MANILA, Philippines - One of the frustrating things in visiting a large furniture exhibition in Manila is when, upon gazing upon a piece that you would like to buy and inquire about its price, you would be informed by the booth attendee that the items are "for export only." If you have any luck in finding the same piece that is actually for sale, you may have to look for it in an upscale furniture store supplied by, gasp!, a local furniture manufacturer who would want nothing to do with the local market.
Eric Alvin Go Po is familiar with the frustration of local consumers seeking to adorn their spaces with high-quality furniture pieces from Cebu. As a former associate sales executive of Rockwell Land, he saw how homeowners would rather opt for the pricier "Italian" counterparts than say, endure the inconvenience of flying to a Cebu furniture showroom, perusing through old designs (the current, fashionable ones are exported to Western markets), and waiting for months on end for their selected pieces to arrive. He decided to reverse the tide.
Together with his business partners Eric Mendoza, Vincent Sandoval and Yohann Estaniel, Eric founded Home Mavericks in 2007-a furniture shop, as its name suggests, that seeks to bring the best and trendiest Cebu furniture pieces to Manila that are a fraction of the cost of the imported ones (whose origin of their circuitous route around the world may be traced in Cebu). "I want to bring Cebu furniture to the local market so they can be appreciated," Eric says.
Located along Arnaiz Ave. and across New World Hotel, Home Mavericks is a 200-square meter emporium of Cebu furniture hand-crafted with sumptuous materials (mother of pearl, capiz, rattan, synthetic fibers, and all sorts of wood) and arranged into tableaus to evoke an upscale lifestyle. It is also an official dealer of HunterDouglas shades, blinds and other window treatments.
A homegrown Cebuano, Eric traced his passion for furniture when he was a kid. "I always wanted to have something beautiful in my room," he says. This passion was fanned by the spirit of entrepreneurship impressed upon him at a young age. A couple of years after graduation, he broached the idea of a furniture shop carrying solely Cebu pieces in Manila to his college friends. They took the risk and as such, were true mavericks from the start: except for Eric Mendoza, all of them are still in their late 20s.
Home Mavericks' present location is actually its third. It began as a 40 square meter shop "where only two beds can fit in." The climb, as expected, was uphill and there was a point when the partners wanted to give up. The partners' derring-do attitude and the goal to be big (without ever asking their parents for capital) spurred the company forward. Now, Home Mavericks, aside from selling furniture and HunterDouglas products, also offers interior design and customization services.
Part of the reason why they have also ventured into this business is to educate and introduce the local market with au currant design. "The designs that we have now were five six years ago in the States, Europe," Eric says. "It's really sad that the Philippine market is a bit behind. What I want is to set a trend, to be at a level with US, Europe and the Middle East."
Some of the trendy pieces that they have are the outdoor woven furniture that reveal a bold pop of color such as purple and orange; lamps and stools fringed with colorful synthetic fibers; planters and lamps fashioned from a single piece of red wire.
As part of its commitment to environment, Home Mavericks makes use of sustainable and recyclable materials. A wall accent, for example, is made from fallen twigs and branches which were crushed and glued together with a water-based adhesive.
Though Eric is aware that they still have a long way to go, he clearly feels that the furniture shop is in the right path. "Whenever we finish a project, whenever we deliver our stuff to the client, whenever we see beauty in the room,. We gain a sense of satisfaction," he says.
Home Mavericks is located at G/F 926 Arnaiz Ave. (formerly Pasay Road), Makati City 1223 (across New World Hotel). Call 844-9549 or visit www.homemavericks.com for more details.