By Aisha Hassan on December 8th, 2021
Island in the sun
Ever since Kiko Kintanar was around 13 years old, he would go to his mother’s office after school. Christine Hamoy, Kiko’s mother, ran an accessories manufacturing company in the Philippines called Earth Works, and Kiko was never far from her side. “Growing up I was super involved in her business...I’ve been shadowing my mum since I was a child,” he says.
Fast forward through years of learning, pursuing fashion design (Kiko even exhibited his graduate collection during Milan Fashion Week), and realizing that the Filipino accessories industry was saturated with collections aimed at tourists. Kiko and Christine soon imagined another brand that was something more, one that was experimental and drew on their collective creative eye and skilled local artisans. “We both agreed to work on it together,” Kiko says. And so Moy Studio was born.
“Our roots are in a tropical country but we also imagine [Moy Studio] to be in bigger cities like New York and London,” Kiko explains. “So the vision is to keep that island feeling while still being worldly,” he says. The brand’s combination of modern design and indigenous Cebuano materials does just that.
Made from home
“Everything is sourced from Cebu, and my mom takes pride in it because she has really worked hard in perfecting that department,” Kiko says. This includes the ethically farmed Mamalis wood, for instance, that Moy Studio uses to create its beaded bags and jewelry.
Kiko, who is now Moy Studio’s Creative Director, often begins the design process by sitting down with one of the brand’s artisans and brainstorming around bleached wood. “I’m not really into drawing, I’m more into manipulating the actual components,” Kiko says. These components are all then hand-carved and dyed in-house before being crafted into pieces like the Luna Bag or Andie Necklace.
Moy Studio has a small team of artisans whose parents were often in the same trade, and who are constantly experimenting and perfecting their techniques. During the pandemic, their livelihoods were at stake and Moy Studio came close to shutting down. But they didn’t. And Moy Studio’s latest collection is an ode to that.
Onwards and upwards
“The new collection was inspired by people’s persistence to survive, and it’s a way for me to express our strength as a brand to have survived the pandemic,” Kiko says. “I wanted it to be right and powerful and striking, and at the same time still have a couple of staples,” he says. The Chuchi Earrings are an exuberant take on a floral design, for instance, while the Tala Bag is a duo-strapped stunner that Kiko describes as “ready for anything.” And while Christine has taken a back seat, Kiko recognizes that it’s her influence that taught him and his brother (who handles the export side of business) to persevere.
“She said don’t take things personally and find a way to move forward instead of dwelling on things that drag us down,” Kiko says. “During the pandemic, I learned that strength is not really something that can be seen and sometimes it’s very quiet...I know my mom fought hard for her business, she was fighting silently, and I applaud her for that,” he adds. “Just being persistent and pushing and never giving up.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.