In 2006, a 21-year-old Filipino-Spanish blogger moved to Boracay. The island life, crystalline waters and slower pace was a lure for Dane Gonzalez, who wrote about her exploits on her site trustmeitsparadise.com.
“Over the last 12 years, I have returned again and again to live there whenever possible,” she says. “I feel most myself when I am close to the sea.”
She explains: “I grew up in Europe, Germany and Spain. When I moved back to the Philippines, I was restless in any other place but not in Boracay. It’s the only place in the Philippines where I can see myself living—for now.”
She splits her time between Boracay and another beach destination, Bali.
The secret to living an inspired life, she says, is in the pace: “It’s slower, so I have more time to think and stay in an inspired state. Living in Manila makes you feel like you have to keep up with the rat race. I still work in Boracay, I work all the time, but my level of stress is just much lower and more balanced.”
She and business partner Kindra Calonia developed Tala, a brand about slow living— something that represented their own lifestyle.
“Tala, which we both created, was born out of the need and des ire to steer away from mass-produced fashion brands, and our dream of creating a designed-by-women brand with sustainable, mindful and handmade products,” says Gonzalez.
Their business process reflects their nomadic habits. “We work with small factories and producers around Southeast Asia, depending on where the road has taken us,” Gonzalez says.
The focus is on working with authentic partners that are in line with their vision.
A beach girl who knows how to put together a winter look as well as a bikini ensemble, Gonzalez has found a way to live with less—but with a wardrobe and beauty regimen that remains effective and impactful.
As a beach girl, what are your beauty essentials?
I keep it simple because my skin is crazy sensitive: Avène Eau Thermale, Glossier Boy Brow, Nuxe Tinted Lip Balm, The Ordinary Buffet Peptide Serum, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, Lace & Rue The Good Balm.
I try not to bake in the sun anymore, and I moisturize like my life depends on it. I try to stay hydrated and eat healthy whenever possible. Then I moisturize some more and make sure my skin is always clean and hydrated before sleep and when I start my day.
Did your beauty essentials change when you were Manila-based?
Totally. You don’t need to wear much makeup in Boracay. I don’t even own foundation. My skin is much clearer because I don’t deal with the pollution that my skin is exposed to in the city. So, my routine is really just about moisturizing and the occasional coat of waterproof mascara and tinted lip balms.
You created Tala as a response to fast fashion. Do you still wear fast fashion?
My goal is to quit fast fashion completely, and I’m much closer to that goal now after starting Tala. It’s a process, and it feels good to be able to look at the items in my closet, knowing they were sourced from fair trade brands and/or are vintage.
How do you counter a culture that’s invested in making clothing disposable?
It’s tough, because the fast fashion marketing game is strong. What we did at Tala was create clothes that can compete with fast-fashion brands in terms of pricing. Besides awareness and encouraging our clients to support small local brands, we realized early on that affordability will play a huge role in our clients’ choices. We want them to choose better, but we have to stay within reach for that to happen.
How does Tala represent slow, sustainable fashion?
All our garments are produced in small factories that pay fair wages. This is really important to us—we are never going to be a brand that is going to mass-produce in China or Bangladesh. We wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. It’s a lot of work to maintain, but it’s worth the hassle.
What’s the aesthetic of the brand?
Tala was created as an answer to women like us who want to look good and feel good, but invest in pieces that will still be stylish in 10 years. As a result, we ended up with an aesthetic that is a bit of an ode to our favorite basic staples, with a twist. The pieces could have been worn in the ’70s, but also in 2018.
What’s your design process?
We have a really harmonious design process that usually drags out for quite a while. We want to make sure our pieces are an accurate representation of our vision. There might be a design or color that we are dying to use, and then everything else just comes together around it—it’s a very organic and collaborative process.
Do you put an emphasis on local materials?
While we are very proud of our Filipino heritage, the goal isn’t really to create something that’s 100-percent Filipino. We are both mixed, so we take cues from our cultural learnings and roots, without forcing our ideas into a box. The goal of Tala is to eventually represent our own diversity, in a sustainable and organic way.
Slow fashion is antitrend, since trends emphasize the ephemeral nature of fashion. How does this factor in your design?
As mentioned, we design with intention and steer away from anything trendy. Eventually, we’d like Tala to be a classic brand that you can pass on as vintage in a decade or two.
What does your Boracay closet look like?
My closet is littered with many bikinis, and lots of lounge-y pants and jumpsuits. I clear it out every season, because I find that I like specific silhouettes on myself, and I pretty much stick to that. Everything in my closet is either monochromatic or floral and feminine.
Has living by the beach taught you to live with less?
Absolutely. Living with less and staying close to nature gives you much more that money can’t buy. It reminds you to stay grounded, and to keep things simple.
What does that “less” look like now?
I try to declutter my life regularly in order to allow a more productive work/life flow. It’s when I am able to channel my creativity the best, which increases my productivity, which in turn buys me the freedom to just live my life. It’s all about balance, and priority.
What advice would you give someone who’s obsessed with trends but is interested in a more sustainable lifestyle?
You have to take the time to educate yourself about what a sustainable lifestyle is, and then look at your life and outline the areas where you can make a greater effort in order to achieve that. It becomes overwhelming otherwise. Take it easy on yourself and just start. Ask questions about everything you consume, what you can do to consume more responsibly. Just starting and making that decision is already winning half the battle. Awareness and commitment is everything.
It’s really nice to see how the Philippines is trying to contribute to raising awareness by encouraging less plastic use and more recyclable habits. There are many local brands that produce steel straws and reusable containers, for example. It is getting easier and easier to give back to the environment.
Where do you see the brand heading in the next five years?
Ah, sky’s the limit. We are a very inspired duo and we spur each other on. But I think what is important to us is to stay true to our values and our message. We want to stay relatable and down to earth, and to communicate with our audience. At the end of the day, we aren’t in it to reinvent the wheel, but we would love to play a role in introducing sustainable fashion to the world, and the idea that supporting local versus corporate can make a huge difference in rehabilitating an overly industrialized world. Wouldn’t that be something?
Where can people find Tala?
At www.talathelabel.com and our instagram @talathelabel.