loss of a stable job, selling plates has sustained the lawyer in the past six months. While she’s always had an eye for the finer tableware in life—“especially teapots”—Covid fast-tracked her decision to take her hobby to another level.
“Plattorney was an overnight decision,” she says. “I thought of the name the night before I launched it, bought my first batch of ‘exhibits,’ took photos, launched, and posted them on the next day. During the ‘first appearance’ or the ‘live launch,’ all the exhibits were instantly sold out—this made me realize that this business had potential. The following day, I registered it immediately with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).”
Her aesthetic is a fusion of contemporary and traditional, a mix of high and low, international and local. She has dinner sets, teacups, goblets, chalices, placemats, and even baklad food covers. “Whatever the price point or type of tableware, everything I sell is meticulously curated by me,” she says. “This way, if it doesn’t get sold, I would still love to own the item.”
One piece you fell in love with: My “Mens Rea” set. It is a ceramic stoneware four-piece set with pink, purple, and blue watercolor-like strokes with gold rim. I am really happy that no one bought it yet because I really want to have them for myself.
Dream piece: The Hermes Passifolia porcelain collection.
Price points: ₱100 to ₱3,000 for a four-piece dinnerware set
What’s on her plate: I am hoping that I could sustain and expand this business in the long run. Moreover, I would love to see my own designs on the plates and teacups that I sell. When I am able to do that, that’s the only time I could say I succeeded in this business.
Where to get her items: IG/FB @plattorney
JOYCE ZENDI TEE MACARAIG, PLATITA MNL
One week before the lockdown, architect chef Joyce Macaraig visited a Japanese store and purchased on a whim her first stoneware ramen bowl, ceramic salad plates, and rectangular wood tray. Flash forward eight months later, and she has more than 5,000 followers on IG and a thriving tableware business.
Platita MNL sells stylish tableware from ceramic to melamine, coffee mugs, gold plated tea sets, cutlery, goblets, champagne flutes, dried flowers and twigs, ceramic vases—basically the whole caboodle, a completely different world now for the architect who has now been able to successfully supplement her income from her work in an architectural firm. From therapeutic buying, she now has faithful clients who have compelled her to keep restocking.
“The plan was to select every eye-catching piece that I see in a warehouse and just upload it, but eventually, regular buyers could not seem to get over some sold out items that I receive multiple requests to restock a particular color or design for them,” she says.
Favorite piece: Probably the Ombré Tropicali Dinner Plate from our first collection. Its gradience or design depicts the shades of nature. Until now, after multiple collections, some platitas are still asking for that plate.
Dream piece: The Versace Ikarus Medusa baroque-print dinner plate. I would literally frame and hang it in my dining room once I have it.
What’s on her plate: I’m planning to expand my range of products to handmade and reversible placemats, summer picnic mats, table runners, etc. I’m also considering to add curated home decor in my upcoming collections. With hope, I get to launch my designed plates and mugs in partnership with our local suppliers.
Where to get her items: IG @platita.mnl, FB Page: @platita.mnl