Everyone has their own story of beauty and #OwnYourHabitude turns the spotlight to some of the most influential and talented individuals. In this interview series, we define beauty and dissect personal beauty habits—from the hours we more or less sleep, how we prep up or undress our skin, what we do and how we do it day in and day out. We are the sum total of our habits and #OwnYourHabitude celebrates each of us.
Presented through the collaborative efforts of creatives in the Manila scene, meet young designer and entrepreneur, Czarina Toledo.
1. What inspired you to put up a brand of your own? What’s the biggest thrill about launching Meraki?
I had the desire to make clothes because I never found a brand that suited my style and my personality 100%. I would say I'm very feminine in a tomboy way, if that makes sense. Back in college, when I was still exploring my personal style, streetwear was at its height and I resonated so much with it.
Growing up with influences from music and dance, to sports and pop culture, I found myself a community of very loving and creative people who have inspired me beyond words. Although I noticed at that time, most local streetwear brands were for men or designed by men.
I wanted to be different and share new ideas to the table while also uplifting my fellow women and our strengths. I wanted to make the statement that women can be pretty bad ass too—rocking baggy clothes, looking super fly. Haha! Jokes aside, I wanted to do something about my dreams. Turn them into reality instead of just ideas in my head.
The biggest thrill about launching Meraki at that time was if people would also resonate with our style and our stories. Although we had so much fun experimenting with the clothes, the thought of other people understanding our craft and our identity as a brand was way more important for us. We wanted to not just be a local streetwear brand who sells clothes but to be a brand that really cared about the community, lifting each other up, spreading what Meraki really meant: to do something with soul, creativity and love; putting oneself to work.
2. What are the habits that fit your lifestyle as a Designer? as an Entrepreneur?
As a designer you have the right to play around. It’s so fun, actually! You’re in control of all the details, from stitch to fabric to silhouette. You get to write your own story as a designer, that’s what I really enjoy. Although it takes so much patience before the final outcome, in the end, everything is always worth the wait. As an entrepreneur on the other hand, I really believe consistency is key, although that’s still something we have to work on.
3. How do you relate beauty in the designs you make?
By leaving bits and pieces of myself in every creation
4. What are the things you wish you knew before starting up a clothing line?
That you really have to love the process wholeheartedly. With Meraki, we had a few bumps on the road especially when we were just starting out—the sourcing of materials, monitoring of samples, marketing, shipping, posting, looking for mananahis, etc. At first I was overwhelmed with the amount of work and hours I had to put in, but somehow it also motivated me because with everything I was doing, I was even more fulfilled. I got to learn and improve more and more every day and I still do. Trust the process! The only way is through.
5. When you think about beauty, what comes to your mind?
To me, beauty is very broad. It’s not one thing, it’s multiple things—stories, ideas, people, movement, nature, art, values, expression, dreams. Anything that has the purest intention is beauty to me.
6. How do you deal with beauty standards?
Growing up, I was pretty insecure about how I looked, basing it on what society defined as “acceptable.” I would always be conscious about my appearance, how I talk, my size, my skin, my height, how I dress. Growing to the person I am today, I am a firm believer that beauty has no standards and beauty is not about the physical things. Most of the time, it’s about what’s inside versus what’s on the outside.
7. Can you tell us about your beauty habits? Tell us your beauty routine.
Allot eight hours of sleep, drink loads of water. I try to eat healthy—although I also don’t like depriving myself if ever I have a craving or two. Bask under the sun at least 30 to 45 minutes every morning before work.
Skin care! Moisturizer-sunscreen-and-lip balm is life. I try to stay active by working out from time to time to release toxins and bad vibes.
8. When do you feel most beautiful?
When I get to freely express myself either with designing a piece of clothing or wearing an outfit I put together—that’s when I feel most beautiful.
9. What’s your favorite Habitude about yourself?
That I am different and being different is a strength rather than a weakness. Realizing and embracing that thought really helped me empower not just myself, but also the people closest to me. As much as possible, I try to be the best version of myself in order to also help others be the best version of themsleves. I am and will forever be grateful for all the experiences, learnings, and love from everyone. Without all these, I wouldn't be who I am today.
Produced by @veneyyy
Photographed by @mikofoto_
Shot on location at @rusticfinds.ph