In the 19 months since they launched their beauty brand Happy Skin, Jacqe Yuengtian Gutierrez and Rissa Mananquil Trillo have accomplished one thing other fledgling entrepreneurs can only dream about: They’ve been able to set up their dream office—and it looks just as pretty and delightful as their lipsticks and makeup.
Like most start-ups, the young women used to conduct business only from their respective homes and meet with clients in restaurants. With their business having taken off and their distribution quickly expanding, early this year they decided to earmark a budget for an office.
But they didn’t want a typical corporate office in a high-rise—“too stiff,” says Trillo—so they searched instead for a place that’s cozy and “not too formal,” which would reflect the fun personality of their cosmetics brand.
They found a low-rise in a quiet residential neighborhood in Pasig, just off the Ortigas business district, previously occupied by a Christian charismatic group but has been transformed into business offices.
To create their dream space, they zeroed in on an interior design company whose work they’ve admired from a distance: Heim Interiors, led by young designer, Rossy Yabut Rojales, 30, who also heads the home and lifestyle store Heima.
Heim’s portfolio includes the fashion store Bayo at Glorietta, Vanilla Cupcake Bakery at Bonifacio Global City, and three restaurants of Erwan Heussaff.
Its celebrity clientele includes Kris Aquino, Anne Curtis, Solenn Heussaff and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
“Their philosophy is ‘Design Made Happy,’ and that’s how we feel about our company, too, so it made sense,” says Gutierrez, who also hired Heim Interiors to design her house.
There was immediate synergy, Rojales says of her clients, who have also tapped her to design their first freestanding Happy Skin store, set to open before the year ends.
Heim’s design process is so thorough it asks its clients to answer a long questionnaire—“It was like applying for a visa,” Trillo says with a laugh—to determine their likes and dislikes, down to the music they prefer.
Since they run a beauty company, the women wanted a nonconventional office, where they could chill in lounge areas and make their staff happy while working. They wanted it to feel bright, homey and, yes, feminine.
In place of typical work desks are long tables with chairs either customized (by Heima) or bought in stores (like swivel chairs from Dimensione) and upholstered in Happy Skin colors: teal, pink, yellow, with punches of fuchsia. Customized furniture was necessary owing to the limited space, says the designer.
The curtains are all pink, with only sheer white curtains layered with the precut MDF (medium-density fiberboard) panels dividing the rooms. The walls and marble floors are all white.
“The trend now is open-office layout, and they wanted that,” says Rojales. “It’s one rectangular space, and we agreed on the MDF panels to serve as dividers.”
It’s also energy-efficient because when you turn on one aircon unit, the cool air spills into the next room, she adds.
They agreed not to use glass as it was costly and felt too formal. Sound-proofing each work area was also not imperative as only the lean marketing team works here.
The Happy Skin headquarters is two floors—a street-level office and a stockroom on the second floor. The main entrance is painted in teal, the same shade used on the MDF cutout panels.
At the foyer sits a low-slung peach couch with multi-patterned pillows from L’Indochine—an unlikely choice since the store is known for ethnic Asian designs; but in this office the pieces work beautifully with the modern look. Other accent pieces are also from the same store.
Right above the sofa is the company logo, in large 3D gold metal cutouts, a non-negotiable investment, says Gutierrez. On each side are two custom glass cabinets, which Trillo calls their “beauty museum,” where all their products are displayed.
Since this is a rental, Rojales made sure that all the furniture is movable. “I didn’t want them to invest in something they would have to leave later on. Sayang lang,” she says.
Rojales also used pendant lighting in key areas, all sourced locally. The interior designer is strict about sustainability and in supporting local suppliers.
Trillo and Gutierrez’s favorite area is the boudoir, created for them to test their products, and somewhat an extension of their beauty museum.
Photos by Kimberly de la Cruz