Marielle de Leon Lazaro refers to her style as “mommy”—highlighting how she prioritizes comfort and convenience above all. Most working women probably fall under the same category even if they aren’t necessarily moms.
Lazaro, a co-founder of Tali Handmade, is often called a social entrepreneur. Along with her partner Liza Crespo, she employs female inmates of a local city jail to produce the brand’s line of local accessories. The brand’s goal is to empower women at a grassroots level.
That same no-nonsense approach (her company was hinged on merging sustainability and design) also applies to her skincare regimen.
“I like to keep it simple,” she says. Her vanity kit is low-key, and her method of discovery unusual. Instead of seeking out advice from beauty sites or magazines, she went a different route: “I just literally would go to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacists.”
How would you define your style?
Mommy style—very simple, classic with clean lines. I like to move around in what I wear and something I can take from day to night if needed. Having four kids and working in manufacturing, my style has to be utilitarian enough.
What would we find on your bathroom shelf?
Current favorites include A313 Vitamin A tube, No. 7 Microdermabrasion exfoliator, O.Live shampoo and the conditioner counterpart, La Roche Posay Hydraphase Eye Gel.
How’d you discover them?
I went into the pharmacy and asked the pharmacists. More often than not, they really know what you should try, and it works!
Do you follow any beauty sites or a makeup artist to get tips?
I seldom wear makeup. I’m more of a concealer, blush and curler type of person and I’m good to go. My daughter knows more about makeup than me.
You have naturally beautiful skin. What’s your secret?
I like to keep it simple. It’s just wash, exfoliate and I apply A313 and eye gel at night. I’d say I’m low-maintenance when it comes to skincare and have not been the most religious up until recently.
What skincare or treatments do you invest in?
I get a facial maybe once or twice a year, and then have diamond peels quarterly.
Are there beauty traditions you learned from your mom that you still follow today?
Yes! I remember she would put olive oil or coconut oil on her hair—I still do the same when I feel my hair drying out.
I read about applying olive oil on the hair from Seventeen magazine in the mid-’90s. I tried it and it was kind of greasy.
How does it work for you?
I find that if you wash it twice after application, it takes away the oiliness.
You’re a busy mom and entrepreneur. How do you get dressed for the day? What are the elements of a daily outfit?
Dressing up is done in a rush, unless there’s an event at night that I have to attend. Then I’d take more time, as it has to be something I can wear at night and would still work just by changing flats to heels. I used to buy clothes based on what the trend was, but as I got older, I realized my basic nonnegotiables would always be fit, color and fabric. For daily wear, fit is most important—it can conceal a few pounds and always makes one look put-together.
Do you believe in uniform dressing?
Yes! Because it makes life less complicated. I tend to lean toward crisp white long sleeves, which can be worn with practically anything as well as be taken from day to night.
If we were to go through your closet, what would we encounter?
Crisp white shirts, dark-colored jeans, long-sleeve tops in different colors and fabrics.
What are your top five go-to clothing labels?
For fast fashion, it’s Zara and Mango. Lately I’ve been enjoying local designers/brands—those made by indigenous tribes, but made relevant and modernized and can be worn every day. It makes for a great conversation piece—brands like Kaayo, Filip+Inna and Zarah Juan.
How did you form your label Tali Handmade?
Having been in manufacturing, I was at a point where I was looking for some meaning in the everyday hustle. I’ve always been a restless soul, too, trying to see what else can be done. It came up in a conversation and I said yes to it. It was therapy for me, something to do that would directly impact the lives of the hands that make it.
What does the brand stand for?
At its core, Tali Handmade wants to empower women.
How would you define its aesthetic?
Bold, colorful but a bit structured. We have been dabbling in using raw leather—edges that are not perfect or super finished. I personally like it to look as handmade as possible, that’s why no two pieces are really alike.
You have been developing a lot of cool, new stuff lately: new purses, new shoes. What are your favorites?
I guess you can say that this collection is my favorite. We have also added more of the handmade touches in this collection—hand-braiding of leather, hand-stitching of leather strips, etc. It is more labor-intensive, but we are happy and honored to be working alongside leather artisans who also want to bring back the heyday of leather manufacturing in the Philippines. They are just so passionate about it that we now seldom hear them say it can’t be done.
As a purveyor of a local label, do you seek out other local labels?
I love local labels! I think we are having the best of them at this point, with many young designers trying to incorporate local artisanal touches to their designs. I also honestly love the idea of slow fashion—items that take time to do, with stories woven into them as they are made.
32 movers and shakers in popular Filipino culture the past 32 years