Yesterday, my dear designer, Joi Cutter came by with a chef I highly respect and whose food I crave a lot— Chef Jackie Tan of Duck and Buvette. I love her Romaine Salad with creamy garlic dressing and her Salted Caramel Ice Cream and everything in between. Over their lunch at the shop, I just appreciated being sandwiched by two inspiring women who are gifted and who love their craft— Joi in decorating and Jackie in cooking.
Joi and I had many wonderful adventures running around practically every hardware store in the city, sometimes even literally jumping up and down and giggling at some random aisle over our Eureka moments to quickly evolving challenges the construction presented.
After I met Malou Perez by chance at Lori Baltazar’s Dessert Comes First book (to which by God’s grace she made me a contributor), Malou’s partner Alix Angliongto was the one who responded to me by email on potential display stands they could prettify for my products.
It was Alix who didn’t tire of ecouraging me to improve my Petron shop. She even gave me for Christmas a beautifully bowed huge present which turned out to be design boards.
Such irresistibly attractive ideas but at that time, not having yet settled my issues with God about my business removed from my hand (in Cebuano, “hatag-bawi diay”) not understanding that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away for His good purposes, I was unfortunately sort of just waiting for my business to die a natural death.
But Alix did not give up. Every time we saw each other she still pitched the idea to improve my store until she said the words “vintage kitchen.”
That turned me on, got the Detroit Jewel oven and was ready to embark on a comeback after I dropped off my kids to university. But by the time I returned, Alix and Malou were occupied so Alix introduced me to her designer sister, Joi… who happened to be contemplating moving back to Manila to move her design business here after herself empty nesting.
Joi and I had our own stock of ideas that we put forth and our synergy was terrific, productive yet very en-Joi-able.
She patiently listened to what I had in mind and was very sisterly in sometimes giving in to things I really, really wanted. With a loving smile, a twinkle in her eyes and encouraging words, she would give her approval…. to the sewing machines, to benches she felt were too many, to upholstery combinations, and different things I already bought heeheeeheee. She had pitched in many an image for the function room garden mural and nudged me to buy the Bears we saw on one of our many shopping errands but because I did not yet have the peace that it was Just The One, she patiently waited. For weeksssssss. Looking back it must have been frustrating on her end but she was still all smiles.
She came up entirely on her own about the teacup chandeliers which to this day are a hit!
It was easy to trust her with my Royal Albert teacup stash that had been in my drawer for years knowing she would put holes in them and I would never be able to drink tea in them again. She didn’t break a single cup.
One day, I came late to the Kapitolyo construction site one day and didn’t get to say yet again for the second twice where the demarcation would be for the revised restroom wall. I didn’t want the hollow blocks torn down to correct the position of the wall so as not to waste time and materials.
Alas, our grand gorgeous plan for a loveleh loveleh loo needed a new one. Almost in tears, I told her, “Design Diva, you need to put on your thinking cap and let your genius creativity gestate a new plan.” She came back to me with the word “Outhouse.” And I reverted with a resounding eye-popping, springboard-jumping “YES!” And so one of the most popular, most photographed nooks in the shop was born.
Joi put order to the unleashed call to creativity and everything just came out Instagrammably pretty.
Before, during, and after construction, what a God-given blessing and Joi (!) to have the designer I have. What I love about her aside from her natural genius to come up with creative ideas and a solid framework to set our parameters to align everything to the theme is her dedication, commitment, and great uplifting attitude. She didn’t mind installing the nails herself when she needed to… even if she had to select a hefty stone somewhere in the rubble in the absence of a traditional hammer. She put time and thought into her suggestions, was willing to walk in step with me until the mere thoughts got translated into palpable material. She didn’t just thrust expensive pieces to me but was mindful that I was working within a budget. Yet, we didn’t sacrifice quality.
When you see her, she can be all glam but she didn’t mind all of the long day after long day we spent of grungy work amongst the dust mountains and makeshift pyramids of construction materials. I love that she’s a perfect diva without the diva attitude!:)
We blended right in with hardware people hauling our stuff and hanging on to the oversized materials with their hanging plastic bags on their ends that stuck out from the vans. I suffered withdrawal symptoms when those days were over.
Thank You, Lord for Joi and the women you placed alongside me for the journey. May You bless all the work of their hands and prosper them according to Your glorious riches in Jesus’s name amen.