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Ruanne Catapang honors Filipino culture through her shop’s jewelry collections

Ruanne Catapang’s pieces, along with her info card, are pictured on a beige surface. The fourth-year psychology student said her jewelry is inspired by her Filipino heritage. (Jordan Guzman/Daily Bruin)

By Ruwani Jayasekara

June 11, 2023 8:05 p.m.

Ruanne Catapang is threading Filipino culture and storytelling together through handcrafted jewelry.

The fourth-year psychology student said she founded her jewelry business, shoprchive, in early 2021 as a way to connect with loved ones during the pandemic. Over the past couple of years, the shop has amassed numerous followers on Etsy and appeared in pop-up shops throughout Los Angeles, Catapang said. Inspired by her Filipino heritage, she said each collection shares a story that encapsulates her personal experiences and cultural identity.

“It was a really humbling experience, which made me really proud about the shop. Definitely, the people I’ve met and seeing how my pieces and their stories have impacted people, whether it’s making them feel relatable to a certain story or making them feel more confident, simply how they feel wearing that piece,” Catapang said.

Her “Mahal” collection, translating to “love” in Tagalog, paid homage to friends and family members who were influential in her life, Catapang said. She said the Valentine’s Day collection, in which she designed pieces based on her family and friends’ distinctive personalities, provided a creative outlet to express her appreciation for them. Honoring her older cousin Christianna Gutierrez, Catapang crafted an eclectic pair of earrings entitled “T” to represent her bold personality and artistic style, Gutierrez said.

(Jordan Guzman/Daily Bruin)
Catapang poses with some of her earrings. She founded her jewelry business shoprchive as a way to connect with loved ones during the pandemic. (Jordan Guzman/Daily Bruin)

From encouraging Catapang’s initial design ideas to accompanying her to various pop-up shops, her family has motivated her to build confidence in herself and her small business, Catapang said. As an avid customer of the shop herself, Gutierrez said her family’s unconditional support provided Catapang with the reassurance she needed to grow her shop.

“With regards to the shop, I really hope that she continues to create because the pieces that she makes are so beautiful and really do inspire me,” Gutierrez said. “Seeing her put in that dedication and hard work into her shop, the fruits of her labor have shown how it went from friends and family … to people across the United States.”

[Related: Pulseritas by Kayla ties in Mexican culture through stylish jewelry]

Embracing her heritage, Catapang said shoprchive has provided a creative avenue to explore her culture and express elements of Filipino history. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, shoprchive’s upcoming “Kalakasan” collection draws inspiration from the flag of the Philippines and her culture’s significance in her life, Catapang said. Included in the upcoming collection, her favorite piece, entitled “Pangarap,” which translates to “dream,” honors her fellow Filipino graduating seniors who are achieving both their own dreams and the dreams of their families, Catapang said.

“Being able to talk about my culture, or even elements about it, is something that I really like about shoprchive because I’ve never really done that before until I started this business,” Catapang said. “I want to make sure that I’m representing the culture as best as I can in a way that people can understand it and resonate with it.”

Catapang said promoting her jewelry on Instagram has allowed her to share personal stories, including her inspiration for starting the business. Recovering from a second-degree burn on her hand, Catapang used jewelry-making as a form of therapy to regain strength and rediscover her creativity, she said. She said finding the intention behind her pieces ensures that the process does not feel burdensome and that it comes out of a place of passion.

Her storytelling has also been influential in establishing a consumer base, as the stories behind her pieces can resonate with her followers, Catapang said. Discovering her shop on Instagram, fellow content creator Amayah Barnes said she was drawn to the minimalist aesthetic of shoprchive. Barnes said she was able to form a supportive partnership and friendship with Catapang while continuing to frequent the shop.

[Related: Tosa Two Heart honors Lakota, Native communities through personal fashion brand]

Sharing her stories online and becoming the face of her brand has given her the opportunity to develop her self-confidence and has been a driving force in the shop’s growth, Catapang said. Catapang said she finds moments in her academic schedule to create and added that making jewelry is an opportunity for her to unwind and learn balance. Catapang said as a small business owner, creating shoprchive has allowed her to learn more about herself, and she encourages others to pursue their creative passions.

“Shoprchive has brought me a lot of people that I’ve met and that have supported me, and I hope to do that for others through the shop too, at least down the line,” Catapang said. “To use the space not only for me to support other people by making them feel more confident with the jewelry but also being able to provide people that opportunity.”

After graduating this spring, Catapang said she will be attending graduate school to pursue a career in occupational therapy, inspired by her own recovery process. Catapang said while the shop may take a brief hiatus, she hopes it will expand beyond handmade jewelry and provide an opportunity for other students to gain experience working for a small business.

“If there’s something on your heart that you’ve been really wanting to do or it’s been lingering on your mind, just try it out. You never know what will happen,” Catapang said.

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Ruwani Jayasekara
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