(Philippines) Gemma Minda Iso: enhance the beauty of homes with lighting fixtures, home decor, and utility items made from driftwood

July 11, 2023

The company name is Artepreneur Arts & Crafts. It intends to inspire creativity and enhance the beauty of homes with my collection of handcrafted lighting fixtures, home decor, and utility items made from driftwood. This startup strives to create sustainable and unique products that capture the essence of nature, bringing warmth, elegance, and a touch of coastal charm to every environment.

At Artepreneur Arts & Crafts, I am dedicated to the art of transforming driftwood into functional and artistic pieces that evoke a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature’s beauty. I aim to be the leading provider of handcrafted driftwood creations, constantly pushing the boundaries of design and craftsmanship to deliver exceptional quality and innovation.

I am committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. By repurposing driftwood, we minimize our impact on the environment and promote responsible sourcing. Through our business practices, I aim to inspire others to embrace eco-friendly alternatives and contribute to a greener future.

Ultimately, my mission is to bring the beauty of nature into people’s lives, creating a harmonious blend of functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability. With my driftwood creations, Artepreneur intends to inspire individuals to embrace the natural world and find joy in the simple elegance it offers.

Tell us about yourself?

My main source of income is writing. I write for a digital newspaper based in Singapore. I also write books (under my name/ non-fiction and fiction), and ghostwrite for others. I also do research and editing for busy professionals. My interest in driftwood began in 2019, during the pandemic. At that time, I was still connected with the local government unit as Culture & Arts Officer. When the lockdown came about, I worked from home and found to have so much time on my hands. That’s when I started making unused stuff, disregarded items, and turning them into useful home decor or to anything that can be utilized. Since usually, in the mornings, I would go brisk walking along the coastlines, and I would see many driftwoods floating on the water. I don’t know why or how, but I just got attracted to those pieces of driftwood. While they look ugly or useless in their natural form, in my mind, I can already imagine how they would look if something can be done to them. That’s how I started.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

To have the courage, to do the things I want to do, regardless of what others will say or think.

What problem does your business solve?

Purely logistics. I don’t have the much-needed capital yet to really go full-blast with my operations. Right now, I don’t use any specialized equipment or tools when I make my creations. But I don’t really consider it a problem, I know I’ll find a way and I know that this venture has a huge future waiting for it.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The concept that uselessness, that ugliness, can be transmuted into something else. It’s all about transformation and about going beyond the normal state of being. In this case, going beyond the normal state of being driftwood. I am hoping people will come to realize that with imagination and creativity, what used to be ugly or useless, is actually a thing of beauty and value that can last with the passage of time.

What is your magic sauce?

My creations use what is the natural or raw shape and form of the driftwood, that is where I base my design, which means, a particular item is “one-of-a-kind” because each driftwood has its own detailed look that cannot be duplicated.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Artepreneur intends to export its creations and achieve world-class quality not just in the aspect of aesthetics but more on craftsmanship. Likewise, it will not be confined to just creating items and artworks, it will also have books about the craft and the sustainability of the material, and will conduct talks and workshops.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

I’ve encountered the usual issues faced by business startups — acceptance, financing, and marketing the products. However, I don’t feel too challenged about them, they don’t bother me that much because I understand pretty well that when we go into ventures, there are always difficulties that accompany the operations. I think the reason why I don’t consider the challenges I am facing now as insurmountable is that my imagination and my dreams are far bigger than the issues I have at present. My determination to succeed has so much fire that the problems I encounter every day are easily consumed by my desire to reach my objectives.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?       

The people I want to reach out to me would include product distribution entrepreneurs, artists, Amazon sellers/resellers, book publishers, interior designers, architects, real estate developers, environment advocates, educators.

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