Zamboanga is her mother’s hometown. Torn by conflict but rich in colorful looms, it’s a place closest to her heart. Kelly Mortensen, a Filipino American, loved her mother’s hometown so much she became involved in tourism and volunteer work in the conflict areas in Mindanao. That’s when her eyes were opened to the richness of its looms, the creativity of women weavers and the beauty these women can offer the world. She built Yakang Yaka Barter. Yakang-yaka is the term for the Filipino can-do spirit! It means rising to the challenge and never giving up. She felt that it was the chant women of Zamboanga needed at the time. Yakang Yaka Barter creates sustainable and ethical fashion made by the women weavers in Zamboanga. She asked them to create bags, shoes, knitted scarves, travel accessories and more. Then she started selling them in bazaars in Metro Manila.

Today, she has a league of SHEROES weaving beautiful creations for a brand that was created specifically for them. One woman made it happen for other women and the world is so much better for it.

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