I Am Her: Alodia Cecilia On Trying New Ventures & Figuring Things Out

She just kept going

Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.

Alodia Cecilia has a lot going on in her life. She launched her new collection, FLVX > LAYA > EN’COUTH, during the comeback of Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival. While preparing for the show, she was also at the helm of AC Design Yard, a multi-hyphenate organisation specialising in fashion, arts, and multimedia. On top of that, she’s working on multiple upcoming projects including a jewellery and accessories collection, a first-ever painting exhibit debut and a food business. A true Jill of all trades!

Alodia Cecilia standing in front of her collection

Alodia with her collection at Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival.

From a young age, Alodia Cecilia has always been the kind of person to dip her toes in a lot of things. She’s a master of figuring things out along the way. If she ends up succeeding in an endeavour, then great. If not, at least she can say that she tried. Either way, the experience is still a gain.

As a newbie designer, Alodia was brave enough to submit her portfolio to Runway Productions after hearing about an opening for the local Fashion Week in the Philippines. She took the chance and it became her official debut as part of the “New Generation” in 2008. From then on, she has continued to work in the fashion industry and even had the opportunity to showcase her designs for Oxford Fashion Studio during Paris Fashion Week in 2016.

Ahead, Alodia talks about her journey as a designer, what it’s like to run many ventures and the thing she likes best about her chosen career.

Fill in the blank: I'm a designer, an entrepreneur and a _______.

A walking paradox.

Why did you decide to choose fashion design as a career?

Life somehow brought me here. I’ve always wanted to be a painter, but it was not exactly encouraged as a profession by the people around me back then. I dropped out of college when I turned 18. To cut the story short, I opted for vocational courses — all design- and art-related, from dressmaking, silversmithing, pottery and more. It’s too many to mention! I have always been the type who likes trying out new things.

When I heard about the opening for (Philippine) Fashion Week, I submitted my portfolio to Runway Productions, and was lucky to be part of the “New Generation” Batch 2008. After that, I took fashion-related jobs and worked behind the scenes. Until one day, I got an invitation to do a show in Paris and was blessed to have been sponsored for the trip by my now business partner. A year later, we set up the AC Design Yard. I decided to continue doing fashion design, to rebuild a more solid brand, and soon expand to other art and design projects.

What is it like to run multimedia and design company AC Design Yard on top of being a designer? What made you want to expand in another industry?

As the creative director of the company, juggling a number of responsibilities keeps boredom at bay. Haha! But kidding aside, the concept I have for AC Design Yard has been a secret dream of mine since my pre-teen days. Since I am running the company with my business partner whose expertise complements mine, as opportunities present themselves, we continue to evolve within the company. We now have projects we never thought we’d be producing.

Alodia Cecilia working behind the scenes

Alodia Cecilia working behind the scenes at the "LAYA" fashion video shoot in Tanay, Rizal.

I enjoy trying new ventures and figuring things out. We can always opt to change the route while keeping the destination predetermined.  The Design Yard acts as my outlet to explore my creativity and resourcefulness with a bigger purpose in mind, and I love it.

How would you define your personal style?

Throughout the years my personal style has evolved. I was never really a fancy dresser; I like keeping things low key.  As I‘ve matured I’ve learned to dress based on what’s practical and I choose polished yet laid-back pieces. Some of us like having our “uniform”, and this is my version of it.

This realisation led me to launch another clothing brand, ACMS (All Classic Modern Staples). It’s an introduction to owning a wardrobe with a conscious approach, underrated luxury and sophistication. The brand is nothing trendy and practises slow fashion; we aim for zero-waste production. We also offer an option of accepting your worn-out garments within one to three years of use. For every three ACMS sets of clothing, we will replace it with one new set. This is our brand’s little way of adapting circular economy practices.

What do you like best about being a fashion designer?

When I first started, not knowing anything or anyone in the industry, it was a bit of a challenge to find my spot. But just like life in general, you must know and understand yourself — that’s how you figure out your purpose. I realised, for me, it’s by using design to convey a story.  The Philippines is culturally rich, and it’s such an honour to be in a position to share and highlight the beauty of our art and tradition.

What empowers you to do what you do every day?

It hasn’t always been easy, I’ve gone through a number of mental and emotional challenges.   What has helped is giving myself time to pause and reassess my thoughts and my goals. The belief that I can turn my visions into a reality is what I hang on to. I need to be patient with myself.

Silhouette of a woman

Share with us your Clozette essentials.

A pair of abaca slippers, a silk scarf, herbal tea, and fresh flowers.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Read more empowering stories of women here.

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