When you double-tap a post on Instagram, do you wonder if the person is just as intriguing as their photos? Are these people only interesting online, or do they do fascinating stuff IRL and happen to have a camera ready or an Instagram boyfriend/husband.
Maggie Wilson-Consunji falls into the second category. No, it’s not just because she’s a beauty queen, a former VJ, and a TV personality. Forget the fact that she’s the wife of developer Victor Consunji, and as she’s an interior designer, it’s a match made in penthouse heaven.
Maggie is the type of woman who is a dream to interview. She doesn’t just answer the question in a word. She packs in her stories and her insights. On trying to figure out her spy name (a silly question I made up to combine her first pet’s name with the name of the first street she lived on), I dug up her back story a bit more. “So here’s the thing, I don’t remember the name of the first street we lived on. I don’t think even my parents would remember. We lived in an apartment in Saudi Arabia. My first pet is Junior, so there’s that.”
She tells me how her life travelling educates her taste in creating beautiful homes. “It’s why I like to redecorate. It’s because as a child, every two to three years, my view would change. I spent 14 years in Saudi Arabia. When we were living there, we moved houses a lot because of my dad’s job. I even lived in Bacolod for nine months in my fourth and fifth grade because my mother wanted us to learn how to speak Illongo. Around 2004, I moved to Manila.”
What’s your routine like?
As it is right now, I wake up around 6:30 to 7 a.m. I’ll go through my emails and do some morning work from home. And then, I check on my son Connor to make sure he’s on his Zoom online classes.
After lunch, I head over to my store ACASA Manila and catch up with my team on my current projects. If I have any errands, I do that as well in the afternoon. We close at 4 p.m. because of the pandemic, so normally I’m home by 4:30 or 5 p.m. I take some downtime before dinner at 6:30 p.m. Maybe I squeeze in a workout before dinner, but that doesn’t happen every day. And then after dinner, it’s Netflix and chill.
You don’t meditate first or have some time to yourself in the morning?
I don’t meditate. I consider myself quite high-strung. So when I wake up, I’m on my computer or my phone, checking on my messages and emails immediately.
What’s your workout regimen?
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to workouts. I use free weights or do bodyweight training. I’m not into any of those fad workouts. The one thing I do is intermittent fasting, so I don’t have breakfast. I do that religiously.
Which series are you hooked on?
Recently, I just finished The Queen’s Gambit. My husband and I finished the whole show in one evening.
I also love Dream Home Makeover. I watched the show in one sitting, watching it again with my sister because I told her to watch it. It’s very in line with my work and what I do. Home improvement shows, interior design shows, and architectural shows are all very exciting for me.
Any movies you watch often?
I love to watch the ’80s and ’90s action movies. I know that sounds really weird. Action movies back in the day, I feel like they are better than what we have now. Now everything is so overdone and unrealistic. My sister and I grew up watching all these action movies with my dad. When I can’t find something to watch, I’ll literally hunt for an older action or thriller-suspense movie.
You’re not into sweatpants.
No. For my daily outfit, I love oversized t-shirts. If I’m not wearing that, I’m in a white polo. I love my shorts. It could be anything: biker, denim, tailored shorts.
I always have on my favorite sneakers from Golden Goose. I have two pairs, and I switch them up. I haven’t worn heels since the lockdown!
Do you miss wearing heels?
I kind of miss it. I miss dressing up. I’ll throw on a pair of block heels now and again to switch it up.
Current fashion obsession?
Over the lockdown, I discovered this Australian brand Posse. I love their clothes because they’re all made of linen, which is perfect for our weather. I started this whole linen obsession last year, and I’m still on it. I love how it feels on my skin; I love how light and airy it is. I went a little crazy and shopped—not their entire catalog but something close to it.
One thing people assume incorrectly about you?
Do you know what’s funny? I got an Instagram DM from one of my followers recently. She said that she used to think I was so sosyal and uptight. But when she watched my YouTube channel, she realized that I wasn’t.
People assume na hindi ako marunong mag-Tagalog pero I’m super bakla with my friends.
I’ll be honest. I also assumed you didn’t speak in Tagalog.
When I launched my YouTube channel, people got to see more of me. I think that’s when people started to see that “Oh, she’s not snooty or uptight.”
A lot of beauty queens I’m close to experience also the same thing. When they see you all glammed up, they expect you to speak and behave a certain way. When it’s just us, my friends and the cameras are off, and nobody is watching, babaeng bakla lang kaming lahat.
People look at things with rose-tinted glasses, and they have this preconceived notion of who we are because of social media. It’s all just little fragments of our lives. It’s real, but it’s not the entire picture.
Life on YouTube
How did you start ACASA Living by Maggie Wilson on YouTube?
Patrick Martin of Lit Lab Studios is one of my good friends. He told me that I should start a YouTube channel because you can’t really see my personality from my photos on Instagram. Last year, I traveled so much that I didn’t have the time to start a channel. So when the pandemic happened, he called me, and he said that now is the time to do it. “Do it now!”
He trapped you?
He did! And I am so thankful that he did because [the channel] has taken a life of its own. He offered to shoot the first three episodes. But then he only did it because he made me promise: “Babe, seseryoshohin mo ito.”
This isn’t new territory being a former VJ and on TV. What’s unique about this for you?
When I first intended to start YoutTube, I went to the Google office here in the Philippines early this year. I met with YouTube experts to gain a little bit of insight on how to do my channel. There’s a lot of research. It’s very technical and boring, but I enjoy that sort of stuff. You learn very quickly what your viewers want to watch, so we tweak our episodes to our market.
What do your viewers love?
They love watching transformations. On my channel, there are two playlists. One is Design Tips, and the other one is Design Story. Design Story is where we feature a person and the place that they want to transform. My viewers love it when there’s another person involved. They like how I take that person’s story and translate that into their rooms. The video I put out with Mimiyuuuh hit one million views.
Maggie, the interior designer
Home has taken on a very different definition for everyone these days.
People see more value in their homes. Some people will spend more on a pair of shoes or a designer bag than on quality furniture. Now, people see the value of spending on what you have at home.
Tell me about your design approach.
In terms of style, it’s relaxed and cozy but modern. I like tropical modern and tropical art deco, my favorite eras in design. My philosophy is bringing the outside in, especially now everyone is turning into a plantito and plantita, and we can’t really travel. My style is to make your space your own sanctuary, whatever that may be. I want people’s homes to feel like their own private vacation.
Who are your interior design favorites?
I am obsessed with Kelly Wearstler. Her style is quite different from mine, but what I love about her is how she mixes textures, colors, prints, patterns, and eras. I also like Shea and Syd McGee. I love how they sold everything they had to start their business; I love how they work together.
Speaking of husbands and wives in business, how’s your work dynamic with Victor?
Our companies are different. He has a development firm, and I have my furniture and design studio separate from his.
We haven’t had many conflicts aside from deliverables. Once, he was building a series of model units, and he only gave me two days to decorate four entire houses. We managed to do it, but so it was so stressful for my team and me. That was the one time we disagreed. He’s learned from that, and it’s never happened again.
What projects are you currently working on?
This year is quite interesting because we are launching developments under the ACASA brand. He’s going to the developer, and I will be the interior designer.
I think he and I work well together because we have similar styles. It’s a nice flow. In the next three years, we will launch new locations. We launched our first one, called Southern Plains, this year.
Never say never
You were the first Filipina to complete the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Any adventures to follow?
So far, there are no plans just yet. It’s quite hard to top an experience like that. When I did it, I didn’t tell anybody about it because I was scared that I won’t be able to finish. I decided to do it the night before the race, and eight hours later, I crossed the finish line.
I’m a “Never say never” type of person. I’m thinking about going skydiving, maybe even getting a solo license to skydive. This year, I was supposed to go free diving with blue whales so I’ll do it next year. I always say you only live once and you’re only young once, so invest in experiences because when you’re old and gray, you can no longer do all these things. I don’t want to look back and regret not doing them.
Do you remember your Binibining Pilipinas World question? Would you still answer it the same way today?
I would still answer the same. My question was, “What is the one thing you can’t live without, and why?” My answer was my family because people come and go, but your family will always be there for you at the end of the day no matter what. I gave that answer in March 2017, that’s 13—almost 14 years ago. I will stick to that answer even to this day.
If you could live on one beach for the rest of your life, where would that be?
Gosh. That’s such a hard question. I would say Staniel Cay in the Bahamas. I spent my 30th birthday there last year and went there first the year before. I fell in love with it. The sea is so alive, and the shore is so well-kept, it’s so clean, there’s so much to do and see.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve done?
People think I’m absolutely nuts for scuba diving with tiger sharks and bull sharks, cage-free. Of course, running the Antarctic Ice Marathon is pretty up there in terms of daring.
I’ve always been very adventurous. My parents raised my sister and me to be quite fearless kids. We lived in a coastal town, so every weekend, we would be at the beach if not in the desert hiking. More is more in terms of experience. I want to be able to say: “I did that, I tried that, I ate that.”
I don’t like to live in fear; I like to feel the fear and do it anyway.
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