Narda’s is a project of Narda Capuyan that started in 1972 in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines weaving blankets from recycled acrylic yarns. Narda, a family planning nurse whose hand-knitting hobby attracted the mothers, encouraged the women to weave to keep them busy from making more babies.
Through series of experimentations, Narda revived the Cordillera Ikat designing and dyeing threads ranging from subtle pastels to vivid earth tones. Ikat is a very old tradition of tying and dyeing segments of threads before actual weaving.
The big break came in 1982 when Bloomingdale’s in New York featured Narda’s products in an all-Philippine sales exhibition. The show popularized Narda’s Ikat and brought her to Japan, Europe and Canada. Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, Marshal Fields in the U.S.A. and Hudson’s Bay in Canada were some of Narda’s initial buyers.
The highly innovative direction that the work has taken garnered for Narda’s in 1982, the GOLDEN SHELL AWARD – the most prestigious award given by the Ministry of Trade for excellence in exports and for reviving a dying indigenous art. Many other awards followed but more significant was the outstanding COUNTRYSIDE INVESTOR AWARD presented to Narda’s by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1989 for providing livelihood to over 600 indigenous women weavers and sewers at that time. Her story was likewise used by the Development Bank of the Philippines in their T.V. ad to encourage entrepreneurship. The AGORA AWARD for Export Marketing followed for her uncomplicated network open for the indigenous entrepreneur. In 1999 Narda Capuyan was selected as one of the 100 Women of the Philippines who have excelled in their work and contributed to national development.
Decades of Ikat ventures has produced a body of work now seen in a number of five-star hotels both here and abroad, and carried by boutiques and specialty shops worldwide.
Narda’s Eco-Fiber Wall Hangings, were exhibited for three months in 2006 at the World Eco Fiber and Textile (W.E.F.T) Exhibition at the Petronas Towers Galeri in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Narda’s handwoven fabrics were featured at New York’s Couture Fashion Week held at Waldorf Astoria Hotel and at the World Eco-Fiber & Textile (W.E.F.T.) Exhibit Fashion Show, “From Waste to Wealth” – Narda’s Magic of Woven Waste Leather in Ikat held at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia in September 2012.
Leonarda O. Capuyan was named the Philippines Ernst & Young Small Business Entrepreneur of The Year in October 2013 under the auspices of EY Global and SGV Foundation. It is the World’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.
Narda’s relocated its workshop in July 2014 to Winaca Eco-Cultural Village in Acop Tublay, Benguet, 25 minutes away from Baguio City where Narda’s mainstore is located. This is a 33-hectare eco-tourism destination developed by her husband Wilson. Thirty years ago, he felt that Narda’s should go back to its natural setting, the village, reminiscent of the remote village of Besao and Sagada in Mountain Province where they were born and raised. He terraced the land and planted indigenous trees including bamboo and rattan. It has now become a forest with original thatched roofed Cordillera houses brought in and built by the tribes themselves. Their desire to showcase their indigenous Cordillera culture respecting the sacredness of nature is now in place. Igorot weaving is now back to its original setting.
Winaca is a Cordillera word that means “bound by vine” from the root word, waca or waka or vine. It also happens to bind the first syllables of Wilson and Narda Capuyan.