When Colleen Atienza and Brian Martinez decided to venture into a business partnership, designing and selling furnitures wasn't exactly what they had in mind - the two friends actually started out with an ice cream business. While their first venture didn't quite fare out the way they wanted it to, the two still kept in touch, staying supportive of each other's ventures. This arrangement didn't last very long as the two eventually felt a need to redeem themselves, constantly looking for the next opportunity to embark on another entrepreneurial journey.
Enter Casama. Born out of a common fondness for architecture and interior design, it became evident that the two friends may have found the next thing to pour their entrepreneurial giftings into.
Get to know the power duo behind Casama plus their stories and process behind their exclusive collection with Seek The Uniq.
Share a bit about how Casama started. What prompted you? Are there any inspirations or significant events that led to establishing the brand?
Casama was created during the start of the pandemic. As a contractor, some of our workers lost their jobs because of cancelled projects and/or projects put on hold. As an employer, instead of simply letting the workers go, I had to think of a way to sustain and to provide livelihood opportunities for them to support their families. Coincidentally, this happened during the time that I was moving in a new home. So instead of just buying furniture, I just paid them to do it. The idea of selling locally made furniture suddenly came into mind. I told Colleen about it and the next thing you know, we were already collecting orders from our close contacts since most people wanted to revamp their homes during the height of the pandemic.
What’s the best part about working on your brand?
As we always mention, Casama was started out of passion and compassion. Not only do we enjoy making furniture, we’re also extremely proud that we’re able to help and sustain livelihood opportunities for our workers during a crisis. It was a way of giving back to them and helping them during a time when they almost lost hope. We’re pleased to say that during the course of our business, as our operations expanded, more people and more families have also been supported.
What’s the most challenging part about the STU x Casama collab?
We’d like to think there is a bit more pressure on us since this is our first collaboration ever since we started. Not only are they a lot more established, Seek-the-Uniq is also really popular amongst the market that we aim to target. Apart from this, creating our products in very bright colors was a little nerve wracking. Our team is so used to making items in natural and earthy colors so making them loud and bright felt like us stepping in unchartered territory.
What’s the most fun or memorable part about the STU x Casama collab?
Easily the product development and innovation! We never imagined creating these kinds of products but yet we did. It was a very proud moment for us when we saw how happy the STU team were when we first brought in our samples. We were a little nervous about how they would react but we honestly thought that it went a lot better than expected! In a way, STU enhanced our capabilities and brought out the best in us.
Name one favorite item in your home that you didn’t make.
Our dining table that’s made out of glass and stainless steel – I personally think that it’s like a piece of art. It’s been in our family for years and has been a witness to a lot of good times. But regardless of how it looks, picking a dining table as a favorite item was an easy choice because this is always the center of the home. It is where the family gathers every day and on special occasions to share and create more memories together.
What inspires you creatively?
Looking at homes and furniture online definitely inspires us. We can spend hours just looking at different homes and furniture on the internet or watching different home tours on Youtube. Traveling can also be very inspiring. We love studying how things and places are designed and built. This is why we always make it a point to visit different hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s always exciting to come back from a vacation with new and fresh ideas in mind.
When designing furniture, walk us through your creative process.
We usually take inspiration on the current and up-and-coming design trends we see online. It is important that we learn how to localize pieces and make them our own. We consult with our team of workers on execution and how we can have it done using materials that are available in the Philippines. A lot of our designs are actually handmade that feature Filipino craftsmanship so before we release our products, we make sure to create a prototype first to test quality and durability. After this, we engage with different people, mostly belonging to our target market, and ask whether they’re willing to buy the product or not.
What part of the process excites you the most?
Seeing our designs come to life when our prototype gets created!
Name your top three designer influences.
We aren’t really keen on specific designers however we do follow certain themes which greatly influence our style. Tropical, Industrial and Bohemian are our top three themes.
Name three instagram handles of accounts that are a must-follow for you.
What was the best design advice anyone gave you?
Be yourself! You don’t always have to cater to the likes and needs of everybody else.
Do you have any tips for people when they’re buying furniture?
Everyone deserves a good #Casama in their home! *wink*
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