Her business started as an arts and crafts hobby–mixing scratch papers in a blender and turning them into unique cards and photo albums.
Lolita “Luchi” Cabanlet, an entrepreneur from Cagayan de Oro, was making creative cards and albums using crushed papers from the blender, a skill praised by friends because of the unique qualities of her handmade cards. She was using materials and equipment that were available in her house to create these handmade cards.
“I made cards and albums for friends who were getting married or having a birthday. I was really happy because they found it unique and they really liked it so much,” Luchi said.
Her creative hobby continued even after she became a mother of four.
Friends and relatives encouraged her to turn her hobby into a business. In 1993, she put up the Cagayan De Oro Handmade Paper.
Through help from the Department of Science and Technology (DTI), Luchi was able to acquire the necessary machines to produce craft paper to make her handicraft products.
To upgrade her skills, Luchi enrolled in a design program, a training that allowed her to gain more insights to products that appeal to a wide range of buyers.
The first products produced by her company include stationeries, journals, photo albums, and cards. Now, the products expanded into packaging such as gift bags and boxes of different sizes. There are also lamps and home accessories and decors.
To reach more markets, particularly international markets, Luchi’s enterprise started joining trade fairs organized by DTI.
Nature plays a big role in Luchi’s work. Her products are made from natural, organic and sustainable materials like abaca and cogon.
Luchi’s venture continued to grow. Her customer base widened, which translated to higher product demand. But this means increased requirements for the supply of raw materials.
Luchi turned to DTI for help in sourcing raw materials. She was able to meet quality suppliers of rattan, bamboo sticks, abaca, and other raw materials.
Luchi’s startup enterprise eventually became a family business, where Luchi’s family are very much involved. Her children now play major roles in the operations, design, production, and marketing aspects of CDO Handmade Paper.
Luchi’s enterprise continues to participate in local and international trade fairs organized by DTI. At present, her company serves clients from countries such as the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Netherlands.