Northloom is the passion project of Dindo Llana, an award-winning illustrator and painter from Ilocos Norte. The Northloom tagline is “Carry Your Culture” — all their products feature the traditional handwoven Ilocano abel, which they combine with canvas or leatherette to fashion the most beautiful backpacks, yoga bags, totes, wallets, and…
Passport holders! I got my passport holder today and it matches my backpack…yay!
Now, I know I’ve posted about Northloom a lot, so let me tell you why I’m such a proud Northloom supporter.
Abel weaving is a Filipino art that is unfortunately dying off because it is such a tedious and time-consuming process — a 50-yard roll of abel binakul usually takes a whole month to weave — and so for most Ilocanos it’s just not an economically viable endeavor. It’s a tradition that is close to Dindo’s heart, I think not only because he is an Ilocano himself but because he’s one of the most nationalistic artists I know. His love for the Philippines and the Filipino culture is palpable in his paintings and drawings, and his social media posts are often peppered with social and political commentary. Other entrepreneurs might shy away from politics so as not to alienate potential customers, but not Dindo — so you can tell it’s something he really feels strongly about.
Genuine — I think that’s the word that best describes Northloom. There is no PR person, no advertising campaigns (even though Dindo has a long experience as an advertising art director), no fluff. Just the products themselves and word of mouth from happy, often repeat, customers. It’s a cottage industry more than anything, and yet even the word “industry” is a stretch. Northloom sources abel directly from the weavers, employs a revolving group of underprivileged women in Manila to create the bags, and Dindo himself is (in his own words) “the management team, the finance team, the operations team, the marketing team, the messengerial team” all in one. When I say Northloom is his passion project, I really do mean it’s his passion project. And in a world of carefully strategized lifestyle advocacies and social media drives, a take-it-or-leave-it what-you-see-is-what-you-get passion project is just a refreshing thing to see.
Anyway, if you’re interested in checking out their products, Northloom has a Facebook page that you can browse and message for orders.
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