Reese Fernandez-Ruiz founded Rags2Riches (R2R) in 2007 to work with community artisans to create eco-ethical fashion and home accessories. “Our goal is to be a sustainable and reliable life and livelihood partner to artisans from poor areas of the Philippines,” said Fernandez-Ruiz.
Based in Quezon City in the Philippines, Fernandez-Ruiz oversees a team of 35 people who run the growing global business. R2R has a strong focus on establishing a presence in the Philippines, but Fernandez-Ruiz also sees tremendous potentials of global markets to expand her business and help scale her positive impact on women artisans.
“Our goal is to scale the R2R model to more community artisans. In order to do this, we need to start exploring and expanding our market to more cities and countries,” she explained.
R2R exports to retailers and distributors, including well-known brands such as Anthropologie, in countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. “We work with like-minded and like-hearted retailers and distributors who share our products as well as stories to their advocates,” said Fernandez-Ruiz.
The company also sells directly to consumers via a slick online e-commerce shop called “Things that Matter,” powered by Canada-based Shopify. “Instagram is the most effective for us in terms of driving traffic to our online store and converting to sales,” Fernand-Ruiz said, and noted that she uses “a lot of cloud-based tools for our operations” including Google Suite, Dropbox, and PayPal.
“We are a small enterprise with global aspirations and global distribution, we rely on the accessibility and affordability of cloud-based services to enable us to reach our markets as well as each other,” shared Fernandez-Ruiz. She sees a lot of potential in other ASEAN countries to grow her international sales and network “given the right partners and advocates.”
“Make sure you’re ready,” advises Fernandez-Ruiz, both to produce sufficient volume and in terms of mindset and organization. “Going global means that you’ll be connecting with people from different backgrounds, experiences, and time zones and you’ll need to learn to adjust quickly in order to serve these potential customers in the best way possible.”
She also advises entrepreneurs to “be unique, authentic and tell a great story.” Fernandez-Ruiz followed her own advice, as her website and marketing materials consistently emphasize the message that “We make things that matter and weave joy into every story.”