Banila Co WOTM Reese Fernandez-Ruiz talks about being Lit from Within

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We at Banila Co. believe that women should inspire each other to become better versions of themselves. For the month of March, which is also International Women’s Month, we decided to interview a very inspirational woman who is truly ‪#‎LitFromWithin‬.


Banila Co: How did you come up with the concept of Rags2Riches? Was there a certain event or incident that triggered this idea?

Reese: Well actually R2R is not just my concept. I’d like to believe it’s a convergence of concepts of people with the same hearts and minds. So it started about 8 years ago, I was a fresh graduate and my co-founders were young professionals and there was a priest also.


So we were going to Payatas and it’s one of the biggest urban poor communities in Metro Manila. We felt na instead of just going there and being exposed and immersing ourselves, we wanted to do something about what we were seeing— about poverty.


We wanted a solution and not just for us to look at it and say that we’re so lucky. We wanted to do something about it.



Banila Co: What were the challenges that you encountered while you were starting and how did you overcome them?

Reese: There’s so many but maybe the biggest challenge was gaining the trust of community artisans because our community members are all survivors. They survived all these years in their community fending for themselves, trying to survive and there were lots of people who gave them promises already before but the promises didn’t necessarily come true for them.


 It was very difficult to get their trust but it took about, actually 4 years before we got the trust of our community artisans. It’s still a work in progress, we’re still building it as we go along but I think the important part is we never gave up and we didn’t put ourselves in the position of being saviors and helping others.


We always put ourselves in the position of being a partner, kasi when you treat other people with the dignity of being a partner they respond in the same way, rather than just saying na “I’m helping you so you have to do this.” So parang for us very grounded and we were also very open to learn from them as much as they were open to learn from us.


Banila Co: What/Who inspired you to become who you are today?

Reese: There’s so many people, it’s impossible to have all the names but my family definitely. My mom and my dad, they’re very supportive of what I do. My brother also, my husband. I’m very fortunate to have people who didn’t think that this was a project and just an advocacy and thought that this was a legit social enterprise, a business that can be profitable but can also make an impact in the country.



Banila Co: Surely there are a lot of people, not just young women, who aspire to be like you. What would you like to tell them? Any tips or advice?

Reese: I’m sure it’s good to be inspired by other people and it’s good to get inspiration from outside but I think the biggest thing that somebody has to do for his self/herself, herself especially is to look at her strengths and what she can do and see her calling.


I feel na some people are called to be social entrepreneurs, some are called to be professionals, some are called to be in corporate. There’s no bad path; I think all of the paths have something amazing in store for them and if they just go to the path where they’re called and do their best there and think of others while they’re there.


Always be compassionate, always share what you have. You’ll still be part of building a better world. It doesn’t have to be in social enterprise but if it is, it’s going to be a fun ride. It’s not yet a very defined industry so you’ll be part of the first few people defining it. You’ll encounter a lot of challenges but I think at the end of the day, when you know why you’re doing it, you’re purpose for doing what you’re doing, you’ll be happy. You’ll be able to create the impact that you want to create.


Banila Co: If you were to choose one attitude in order to be successful, what would it be?

Reese: I’d say grit. There are so many things that we could do in the world but if we don’t have the determination and the grit to get it done, it’s very difficult to get things done. You have to really believe in what you’re doing and never give up on it no matter what. I think that grit is very rare these days but it’s important. If you want to be successful, if you want other people to be successful as well, you have to be very determined to do it even if there are challenges.



Banila Co: We at Banila Co. put emphasis on being “Lit from Within” not particularly on the outside, but on the inside as well. What makes you Lit from Within?

R: I am Lit from Within because I truly believe in what I’m doing and I am inspired by everyone around me and I think it shows. When your intentions are good so it’s not just about how you look like from the outside— that also helps your confidence; but also your intentions, the purpose you want to fulfill in the world. If you have that, then you’re not just beautiful on the outside but you also have that light that shines from within.




Products used on Reese:


It Radiant Brightening Cream

Prime Primer Classic

It Radiant CC Cream

It Radiant CC Cushion BE20

It Shiiny Shimmer Base (as Highlighter)

The Secret Face Multi Shading Contour Palette



Eye Love Brow Cake Golden Brown

Holiday in Seoul Eyeshadow Palette (Natural Touch)

Wonder Pencil Auto Gel Liner Deep Brown



It Radiant CC Cream + Kiss Collector Lip Crayon (as blush)

Kiss Collector Lip Crayon


Shop the collection here!



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