It is a joy to see a growing number of home-grown Filipino creatives offering the best of what they’ve got to the local market. And local artisan options are no longer limited to just clothes, accessories, homewares, furniture and preserved food. How cool is it to know that there’s a local maker you can turn to for those extra special purchases for the most special people in your life. Little White Pouch offers quality handcrafted bespoke jewellery pieces, including engagement rings and wedding bands.
Let’s get to know the designer and owner behind Little White Pouch, as Yani Monroy shares with us how the business began, the process involved in creating their jewellery, her inspiration, plus tips on buying genuine jewelry.
What’s the story behind the shop name?
All orders come in a simple little white canvas pouch. Since I want the store to exude simplicity and approachability, I decided to use it as the namesake and representation of the brand, much like Tiffany’s little blue box. However, I also wanted others to see that jewelry isn’t always for the ostentatious. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. Jewelry is for everyone who appreciates it.
How did you learn jewelry-making and how long have you been doing this?
I personally do not know how to make jewelry. We have our very talented jewelry artisans who do that for us. I do usually, at the clients’ requests, design and create pegs for the bespoke orders. As much as I would like to learn and create the items on my own, it would take away time from the micro-management part of the business. Hopefully, in a few years, I would find the time to study jewelry-making.
Officially, I have been doing this for three years now but I dabbled in my dad’s jewelry reselling on and off in the years before that.
What inspired you to start this business?
My dad was the one who started my interest in jewelry. I saw his passion for the business and in a way, I want to continue his legacy as an alahero – pretty strange term as most jewellers here in the Philippines are women called “alaheras”. He loves helping people out with this business by selling elegant but affordable jewelry. I’m inspired to do the same.
What kinds of materials do you use for your creations?
We use 14 karat and 18 karat gold for our items. Most of the gold we use is locally mined. Our stones are also locally sourced from different suppliers – supporting local precious stone/gem businesses.
Do you use recycled materials and if not, do you have plans of incorporating recycled/upcycled materials to your creations?
We sometimes use post consumer diamonds, precious stones, and recycled gold. We’ve had projects where a client would come to us asking to set the Diamonds and gems of their heirloom jewelry in a more modern setting. We sometimes do jewelry resetting which, in some way, is sort of recycling since the materials used are not brand new.
We’re currently exploring on buying pawned items to use the stones or gold that are still in excellent condition.
Can you share with us the process of creating these items?
It’s actually a really straightforward process. After an order has been made, I start with a sketch on my dotted notebook – this is very important for the symmetry and proportions of my drawings. I then look for the appropriate stones for these pieces, whether from a supplier or my personal arsenal. I bring my sketch and materials to our goldsmiths and I also bring them merienda for morale. :p
After a few weeks, I go back to check on the jewelry’s form and setting. If everything looks good, I have the stone set already. I review it again and sometimes have it redone if it doesn’t pass my inspection. Once the stone setting and ring form is okay, I take photos of the item and have it ready for delivery, which takes up to 3-5 days after item completion. The production process is the most nerve-wracking for me so I always pray to God that the item will come out as expected and perfect.
I’m really OC with my items, especially engagement rings, and I make sure that the jewelry is done the way we, the client and I, envision it. On the average, it takes up to 7 weeks to finish an item.
What are your top 3 favorite picks from your shop?
SALT AND PEPPER RING
This is my personal favorite as you can clearly see its flaws and all. I love salt and pepper diamonds. It is very organic and true to its flaws. In a way, I relate to it as a human being that despite my flaws, I am still precious.
OPAL SUNBURST RING
Just the beautiful setting makes the lab opal extravagant but what makes it more special is the culmination of affordable materials all set in a unique, delicate piece. It exudes a playful elegance you wouldn’t expect from lab made opal and tiny slightly colored diamonds.
TANZANITE ENGAGEMENT RING
Another unexpected piece. I love the brilliance of the tanzanite. This honestly did surprise me. It has the brilliance and fire of a diamond but at a more affordable price point.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Starting Little White Pouch on my own, I initially had a hard time with business management. With a background in Information and Interior Design, I tend to use the right side of my brain more so numbers aren’t really my strong suit. I was really challenged with the administrative side of the business. I had to discipline myself to record, label inventories and also watch my spending. I tend to hoard stones sometimes so I have a lot of jewelry clutter. I also learned to be more disciplined and organized since I am dealing with very small yet valuable things. I have also learned to get help so I now have a teammate. And even though there’s just two of us in the online world of LWP it has already helped a lot in terms of efficiency.
What do you love most about what you do?
Seeing the reactions of my clients when they finally get their bespoke jewelry. I once had a client who was shivering while opening the package and almost cried when he saw the engagement ring that he was going to give to his then-girlfriend. These moments really charge me up and push me to deliver the best quality products for my clients.
Is there anything you dislike about it?
Little White Pouch has mostly been rewarding but I do have a hard time letting go of jewelry that I want for myself. There are some items that I do wish for myself then I remind myself that I have a kid to feed. There’s also that: because of my passion for LWP, I also have to let go of precious time with my kiddo. Of course, I am lucky and grateful that I get to work from home. It just takes a little patience playing tug-of-war with work and Frida.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in nature, specifically my dad’s plants. He has an expansive garden at home and a potent green thumb. I love creating patterns out of tiny flower buds, leaves and creepy crawlers. Looking at them trains my eyes to see the natural harmony of colors and shapes that can be reflected on the jewelry we make. Our house is surrounded by plants and flowers and every morning I go outside with my little girl to play in the garden. I feel like being surrounded by this environment lets me see the natural beauty of things and I think I bring this into the work I do. In fact, I have often used the greenery, or some random leaves, as the background of some of my photos.
Do you have tips for those who are planning to buy jewelry but might have a limited budget?
Genuine jewelry can be a bit expensive but it is something that will last for generations. I always advise my clients, most often boyfriends buying engagement rings, to stay within their budget. Although most of my items are wallet-friendly, genuine bespoke jewelry is really something to save up for. If there is something that you want, you can always save up for it. If you already have an allotted budget, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can customize a piece that is within your working budget.
Aside from making jewelry, what are your other interests/passion?
My dream house (CTO). As an Interior Designer, I have a passion for spatial aesthetic and architecture, more specifically the Tiny House Movement. I also enjoy learning ways to improve ventilation in tropical homes. I’m in the process of designing my dream house so every now and then I do my research on creating a well-ventilated tiny house. Oh, and I also have a passion for prosciutto and cheap wine.
Where can we find you?
At the moment, I am most active in Instagram, so feel free to send me a DM. Sending me an email (email@example.com) is the fastest and most effective way to get in touch with me. I am also setting up my inactive Facebook page and a blog is currently in the works. If you want to meet in person, you can set a schedule with me. I do scheduled meetups with clients on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, usually in the Ortigas area.
Your message to customers and friends:
Thank you for your support and trust, guys. Thank you for bringing up LWP’s ante by asking us to make such unique pieces for you. Please know that I am really trying my best to bring that dream bling to life.
I’m in the process of creating a ready made collection and improving the business. Watch out for that 🙂
Don’t you just love getting to know a little bit more about the person that makes or designs the things you love? Especially if it’s a customised jewelry as precious as an engagement ring or wedding bands. Surely, working with someone who you know is just as passionate and excited as you are to come up with a piece that’s not only beautiful but that trully connects with you makes all the difference.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be part of the blog, Yani!
All photos by: LWP