entrepreneur’s bounce back story amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
July 14, 2020
MAKATI CITY – The
coronavirus disease or COVID-19 has greatly affected many lives and
the country’s economy. As entrepreneurs struggle to adjust their
business strategies, it has become a challenging situation for them,
most especially the micro and small enterprises. Nonetheless, for
Harley Dave Beltran, owner of Handcrafted by Harl’s, every cloud has
a silver lining.
Known as the only micro
social enterprise in the country, Handcrafted by Harl’s in San
Pedro, Laguna started its business in 2014. This homegrown brand is
known in their innovative and unique genuine leather products such
as bags, coin purses, cellphone cases, gadget organizers, clocks,
stools, bow ties, belts, sandals, slippers, key chains, tags,
wallets, and other customized items.
With the aim to promote
local artistry, Harl’s produces crafts valuable to the community,
coinciding with its social responsibility to provide employment to
people with disability and underprivileged craftsmen. They train
aspiring artisans to produce products that would qualify in the
While some companies use
machines in certain phases of the manufacturing process, Harl’s
takes pride with their products that are purely and skillfully
handmade. What sets them apart from other leather brands is how they
use waste materials and genuine “rugged” type full grain leather to
create upcycled products. Their products have visible natural
leather markings on them such as a few scratches, discoloration, or
burn marks to give more character and uniqueness to the products.
They do not use linings and make only one of each product,
especially with their bags. Every batch produced has different sets
of leather choices and, these same items are not produced again. All
these are crafted proudly and dexterously by differently-abled
workers who are either mute, deaf, or cripple.
For the past years, Harl’s
handcrafted items are staple products at the regional and national
trade fairs and bazaars of the Department of Trade and Industry
(DTI). In 2018 at the DTI’s Sikat Pinoy National Trade Fair and
National Arts and Crafts Fair, differently-abled workers from Harl’s
conducted a leathercrafts workshop where guests can create their own
wallet, coin purse, and other leather goods.
But like any other
businesses, Harl’s was caught off guard when the pandemic happened.
“I had to unload the ship
for it to sail further. To put it simply, I needed to let go one of
my stores. I needed to prioritize what’s best for the company and
for my employees,” said Harley.
“We were not prepared for
the pandemic, but what can we do about it? Instead of constantly
thinking of problems and feeling dejected, I use my time during this
quarantine period to become more productive by thinking of new ways
for my business to survive and to sustain the needs of my
employees,” added Harley.
With these in mind, Harl’s
started crafting face masks made from leather and ticog mat, and
they call it maska. Ticog is harvested by an Abre Linea weaving
community in San Miguel, Leyte.
According to Harley, maska
doesn’t just provide safety but also comfort and durability because
of the materials used. One purchase of maska will not only feed one
PWD family but will also support San Miguel’s weaving community.
Moreover, through the
donations of customers and friends, Harley conducted the “Harl’s
COVID-19 Response” by distributing relief packages to several
underprivileged and PWD families in their area.
“Harl’s bounce back story
is very remarkable. We hope that his experience will help our MSMEs
to be inspired to move forward and start the process of putting
their businesses back on track. We, in the DTI, and with our
programs and activities for our MSMEs want them to be ready to
embrace the new normal,” said DTI CALABARZON Director Marilou Q.
DTI, through the Regional
Operations Group headed by Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona, has
been responsive to help MSMEs across the regions cope with the
pandemic through provision of various programs that will gear them
up as they face the new normal.
“Harl’s is here not to
have business; we’re here to inspire and survive. We continue to
serve our purpose by helping others,” said Harley.
Harley believes that your
action matters, so act now.