Nothing is going to stop Rags2Riches (R2R) from fulfilling its partnership with IKEA Philippines as its sewing service partner. Despite the ongoing crisis, they are able to train an estimate of 20 artisans.
President and founding partner of R2R Reese Fernandez-Ruiz reminisces in her recent Instagram post which dates back to October 2020, “We took this photo about a year ago before the lockdown when shaking hands was still a thing. But even if it may take a while before we shake hands again, we are getting the ball rolling on this partnership with IKEA Philippines! Rags2Riches is the official sewing services provider for the biggest IKEA in the world! Stay tuned for our opening!”
She also shared a some trivia: “(1) We actually started exploring this 4-5 years ago, (2) After years of due diligence and getting to know each other, last 2019 we got the confirmation that we are going to be working together! (3) We will have a home in IKEA when it opens and we can make and customize a range of home accessories for you!”
Fast forward to 2020, no one expected this pandemic to happen, but Reese’s team was able to pull through. “For now, we are able to provide sewing training for curtains, pillow covers, and clothes through video calls, recorded videos, and on-the-job practice. We still have many modules lined up that we are hoping to roll out in the same way and hopefully, when the vaccine rolls out, we can hold these training sessions on-site and live,” says Reese.
The purpose of these R2R artisans is to offer their services inside the store: adjusting fabric-based materials like curtains, even personalising towels and bedsheets.
“Our partnership with Rags2Riches has always been more about than just sealing a deal, we are growing together towards a common goal of making everyday life better for the many,” shares market development manager for IKEA Philippines Georg Platzer.
From being a fashion brand, R2R now provides training for its artisans for home furniture items, thanks to IKEA Philippines. The Filipino brand is also grateful for this opportunity to uplift lives, especially during this crisis. “During a time when a lot of vulnerable people are becoming even more vulnerable, we are able to support our artisans with regular income and livelihoods,” adds Reese.
With social distancing and limited movements allowed since last year, R2R has worked around these challenges and was able to overcome them including internet connections and training them to sew with the best techniques. Work from home is encouraged, and those who needed to travel are given bicycles. “We have mapped out how this will look like and we’ll be able to do this while practicing strict social distancing and disinfection for materials and products that will be passed on from one place to another,” explains Reese.
The result of this work-around training? The artisans are very much excited to work with a global brand. Inspired and overwhelmed, a lot of sewers are now excited to sign up for training. It’s definitely an opportunity that’s not to be missed!