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#LifeLokal: Mom-owned fashion brand Laya aims to set people free through clothes

By Camille Santiago Published May 20, 2022 9:13 pm

Sometimes, no matter how much money you’re making, if your dream job isn't making you that happy anymore, it's time to chase another goal. After 9 years working as a flight attendant, Beverly Lazaro left the industry to start a clothing brand, Laya.

"I was a breadwinner. I'm the panganay and then I used to work because I needed to send my brothers to school," she told PhilSTAR L!fe. Beverly, or Bev, was able to save up and send her siblings to school, but her job meant she would have to be away from them most of the time.

For a time, Bev felt conflicted. She would look for reasons to quit her job and move back to the Philippines, until she eventually decided to start a business in fashion.

"Gusto ko ng business na papalayaiin ako dito—not because I don’t love my job, parang lahat ng nagkaroon ako is because of my job. But yun nga, I want something na parang makakalaya ako and mafi-feel ko talaga yung freedom ko na eto yung gusto kong gawin na nasa Pilipinas ako," she said.

Thus the name Laya, from the Tagalog word "malaya" or free.

Bev created Laya in July 2019 for Filipinos who are looking for affordable but quality linen clothes—clothes that will make them happy, confident, and free.

"Gusto ko mafeel ng ibang tao na 'Ay pwede sakin yun. Nakita ko siya dun sa girl or 'di ko naman same ng katawan, pero I think masusuot ko yun.'"

Read more about Laya below.

Beverly Lazaro, founder of Laya

Can you tell us something about yourself? What made you want to start Laya?

Tuwing uuwi ako ng Manila [from my flights], lagi akong nagse-search ng local brands. Nagsu-support ako ng local brands especially kapag ang benta nila is linen. I started buying linen clothes kasi I want something na very chill lang, relaxed.

And then that’s when I started na parang "Oh why not just make my own brand?" Tapos one month in, may nag alok sa akin for a pop-up [bazaar]. Sabi ko "I wanna join, I want to know how it feels na nagbebenta ako ng sarili kong dress."

So that’s the time na umuwi ako in the Philippines for my first pop-up and then hindi na ako bumalik nun sa work ko ‘cause I fell in love with it. It is something that I really love eh—yung magbe-benta ka ng something that you’re proud of.

What's the story behind the name Laya?

I was a breadwinner. I'm the panganay and then I used to work because I needed to send my brothers to school. And then sabi ko, "Parang I really want to stay in the Philippines na hindi na ako kailangang malayo sakanila."

Tapos yun na nag iisip na ako ng name for my brand, 'yun na ang sinabi ko parang gusto kong maging malaya. Gusto ko ng business na papalayaiin ako dito—not because I don’t love my job, parang lahat ng nagkaroon ako it’s because of my job, but yun nga I want something na parang makakalaya ako and mafi-feel ko talaga yung freedom ko na eto yung gusto kong gawin na nasa Pilipinas ako, malaya ako na gusto ko yung ginagawa.

What Filipino values are instilled in your brand?

Creativeness, flexibility, being self-motivated and a strong work ethic are some of the Filipino values instilled in my brand. 

I also support our local community as most of my mananahi are seniors who are still providing for their family, and they have been part of Laya since day one, as well as our riders who deliver all the packages every week and they have a family to support din.

Sobrang focused ako on making Laya grow kasi I know that there are people who depend on my brand. I also make sure na sapat yung kinikita nila and above the minimum wage. So siguro yung pakikipagtulungan at pagmamalasakit yung Filipino culture na until now ina-apply ko to my brand.

How would you describe the clothes you sell?

Sa Pilipinas kasi wala tayong winter diba? So parang lahat summer lang siya palagi, parang laging mainit. So sabi ko ito yung brand na kailangan ko na masusuot lang ng maraming Filipino. Na hindi lang yung susuotin nila kasi kailangan nilang mag-abroad.

[I make clothes] that I would see myself wearing sa beach, sa mall, and nakikita ko rin sa iba na masusuot din nila. Comfortable and I want something na maganda yung quality but affordable, nasa middle lang siya hindi siya super mahal.

How do you take care of your clients?

Very important na sumasagot ka sa inquiries. I make sure na kukunin ko pa rin yung item para mafit talaga sa kanila so that I make them happy, para ma-satisfy talaga sila.

Sobrang focused ako on making Laya grow kasi I know that there are people who depend on my brand. I also make sure na sapat yung kinikita nila and above the minimum wage.

What do you want your clients to feel when they are wearing your clothes?

I want them to feel beautiful. Kasi ako meron akong mga damit, meron akong mga nabili na hindi ko nafi-feel na…yung hindi ako maganda pag suot ko yun.

Sa colors I make sure na enhancing talaga yung palette ko. Like mga yellow, hindi siya boring. I have nude colors also. Yung iba kasi hindi sila mahilig sa colors, but I make sure talaga na paghahaluin sila para balanced yung palette.

And then sa designs, loose kasi alam mo pag loose, maganda siya kahit different body frames, parang hindi kasi kunwari kaka panganak ko lang pwede mo isuot yun IVA dress ko, pwede mo siyang isuot kapag di pa nag sh-shrink yung belly mo diba?

Or kunwari gusto mo naman magbeach, pwede mo siyang isuot sa beach or going to the airport. Yun parang lahat halos di ako nag aano ng super fitted.

Tapos gusto ko mafeel ng ibang tao na "Ay pwede sakin yun. Nakita ko siya dun sa girl or 'di ko naman same ng katawan, pero I think masusuot ko yun."