Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

#LifeLokal: Ola Haus brings a ray of sunshine with its one-of-a-kind bags

By AYIE LICSI Published Jul 08, 2022 11:03 am

A bag is a bag. It's a tool for carrying your daily essentials and a fashion item—but wouldn't it be better if it carried a story, too?

This is what Ola Haus intends with each of its artisan creations. Every weave and every cord used to create the bags echo the stories of the designer and the hands that made them.

The idea to make each bag unique came about after partners and founders Kyla Olives-Laurel and Jay Laurel took a trip to Spain.

"When we went to the Gothic Quarter, we thought this was something that we could be doing here in Manila. Like a store of curiosities. When you enter the store and you feel like you’re entering a dream," Kyla told PhilSTAR L!fe. "And when you ask them where it's from, it's all these different places and the [storeowner] knew each person [who made the items] personally."

Currently, Ola Haus offers a wide variety of one-of-a-kind bags and baby clothes. The couple hopes to expand their brand with other tchotchkes they find interesting in the future.

Founders Kyla and Jay Laurel with their daughter, Barcelona

Can you tell us the story behind the brand's name?

Jay: “Ola” is a shortcut for our names, Olives and Laurel, so that’s what it sounds for.

Kyla: We came from Spain in September 2019. We were sort of on a high with the feeling that we had when we were there so when we thought of the name, this is perfect. It’s a fun hello, very friendly. 

Jay: By the time we launched it, a lot of people were going through mental health stuff because of the pandemic and we wanted to be a ray of sunshine even when you’re at home. 

Kyla: We sold bags during the pandemic when no one was going anywhere so...

Jay: It’s something to look forward to when you go out and you’re going to use it. 

Kyla: When we think of Ola Haus, it’s always something very whimsical, very dreamy, something that will make you smile. Even when we do our pieces, we always try to bring something new to the table.

How do you make your brand stand out?

Jay: We wanted to build a natural community without having to boost posts or buy followers or give too much products to influencers. It’s word of mouth. We’re very fortunate that the first people who bought the bags liked them so much and told their friends about them.

Kyla: A good part of our clients also, when they see other people with an Ola Haus bag, they say hello because they know there’s so few of them. Parang “Oh! Nag-abang ka din!”

One time, we had two clients who saw each other in a coffee shop in Boracay and they became friends! They even took a photo and sent it to us. It’s nice kasi parang the feeling of happiness, joy, carefreeness is seen in the bags. We’re lucky because even our clientele, they’re creative individuals, they dress well, and like nice things—it’s something we’re proud of also.

How does your Filipino heritage influence your brand values and identity?

Jay: Kyla is also running Olive Tree, a proudly Filipino brand making linens, fabric, pillows—everything manufactured locally. One of the things that they were proud of is it’s not imported from China and everything is done here. We wanted to embody that same Filipino cultural heritage with our brand. Everything is made here by the same artisans that make the Olive Tree products. During the pandemic when there wasn’t much work, we found a way to help these workers make money on the side also. 

A bag is a bag. It’s even more meaningful if there’s a story behind it and even more meaningful when the hands that made it are Filipino. — Kyla Olives-Laurel

Kyla: Another thing is yung pagiging masayahin ng Filipino. That’s a part that we focused on. We always ask ourselves if what we’re doing is making other people happy. We try to be sustainable as much as we can. From start to finish, it’s Filipino. 

Jay: When Kyla was a kid, her parents put up Olive Tree for her to run. Kami, we have a daughter born in February 2021, and Kyla wanted to do the same for her. We started this, which will eventually be passed on to her if she likes it.

Kyla: That’s the dream. Hopefully, our daughter Barcelona likes it. 

For me, when you think of a Filipino, it’s someone who cares about family and wants to have fun kahit hirap na sa life. That’s why we’re masayahin. And if you look at our body of work at Ola Haus, a lot of it has Spanish names because both of us are part Spanish also, but most of it is very Filipino.

How do you want your customers to feel when carrying Ola Haus bags?

Jay: I’ve never carried one but Kyla carries the same bag even for formal occasions and she’ll get the same compliments—if not more—as she would if she used a branded bag. Kyla is very creative and she doesn’t want to be put in a box that she just uses branded bags na mahal. 

Kyla: I want our clients to be proud to wear our bags because it’s local. The cords are made here, labor is here, the fabric is made here. A bag is a bag. It’s even more meaningful if there’s a story behind it and even more meaningful when the hands that made it are Filipino. I do have my influences from abroad but I always find a way to bring in the Filipino spirit or any Filipino quirk.