Established in 1999, Sombrero de Manila has been supplying hats and bags to North America, Europe, Australia, South America, Japan and the rest of Asia. Eighty percent of production is geared to its overseas markets, while the remaining 20% supplies the domestic market.
Its handcrafted products are made from indigenous materials sourced from various regions of the Philippines: buri, buntal, bacbac, bamboo, abaca, raffia, sinamay and many others. The company takes pride in its use of natural, environment-friendly raw materials. The straw hats, bags and other items complement both casual and formal wear.
The current owners took over the business from an elderly lady, having sustained interest in an export business, as well as in hats. “We felt that exporting would be an answer to our dream and at the same time be our way of helping promote Philippine products.” They attended Manila FAME shows to look for ideas, until they read an ad seeking business partners for a hat manufacturing business. They met, discussed, and agreed to pay the goodwill money to partner with the owner whose children were not interested continuing the business.
“We felt it was an easy way to start exporting since everything was already set up. We did not have to start from scratch. In two weeks, everything was fixed. So I guess it was really meant to be. After several years, we bought her out and now it is our family business.” They inherited the factory and its employees, suppliers, as well as existing customers.
“Aside from creativity and strict quality measures, we believe that very good service, commitment and good working relationships with our buyers are very important in order to succeed. In fact, many of our regular buyers have become personal friends too because of the trust we have developed throughout the years.”
The factory is in Quezon City but the company sources its raw materials from different provinces. “We continue to operate despite the challenges of the current pandemic, trying our best to provide livelihood to our employees, our logistics providers, and the communities of raw material suppliers who are working hard in many islands around the Philippines.”