The 'New Balikbayan Box' Packs Premium Filipino Brands
The season of giving came and went just like that, which means it’ll be a while before we restart the countdown to Christmas. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities to celebrate important occasions like birthdays, graduations, promotions, and anniversaries.
Sometimes, we don’t even need a reason to send each other messages, tokens, or gifts. This is true for nearly all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who, even from miles away, often pour their energy, time, and resources into their balikbayan boxes. More than the goods and gifts inside, a balikbayan box contains and represents the sender’s dedication, hard work, and love for those they hold dearly.
But as with everything else affected by the pandemic, the ritual of sending a balikbayan box can be quite the challenge today as it often involves sky-high costs and logistical problems. This sometimes results in losing that personal connection, which defeats the purpose of sending one in the first place.
'Gift local even when you’re abroad'
This is the out-of-the-box idea behind the premium ecommerce gifting platform Mithi and Co., which reimagines and repackages the concept of the balikbayan box. Through curated Filipino-made items in this New Balikbayan Box, the company helps connect those who live abroad to their loved ones in the Philippines.
Mithi & Co. founder and CEO Ieth Inolino-Idzerda says the New Balikbayan Box is curated, packaged, delivered, and unboxed locally
“We discovered that a lot of them struggled because they didn’t see enough options online,” says Mithi & Co. founder and chief executive officer Ieth Inolino-Idzerda. “They would end up asking another relative to buy the gift for them or send cash as a gift instead. In both cases, it wouldn’t feel personal.”
Through the company’s gifting concept, kabayans overseas now have the option to send their loved ones in the Philippines premium local products, veering away from the usual imported products that traditional balikbayan boxes contain.
Mithi & Co.’s New Balikbayan Box also shifts the spotlight to local SMEs, whose products are not usually included in gift lists. The gift curator is keen on partnering up with brands that are cause-driven, woman-owned, equal-opportunity employer, underrepresented, artisanal and handmade, and conscious and sustainable.
The company also puts a premium on the “personal touch” as the recipient’s and gift giver’s names are handwritten on the packaging. Additionally, some of its partner brands also offer even more personalized gifts. For instance, Luid Lokal allows for customized engraving on some of its woodcraft products.
Coffee lovers can enjoy two personalized coffee mugs and other coffee essentials with Luid Lokal’s But first, coffee! gift set
“Some of the best products in the world are made in the Philippines. And yet some Filipinos, whether in the Philippines or abroad, haven’t heard of them,” Inolino shares. “Mithi & Co is an avenue to connect their brand stories to Filipinos all over the world. We are looking for unique and interesting products that inspire communities and deepen relationships”
The New Balikbayan Box may include exclusive products from award-winning creative Filipino brands like Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates and J Makitalo Fine Art Jewelry, and local makers and merchants such as Luid Lokal Wood Crafts, Marta's Handmade, Happy Camper, Marikit MNL Candles Co., Coco Dolce, Cheese Crafter MNL, and Una Ricci.
“We are always on the lookout for the coolest local brands with social impact,” Inolino adds. “Our platform is an avenue to connect premium and artisanal Filipino products, and ultimately their brand story, to Filipinos all over the world. We want to champion Filipino brands and Filipino makers and merchants. Filipino craftsmanship deserves to be on the global center stage.”
The New Balikbayan Box provides a more enjoyable unboxing experience with a carefully packed premium set of products
Mithi & Co. earns by taking a small percentage off of every gift box sold. In turn, the company provides its brand partners a new way to be discovered and appreciated by customers. Because products from the same brands are often bundled, it also helps add to these brands’ topline or revenues.
“We saw a rise in direct-to-consumer brands that moved to the ecommerce space during the pandemic, and we want these micro SMEs, and artisans to be discovered on a global scale, without spending expensive marketing campaigns,” says Sarah Fernandez, chief operations officer of Mithi & Co. “This is a close partnership with our merchants. They are the heart and soul of our business. We only earn when they earn.”
According to Fernandez, the company’s primary customers are individuals—both Filipinos or foreigners—based abroad with ties to the Philippines.
“Because of the uptick in remote work opportunities since the pandemic, we also want to provide gifting services to companies abroad with offices and employees here in the Philippines,” Fernandez adds. “We get a few local customers wanting to score exclusive gift sets from our brand partners. But our main audience and focus are still Filipinos abroad.”
Since the products are locally sourced and packaged, delivery takes only one to three working days within Metro Manila, while it takes seven to 10 days in provincial areas.
Mithi & Co.’s website launched just last December and already the company says they’ve been getting search traffic from different corners of the globe. The company says it is on the hunt for more unique and modern products to widen its offerings.
“In 2022, we plan on onboarding more brands to fill the gaps in our product mix, and make sure that our customers can find a gift they’d want to send to their loved ones whatever occasion it may be,” Fernandez says.
Visit Mithi & Co.’s website