While a natural floral arrangement would only last for about five days, Accents and Petals Crafts and Accessories’ floral arrangements are different. Their creation lasts forever.
You might ask, is it possible? It’s a big yes! Thanks to the power and beauty of recycling and reusing.
Behind the Advocacy
Dean Cuanso, a social entrepreneur based in Baguio, Benguet and an advocate of environmental protections, initiated Accents and Petals Crafts and Accessories (CBN – PH000001012) not only to come up with a business but also to provide stable jobs to his fellow Cordilleran Indigenous People (IPs) with the help of sustainable materials that will benefit both the community and the environment.
Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs was able to get to know more with Dean and his initiative through this interview.
Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs (F): Can you kindly share more about the advocacy for your business?
Dean (D): Different government agencies and private entities have programs that give livelihood training and one of the most common is recycling. Our communities are very enthusiastic in the beginning but eventually stop i.e. making purses out of snack wrappers or flowers out of PET bottles because no one buys their craft regularly, no market, no knowledge on how to sell them etc. This is a concern that our social enterprise addressed.
It is not only about creating pretty things. We also believe in making a difference. We wanted to make a real and lasting impact on people’s lives by providing a meaningful employment for the community and hopefully CRAFTING a better life for them, one FOREVER flower at a time.
We gave free training and the majority of the participants have become our production partners. Our community has also become more aware of the benefits of recycling. Because they know we buy recyclable trash at a higher price than junkshops, people have become more inspired to segregate their garbage- the enterprise will not run out of waste materials to process. This goes beyond buying their trash but also encouraging them to emulate our enterprise.
F: What is the motivation behind your business?
D: The company was founded as a response to three concerns:
As a response to the great amount of waste produced by the various use of organic flowers. We sought to create a more sustainable, eco-friendly alternative, called “forever flowers,” or replicas of floras made from natural raw materials that include wood shavings and cornhusks among others. It is our goal to decrease waste by offering an eco-friendly and long-lasting alternative to real flowers.
As a response to the great number of recyclable materials that are being thrown away, that can otherwise be given new life. We recycle glass bottles, plastic bottles, plastic yarns, used magazines and newspapers, old books and more.
As a response to the shortage of employment opportunities, sharing our commitment to protecting the environment are our beneficiaries, employees and production partners. We are a group of Indigenous Peoples coming from the different provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region. As we expand and increase our beneficiaries, we will continue to extend our support to our community by providing them a stable livelihood.
We hope to make a difference through each piece of art we create.
Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs: You’re certainly making a difference, what are your challenges/ struggles pursuing a social enterprise?
D: For the past 7 years, 90% of our flowers were shipped overseas. Over 5,000 brides walked down the aisle carrying our forever bouquets. Florists and crafters from different parts of the world are incorporating our flowers in their eco-friendly creations. We have already shipped to more than 50 countries and counting.
While it was easy to market our products abroad, acceptance locally was a little harder. When we were introducing our flowers in 2010, brides, florists and event coordinators disregarded and labeled them as artificial and tacky.
It took a while for people to understand that what we are creating are much more than fake flowers. They are beautifully designed. They can last forever; They are unique and special. And most important, they can make the world a little better.
F: What is your message to millennials who are keen to venture entrepreneurship?
D: Every successful business / social enterprise needs a solid foundation. Nothing beats hard work. Knowing how the business works, being hands-on and always thinking one step ahead is a big factor to consider.
Do not go into business thinking that because it is better to advertise online, money will come in – sadly that is not the case. Competition is fierce and to survive it, go back to the basics.
Study your business proposal/development plan thoroughly, do the math, find mentors and inspirations. Consider everything. And If think you are ready. Go for it. Chances are, the success rate of every startup business depends on the level of preparation involved.
Having a business is not just about generating money. Dean proves that you can incorporate your advocacy to whatever endeavor you choose; you just have to be creative. For his part, he created flowers out of garbages that will surely last a lifetime.
As they believe on this statement, – we found on their website – “All things destined for the landfill are not necessarily garbage.”
CBN – PH000001012
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