Making money out of art and buttons

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva April 02,2017 - 10:53 PM

Artist Jose Arjune Orbiso quit his job as a manager of a meat processing company to focus on his export business.

Artist Jose Arjune Orbiso quit his job as a manager of a meat processing company to focus on his export business.

An artist and his team of 8 get slice of European market, plan to go local as well

All his life, 41-year-old Jose Arjune Orbiso has loved art.

He finds satisfaction in drawing and photography, taking inspiration for his works from exploring the outdoors, which he also loves doing.

In the last 10 years, he has been flying around the Philippines, taking pictures of scenic tourism spots and the fanfare of local festivals, among others.

Just recently, he and his friends have been going to remote places to capture the life of tribal communities in photographs.

For the past decade as well, Orbiso has been running a business that satisfies his passion for art as well as his desire to help his family and community.

Orbiso, president of the Mandaue City-based IDA Trends and Accessories Exports, Inc., has been designing and producing buttons shipped off to Germany since 2006.

How it started

It all began when, in 2004, Orbiso was introduced by his cousin to a German businesswoman looking for suppliers of buttons from the Philippines.

“The offer was made to my cousin, Lalaine, but she didn’t want to get involved at first because she wasn’t into fashion. She said yes on the condition that I would be a part of it too,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Orbiso said what got him into the business was aside from getting a salary and shares in the company, he would also get to practice his skills in drawing through the creation of button designs.

A business administration degree-holder, Orbiso had been working as a manager at a meat processing company before he took the German’s offer.

He was earning well and could support his family, but he felt like something was holding him back.
“Since I really like fashion and art, I resigned from my job,” said Orbiso.

Customized buttons

Customized buttons

P500K capital

The German investor, 66-year-old Ute Holk, spent at least P500,000 to get the business running.

IDA was formed in 2004, but only started production in 2006 after securing all the suppliers. It was then incorporated in 2008.

The exporter started out in a one-room apartment in Barangay Basak in Mandaue City and moved to Barangay Cabancalan in the same city three years later.

In 2013, the company ventured into manufacturing fashion accessories and home décor as well.

German market

IDA currently employs eight production staff, all of whom have regular status and enjoy social service benefits.

Their products are sent to Germany where these are marketed to clients from all over the world.

Orbiso said what is good about having an exclusive buyer is that the operations of a company is safe, noting that all orders will really come from the exporter.

“The problem is that if the exclusive buyer doesn’t market our products to other buyers, we also don’t have production,” he explained.

Making his designs can take meticulous work since most of IDA’s items are customized, targeting an international market composed of high-end fashion brands from Europe, the United States, and Australia.

He uses materials such as resin, wood, metal, horns, shells, and recycled items including bottle caps, among others.

Orbiso said he makes sure their items have a matte finish, preserving the authentic look of the materials used.

Customized earrings made from carabao horns are among the export products of the company artist Jose Arjune Orbiso leads.

Customized earrings made from carabao horns are among the export products of the company artist Jose Arjune Orbiso leads.

Button prices, sales

Prices of buttons range from P30 to P100 each, depending on size and material used; necklaces at P800 to P2,000; while earrings are priced at P400 to P600, still depending on size and materials used.

The company only earned P300,000 to P400,000 during its first year and then grew two-fold the following year.

Orbiso said they get a spike in the number of orders during December and September, in time for fashion shows in Paris, as well as May, for the fashion events in Hongkong.

In 2015, IDA’s sales were valued at P3 million but declined to only around P1 million in 2016 due to the weak global demand.

“All of us exporters here were affected by the performance of the global market. Many companies closed down. I knew some of them, many of whom were my friends. Even the biggest ones wrapped up,” said Orbiso.

Local players also faced stiff competition from countries such as China, which can mass produce the same items homegrown brands create.

But Orbiso said local products still have the edge, owing to its quality and deliveries being on time.

He said he hopes exports will pick up in the second or third quarter this year.

But in the meantime, IDA has set out to conquer the domestic market, targeting local fashion enthusiasts and even national designers.


Orbiso said he hopes to launch in June a local brand under IDA called “Boton,” which will still feature the same custom-made items.

He said the designs will be limited so customers will be assured that the items they buy will not have any duplicate.

“In one to two years, we hope to become the first name in mind for fashion designers known in Cebu or in the whole country that are looking for accessories for their clothes,” he said.

In January, IDA started supplying buttons to local clothing store A.T.E. by Tatah.

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