Panublix: When Heritage Meets Sustainability

Cris Antonio |

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Consumers today are more discerning than ever. They investigate, ask questions, and connect with like-minded individuals before making a purchase. That’s why businesses have also stepped up their game. 

More than just offering goods and services, they’re now keenly aware of their impact on the world. It can be difficult finding such transparent and collaborative enterprises. But they’re definitely out there; making their mark on communities one step at a time. 

One such startup is Panublix.

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What is Panublix?

Founded in 2019, Panublix is a shared sourcing platform that connects weavers, designers, and brands with Philippine tropical textiles and yarns. The name comes from the Hiligaynon word ‘panubli-on’, meaning heritage or legacy. The ‘X’ stands for exchange. While the company is based in Iloilo City, their team works remotely from across Iloilo, Manila, and even abroad. 

Although the founders and team members come from various industries (tech, marketing, science, business, engineering, design, etc.), they’re all united by one thing – their love for the Philippines and its culture. Their mission? To link up creatives with local textiles and artisanal crafts so they can design a tomorrow that respects culture, humanity, and biodiversity (#kultura, #kapwa, #kalikasan).

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They’re agile, creative, passionate, and innovative. Panublix keeps their roots in our heritage, but builds their dreams on an international scale. One of their co-founders, Noreen Bautista, recognizes the growing sustainability movement around the world, and strives for the company to meet these demands. All while keeping quality and support for local weavers.

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Market and Partners

As a platform, Panublix serves three target markets. The first are weaving enterprises. They want to provide harmonious work settings rife with opportunities for career growth and development. Next are the artisans and entrepreneurs. With the power of e-commerce, they can quickly tap into markets they never thought of pursuing.

Lastly, their offerings – from eco-friendly yarns, hablon, to fibers - represent our heritage. During the late 18th century, Iloilo was sometimes referred to as the textile capital of the Philippines. But the beloved local fibers had to take a backseat with the introduction of cheaper materials, like polyester.

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Panublix hopes to encourage end consumers to patronize our own again. 100% Philippine-made, high-quality, and perfect for our tropical climate, we can rediscover our magnificent roots while building a more ecological lifestyle. What’s more, you know exactly where your money goes. 

They have partnered with different organizations to ensure novel products and updated processes. Two of their leading partners are the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) - Philippine Textile Research Institute, and The Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center (RYPIC) in Miag-ao, Iloilo. 

They, along with various schools, private sectors, as well as government agencies, have helped Panublix collaborate with Filipino weavers and garment makers.

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Fashion, Sustainability, and Soft Power

The concept of ‘soft power’ isn’t new. The term was first coined by American political scientist, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. during the 80s. To have ‘soft power’ is to persuade or have influence over others without using force or coercion. According to Nye as well as other experts, a successful country needs both hard and soft power. 

But how do you achieve this? Can the Philippines positively sway others towards our culture?

For folks in the Philippine textile industry, the answer lies in agriculture and fashion. As consumers become more conscious of their purchases, gone are the days of quick, mindless consumption. Today, people want to know what they’re buying - and why. 

There are all kinds of movements against fast fashion, for instance. Because of this, there’s a rising demand for local, environmentally-friendly products and raw materials, such as cotton and abaca. With their international connections, Panublix have assisted small entrepreneurs to meet these needs. 

In fact, the company reported a productive year in 2020 despite the pandemic. Some of their bestsellers were face masks, hablon (woven products) weaves, and scarves. A reasonable percentage (69.2% to be exact!) of their sales went to partner communities (mostly in Western Visayas and one in Abra), which helped families obtain income during hard times.

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As an e-commerce platform, Panublix also aided their partners gain new markets in over 30 countries. Somewhere out there, there are individuals wearing our hand-woven scarves, face masks, and dresses. Imagine our humble hablon soon on the runways of New York and Paris.

Now that’s soft power in action!

The Craft Economy by 2030

Panublix has a beautiful vision: they want to be part of a thriving Philippine tropical textile and artisan craft economy by 2030.

Not just a business, they’re invested in their partner communities, stakeholders, and employees. The team has their eyes on a future where local cultures are celebrated, the environment is respected, and creatives are designing for sustainable lifestyles.

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It can seem like a huge undertaking – but they’re getting there. Slowly but surely, their hard work, passion, and patience is being recognized not only in the national arena, but on a global scale. In October, 2021, Panublix became one of the top winners of She Loves Tech (Philippine edition), the world’s biggest startup competition for women and technology.

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They are currently working on PWEDE (Panublix Weaving Enterprise Digital Enabler), a program that aims not just to connect with local artisans, but also to provide data transparency for consumers and designers. The name ‘pwede’ translates to ‘possible’ in Filipino. 

Indeed, is there anything you can’t achieve once you put your mind to it? If Panublix has taught us anything, it’s this: that if your intentions are noble and true, your efforts will surely see you through. In the market for quality yarns and textiles for your craft projects? You can SHOP for materials directly from the Panublix website

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Author Portrait

Cris Antonio

Cris Antonio is a freelance Copywriter, Editor, and Speaker. If she’s not writing or editing, she helps business owners and young adults build their presence on the Web.