Baguio City’s silvercraft silver linings; eyes markets in ‘new normal’

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Domestic trading for small manufacturing businesses, especially those under non-essential industries, have been greatly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. While majority await the discovery of COVID-19 vaccine, workers under these industries were left in a quandary on whether they should shift their business to another industry, hold on and wait for things to stabilize or give up altogether. Among these non-essential businesses is the jewelry industry which is responsible for providing employment to more than 100,000 workers nationwide, according to Board of Investments (BOI).

In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), particularly Baguio City, the silver jewelry industry was a thriving industry sustained by various handicraft shops specializing in silver jewelry and other filigree products.  Notwithstanding its problems, the silver craft industry still generates revenue for the region, making Baguio City famous not only for its cool climate and temperate fruits and vegetables, but also for the abundance of silver jewelry products.

TAWIDCRAFT Corporation; the journey of a silvercraft

An epitome of one such thriving industry is the TAWIDCRAFT Corporation, an enterprise that specializes in the production of fine quality silver jewelry products. Tawid, an Igorot term which means inheritance, was a term explicitly chosen by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Rimando, to convey to its customers the fact that indeed their products are worth handing down from generation to generation.

TAWIDCRAFT joined the silvercraft industry in 1992 and was registered with the Department of Trade and Industry in the same year. The enterprise, which is blessed with artistic and creative owners has since then joined various productivity missions here and abroad to enhance their skills, widen their perspectives and update the corporation on the existing trends in the silver craft industry.

The company started from a basic mano-mano processes in producing jewelry which is still being practiced at present for some products, since it can only be produced by hand. With a meager initial capitalization of Php10,000.00, the TAWIDCRAFT has grown into one of the bigger businesses in the industry, which is now supplying SM Boutiques, in addition to trade fairs and exhibits where TAWIDCRAFT showcases its fine quality silver jewelry products. In fact, the corporation started producing its silver jewelry in a shed at the back of the proprietors’ residence. Now, a 3-storey building is being used for production with the top floor as a showcase room of their silver jewelry products.

DOST upgrades TAWIDCRAFT; the silver lining

In 1999, the Department of Science and Technology-CAR provided technological support with the provision of two equipment i.e. electric wax injector and steam dewaxer, through its Regional Grants-in-Aid (GIA) program. In 2001, the TAWIDCRAFT Corporation was once again assisted by DOST-CAR through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP). The program invested Php200,000.00 for the acquisition of several equipment such as M Rotary Tumbler, Vulcanizer, Foredom CC-FCT-30 Motor and Automatic Vacuum Wax Injector. Aside from these, Mrs. Rimando joined DOST-CAR sponsored seminars on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and Packaging and Labeling.

DOST-CAR also provided technical consultancy services in 2007 through DOST’s Manufacturing Productivity Extension (MPEX) Program. Through the MPEX, the enterprise was able to reinforce its strengths, resolve its weaknesses and identify areas for improvement. Further, a strategic planning workshop was conducted on May 23, 2008 with the Calzado Management Consultancy to come up with a draft vision, mission and growth strategy that reflects the TAWIDCRAFT’s legacy of fine quality work and unique designs, excellent management skills and commitment to customer satisfaction.

In 2010, the company availed of another SETUP assistance with the project entitled “Sterling Tableware: A New Direction in Silvercrafts Manufacturing for Tawid Crafts.” This project focused on the provision of technology interventions to enable the firm to diversify products to include sterling silver tableware, increase production and expand market outlets.

DOST’s provision of technology interventions through the years, coupled with the hard work and determination of the company to succeed in the business has resulted to the improvement of production efficiency and product quality. The continuous R&D on product and process has resulted to product expansion and diversification, one of which is the above-mentioned production of sterling silver tableware. Moreover, the company has supported the local employment of Baguio City with the 16 direct and 11 indirect employments.

Hopes turn into realities; TAWIDCRAFTS innovates additional products

The continuous research and development on products and processes have resulted to product expansion and diversification, some of these are faster waxing, lost wax and centrifugal casting, improved prototyping methods through rubber mold production, improved finishing stages efficiency, and improved benchworking processes.

“Part of our marketing is taking care of our loyal patrons. We try our best to provide a solution to their needs. We never say no to them until we have exhausted every possible way to help. As a result, our customers have been spreading our name through word of mouth to their families and friends, who in turn come to us with other products that they want to purchase,” said Daniel Rimando, TAWIDCRAFT manager and the owner’s son.

He also added that their latest innovation is incorporating weaving into the processes to produce a new set of designs that would cater to a new demand from the market. They have also tried venturing into Gold jewelry such as engagement and wedding rings, as there is also a market in the wedding events.

TAWIDCRAFT, surviving the COVID-19 crisis

Being in the luxury items industry, the company have reported no sales since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. This pandemic has restricted its operations but its savings and financial aid from the government has helped and sustained its workers and their families during this crisis.

COVID-19 may be the invisible enemy that is slowly tearing down and burying the dreams of non-essential business workers but this did not deter TAWIDCRAFT. Instead, it is now more determined to find ways to gain back the demand for the industry and in turn maintain the jobs of its workers.

TAWIDCRAFT continues to advertise its products in several local bazaars and is looking into various options on marketing strategies to reach a wider set of customers. At present, it is strengthening its online marketing platforms during the ‘new normal’. For now, the company can be reached through their social media accounts but it will be launching its own website, soon.

By DOST-CAR S&T Promotion Unit
Photo lifted from Tawid Silver Facebook page

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