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This Award-Winning School Project Is Now A Growing Fashion Business Producing Trendy Bags From Coconut Husks

We've heard about pineapple barongs before, now it's time for coconut husk bags to hit the market.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/TERRA_PHILS, INSTAGRAM/YAELLESANCHEZ

Raphaella Mae Sanchez, known by her friends as Yaelle, is currently taking up Marketing Management & Behavioral Sciences Major in Organizational and Social Systems Development at De La Salle University Manila and is the Human Resources Executive Vice President of Terra. She identifies herself as a boss because she sees herself as someone who’s self-inspired and is assertive when it comes to she wants in life. “I always work in style and with confidence.”

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Terra started as a school project when their campus partnered with JA Philippines, a non-governmental organization that promotes young entrepreneurship and enhances business skills. She and her friends had to compete against other schools where they were chosen to be one of the two representatives that got to represent the Philippines in the JA Asia Pacific Competition. There they managed to bag two major awards: First Place in Company of the Year Award and FedEx Award.

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Now, the brand has evolved into an eco-friendly bag label inspired by the coconut, the tree of life. Yaelle and her team noticed that so many coconut shells are being discarded each year. They saw this as an opportunity to “transform it into something useful and stylish, since we love fashion.” We’ve heard about pineapple barongs before, now it’s time for coconut husk bags to hit the market!

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As the Human Resources Executive Vice President of Terra, Yaelle saw that having a team composed of people with different personalities and approaches can be both a strength and a weakness. She said “It is really hard to manage a team [with] different personalities. All of us had to learn how to work and communicate with each other maturely in order to get the job done. And that worked for us because we were able to achieve a lot at such a young age.” But they never failed to open their eyes to new perspectives and ideas offered by each of them. Such great team dynamics, right?

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Moving forward, they are planning to create belt bags because they're currently on-trend. And noticing that their designs are more inclined to a lady’s tastes, they also plan to cater to their guy audience who express their interest in purchasing a bag but couldn’t because of the limited designs.

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Yaelle wants to tell the readers “to keep dreaming big because the possibilities are endless.” Transitioning from the shy girl who is afraid to speak up in class because she’s intimidated by her classmates who she thinks are so much better than her, to finally putting herself out there. She is truly a butterfly who has morphed and spread her wings to go and see the world.

A quote that really inspired her to recognize her capabilities is “no one is you and that is your power.” She holds on to this because she believes that “all of us is unique in our own way and we all grow in different paces. We should all learn to empower ourselves to maximize our capabilities.”

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