As a native of Besao, Mountain Province, Narda’s founder’s, Narda Capuyan, familiarity with weaving in the region developed through time, most especially when she transitioned from being a family-planning nurse counselling Cordilleran mothers to becoming an entrepreneur. It was her business sense that facilitated weavers in the region, who were mostly mothers coming from rural, mountain communities, to be self-sustainable bearers of culture.
Her efforts also attracted those who were similarly motivated to join her in the task of uplifting the lives of weavers in the Cordillera. Narda Capuyan’s enchantment with ikat thus began when a friend of hers, Ellen Schattschneider, then working as a Peace Corps volunteer, came to teach her the modern process of tying and dyeing. As our founder, Narda Capuyan, came to witness the technique in practice, it became easier for her to understand how ikat in the Cordillera came to be practiced by the Ifugaos.
Knowing how to weave, though not always sitting behind the loom, made Narda Capuyan come to appreciate the difficult and laborious process of loom weaving while also seeing the possibilities of innovating on the methods she currently employed with her people. A combination of the ikat technique and the traditional methods of weaving in the Cordillera and Ilocos Regions then yielded a freshness and vividness to the new textiles that would come to be produced.
Reverence was still afforded to the types of weaves done in the traditional palette, especially as these were regarded to form part of solemn ceremonies. These traditional weaves carried with them the dignity of a people’s identity.
However, the world of ikat allowed Narda’s an opportunity to flex creative muscles, experiment with color and create a line of wearables and home accessories. These proudly Philippine Cordilleran products were valued both by a domestic audience, especially as pasalubong or gifts bestowed by Filipinos upon foreign visitors—and by internationals themselves who considered her products to be chic and fashionable heirloom items to own. As the demand for the products grew along with an increased recognition of uniquely Cordilleran weaves, the brand Narda’s came to have resonance among Filipinos.