It’s 4am and the foyer of the local call centre here in Dumaguete is alive with activity. It’s the Pay Day Bazaar, a twice monthly event where local businesses come and sell their products to the employees of the call centre.
Spirited Clothes has a table selling our local Filipino products that we have made in our sewing centre in Cebu. On our rack is hanging shorts, pyjamas, pants, tops and a range of scarves, sarongs and jewellery which have all been made and designed for the local Filipino market at local prices.
There are many call centres here in the Philippines as many Western countries relocate their centres here due to a highly educated and English speaking workforce and the lure of cheaper labour costs, due to the low cost of living here. Call centres are well paid jobs here in the Philippines and an attractive option for many young people graduating high school or university. The call centre here in Dumaguete is one of the largest employers in the city and jobs are always available for those who can speak English
Part of our vision for Spirited Clothes is not only to have a sewing centre for international clothing but also to reach the local market. Along with making pants, dresses and tops for our website, we have also been developing our local market. We have made shorts, pyjamas and tops in local material and local sizes that we sell here to expand the local market and also enable us to create more jobs in the future. The Filipinos love our products and material so we are excited to develop things further.
At our table in the call centre we share the vision of what we are doing. I’m the only foreigner in the foyer so people often wonder what I’m doing there as I’m sat at the table selling, so it’s a good talking point. Thankfully their English is good – it has to be if they work at the call centre – so I can have conversations with them easily, as my knowledge of the local language is still limited.
Some thank us for what we are doing to help Filipino people, some complain the prices are too high, some try to bargain the prices down to a ridiculous level where we would lose money if we said yes. Some come back each time to buy more shorts or more jewellery. Some tell their friends, some come and look then walk away. It’s always a great experience and I enjoy the company of the other sales people. Our vision is to help many more Filipino’s come out of poverty so we hope that through sales at the call centres and other places here in the Philippines we can start to see expansion. It’s a slow process but exciting to see it start to unfold.