It’s always admirable when a young retail brand is dedicated to paying it forward to society. Kada is primarily inspired by Pinoy-themed T-shirts, but the ground rules for its business are anchored on charitable endeavors, specifically to provide education to children.
Its battle cry is, “For every 20 shirts sold, Kada will send one kid to school.” It has partnered with Cartwheel Foundation, a group that provides education to indigenous tribes, to achieve its vision.
‘“Wear it Forward’ is not CSR (corporate social responsibility),” explains Raymund Villanueva, 28, Kada’s chief giving officer. A BS Management Engineering graduate from Ateneo de Manila, with an MBA from the University of San Francisco, Villanueva spearheaded the company’s overall direction.
“‘Wear it Forward’ is the heart and soul of Kada,” he says.
Aside from Raymund, Kada is composed of his younger brother Anton Villanueva and friend Armand Sazon, both graduates of Ateneo. The group was joined by Mesh Villanueva, who handles sales and marketing, and Rj Severino, Kada’s creative director. These young entrepreneurs believe that no matter how small, every charitable action can make a massive difference.
“We actually talk about our sales goals not in peso amount, but in terms of how many kids we are targeting to send to school,” Raymund states.
The team started their business in response to the growing need of basic literacy and primary education not available to everyone, particularly the Umayamnons, who live in Bukidnon province, northern Mindanao.
The Villanueva brothers and Sazon journeyed to Bukidnon in October 2010. Their immersion among the Umayamnons is what prompted them to heed the call to social responsibility and action, and through Kada, they are able to encourage others to give back.
“We hope this venture becomes a springboard to inspire both consumers and businesses to adapt the initiative in the future,” says Raymund.
Still adhering to Pinoy pride, Kada uniquely offers the iconic Camisa de Chino with its “Camisa” line, but redesigned and updated to attract the young market.
The shirts are made of 100-percent premium modal, a conscious choice for the team because of the textile’s breathability and resistance to shrinkage. It has a smoother and softer feel, even softer than pure cotton.
It wasn’t easy for the team to source the exact fabric they wanted; it took them a year before they were happy with the sample shirts. “We all had high standards and we did not take shortcuts,” Raymund explains the daunting process.
In terms of design, they wanted something the whole team would be proud to wear. They incorporated red buttons, which symbolize their passion for their cause. “Putting a single one on each shirt reinforces the concept that each shirt contributes to a unified dream,” he says.
The shirts are perfect for everyday wear and quite fab to layer on. Soon, Kada will be developing its sleeveless shirt lines for Summer 2012 and its “Pantalones” line for both men and women, inspired by the ankle-length pantaloons of the 1800s.
“What we really hope to achieve in the end is a following of the ‘Wear It Forward’ campaign, through a great product with a good cause that we believe in,” says Raymund. Just when we thought shirts couldn’t get any cooler, they just did.