Reese Fernandez-Ruiz


Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, wearing bayo

Co-founder and President of Rags2Riches—an artisan line of bags, purses, and more that empowers and creates a sustainable living for community artisans based in the Philippines—Reese Fernandez-Ruiz is a creative and business woman combined. But she didn’t want just any kind of business—she wanted something she felt strongly about and could bring about a better world. So through an immersion experience in university, she was found her purpose.

“We met a group of talented artisans who made foot rugs out of fabrics but were only earning around 10-16 pesos a day because they didn’t have access to the supplies or the market. So we decided to become their business partners because the best way to create social impact in communities is through solid partnerships.”

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz Bayo clothing
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz 25 women

With this in mind and the challenge to gain the community’s trust, Reese and her team went all in and collaborated with the community to build their long-term partnership. Fast forward 10 years and Rags2Riches have expanded to other communities and has, in its own little way, raised the standard of living of the Filipino families in the communities that they work with.

“There was this one testimonial from our Christmas party with our community artisans. There was this young girl, one of the daughters of our artisans, who is now also an artisan herself. And she was talking about how her mother and her work in R2R was able to send her to school. I think that’s beautiful. That in the thick of things, we realize that these are real lives of real people and the things we do together have an impact beyond what our eyes can see.”

A new mom herself, Reese knows the importance of creating a better world for the future generations—and this is precisely what she’s doing through Rags2Riches. By giving Filipino families opportunities, Reese—just like Bayo—elevates the lives of our people through products proudly made in the Philippines.

Watch out for the rest of these stories and join Bayo as we celebrate 25 years of culture, fashion and all things “Made in the Philippines.”

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