Patricia Mancao-Canton: The Giftmaker

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Cheeky Chic Cebu’s Patricia Mancao-Canton talks about elevating everyday gifts with passion and personalization.

There are two types of people during Christmastime: one who enjoys shopping for gifts and one who doesn’t. Not saying the latter is a Grinch, but gift-giving does require time (crowded shops), effort (queueing in said shops), and thinking (that is, what should you get anyway?).

Take it from Santa — it helps to have a list. What to give your boss. Your friend who “has everything”. And then there’s the giftmaker, one who creates gifts day in, day out, holiday season or not. What do you put on the list for her?

The giftmaker

“I’m so practical,” revealed Patricia Mancao-Canton, the founder and creative mind behind Cebu-based gift shop Cheeky Chic. “People give me flowers and I love it, but I would rather get plants instead,” she said, or anything useful like the oven her mom gave her for her birthday, or a new set of exquisite pillows she’s been eyeing.

Her preference for the utilitarian resonates in ones she creates herself, but with a touch of—as the name suggests—her cheeky and chic personality. Her line of products that range from travel gear to stylish accessories and customized keepsakes is known for its functionality, design, and quality.

How it started

Patricia never meant to set out and open a gift shop, but it was through gift-giving that her venture and passion for crafting grew.

Recalling a recent experience, she shared, “Somebody came to the shop whom I’ve never met and told me ‘I came here because someone gifted me these travel cubes and I can’t find it anywhere.’ What she had was actually from my first bazaar in 2014 and it’s still in great condition. She wanted one for her daughter.”

This narrative has become common among many of Patricia’s customers over the years. They are given something from Cheeky Chic, then they get in touch with her or head to her shop because they want to get something similar for family or friends. “People see my stuff and they buy one of themselves and another one for whoever they’re gifting it to. It’s such a common reaction,” she said.

Cheeky Chic has since been hailed as one of Cebu’s go-to gift shops, carrying cleverly-designed items such as fabric bins, bag organizers, reversible totes, home essentials, and more. Most of which are customizable and all proudly made by her community of crafters in Cebu.

The brand has come a long way since it started in 2014. Back then they were selling mostly pouches and organizers, which Patricia made during a sabbatical from her numbers-driven job in the corporate world.

“What I had known for a while was that my strength is in product development. It’s fun and it’s where my passion is,” she said. “I took time off and I started making things. I was making it for fun. Then the stuff piled up to the point it was a lot. My mom wanted me to sell it.”

So they called and emailed friends, and did a display at the old Tymad Bistro. Most of Patricia’s creations were sold that weekend, inevitably the turning point that inspired her to pursue her own creative outlet in the next few years.

“I get the most pleasure when people come up to me and say ‘I love it!’ They come to me and say ‘Look what I have in my purse,’ and they show me the organizers. It keeps me going,” she said.

In its early years, Cheeky Chic was a mainstay in holiday fairs such as the Breast Cancer Awareness Bazaar and the CIS Chrismas Bazaar, or in some cases, she recalled amusedly, “They would come to my house and we would go through their entire gift list!”

It was in 2019 when Patricia opened Cheeky Chic’s physical shop, or as she fondly described it, her happy place—a vibrant one-stop gift shop filled with colorful fabrics and assorted materials, and mounds of timeless pieces she has made.

It is where meaningful visions come to life. Aside from her own works, Patricia often collaborates with customers to achieve the product they want. “We work together and tweak it and make it their own.”

Runs in the family

Even at an early age, Patricia loved creating. “I’ve always been making things. I was never really skillful in drawing; I was more on the crafty side. In second grade, I would make my own headbands and clips, and I would have my family buy it at parties,” she said.

Her grandmothers and aunts were crafty people, too. “I grew up with my grandmother, and she was either knitting or sewing. I grew up being very exposed to these materials. When I was a kid, I would go with her to Familia House,” she said, referring to the popular store for sewing and textile goods.

Passion for art

Patricia has always been inclined to the arts, describing herself as “visual”. In earlier years, she dabbled in film photography and has done fashion editorials for Zee Lifestyle.

She studied Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, and eventually completed her degree in International Trade and Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

In the Big Apple, she tackled “the business side of things,” and worked in companies that supplied top-tier brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, and Naturalizer, to name a few. Upon returning to Cebu in 2008, she led a group of department stores as merchandising head.

New chapter

More than a decade of experience in product development, and Patricia was ready to pursue a new chapter and delve into designing and producing her own line. To finally pursue the passion project she exceptionally enjoyed. Patricia quit her 9-to-5 in 2018.

As with any new venture, it comes with its own challenges. She said, “When you’re starting a business, it’s just you. You’re in charge of everything. You wear different hats: planning what to sell, making it, marketing and labeling, answering questions. But at the end of the day, it’s what you love,” she said. “It’s different, it’s difficult, but it’s fulfilling.”

With Cheeky Chic, Patricia now works with a team of three and a growing community of sewers, woodworkers, artisans skilled in crochet and embroidery. She takes pride in the fact that all of their products are proudly made in Cebu, not made nor sourced elsewhere.

And then 2020 happened

When 2020 came, many businesses had to avert plans, including Cheeky Chic, whose growing momentum of the previous year came to a halt. But then there was the silver lining, and Patricia can only describe the infamous period of lockdowns as their most creative year by far.

“Even if we didn’t have orders coming in, we were still busy creating. I was constantly making new stuff,” she said. Some of which have become their bestsellers now like the Philippine floral monogram, and with plenty more still to be launched in 2022. “We’re beefing up our wedding section and we have a new line for kids, keepsake nursery toys, that’s coming up.”

Giving back

With her creative space growing, Patricia said that what’s next on her list is to give back what she has learned and mastered over the years. She said, “I really want to teach eventually and share my experience and knowledge with the younger generation.

“What breaks my heart is seeing all these talented students who end up in corporate because they feel they have nowhere else to go. It’s an avenue I want to explore. If they have the motivation and attitude to work in the (creative) industry, it would be nice to help them.”

So, which type of gift-giver are you?

Either way, you will certainly enjoy going through Cheeky Chic’s assortment of products you can give to your loved ones. Follow Cheeky Chic on Instagram and Facebook. Or drop by Cheeky Chic’s shop located in Lahug. Cebu City. Appointments are necessary.

Photography by PJ Yu | Videography by PointUp Films | Hair and Makeup by Karlo Damolo and Jerwin Batastas | Outfit by The Maze Ayala 

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