Queens of Aton Ini – Mark Palabrica on Sustainable Fashion

In recent years, a wave of sustainable fashion has surged throughout the Philippines. With a need for more locally and ethically sourced products, a rising number of Filipinos have taken up the mantle of responsibility in pushing their green businesses forward.

Founded by Mark Palabrica, Aton Ini is one of them – combining Philippine craftsmanship with natural materials and community action. Taking advantage of regional textiles and locally abundant fibers like Abaca, Piña and Nito, Aton Ini is known for making bags, handwoven baskets, home decor and furniture, while also promoting eco – tourism.

“Aside from being locally made, this business venture enables women from the mountains to showcase their craftsmanship through making pieces that are stylish and universal.” Mark shares.

Another form of Aton Ini’s sustainability comes in the form of its driving force: empowered Filipinas from the mountains of IloIlo (as well as the surrounding regions). The brand has provided income opportunities and livelihood programs to an often-overlooked group of people and has proved especially beneficial considering the current pandemic.

“At this moment of time, where we are challenged by an enemy that we cannot see, we have to glimpse at other people’s lives especially those who have no direct access for basic needs and give thought to their struggles. That is why here at Aton Ini, we value our people and their work above all. Every weave the queens of Aton Ini makes has a story to tell, and we are the voice to tell their story in a way that we can impact millions of lives.” Mark says.

Formerly based in Dubai, Mark Palabrica left his modeling career to form Aton Ini. Currently, he pushes to promote the brand within the local market, hoping to export its goods soon. Until then, he continues to lead through a more ‘human’ approach.

“Kindness is not only limited to people who we think are capable of sharing because we are all able to lend a helping hand in our own different ways. We define ‘kindness’ not only by the things we can give but also the talents and skills we can share and the knowledge we can instill on other people.”