#HeyjowQuarantineCorners: Las Arca founder Max, on evolving ideas and spaces
For a good part of the year, our homes have become our daily workspace – and for entrepreneurs like Max Ignacio-Liwanag, her home has become an extension of their headquarters. Max is the founder of Las Arca, a brand known for beautifully curated gift boxes, which she started in the dining room of her dad’s house 3 years ago.
She shares with us how she and her team have adapted to working remotely and what ideas they were able to come up with while in quarantine. She also tells us about an exciting new chapter for Las Arca – and gives us a sneak peek of their dream office space.
What’s the story behind Las Arca?
“It’s a small business idea I came up with in 2017, back when I was selling off the remaining stocks I had from an old business I was folding. I was bundling my product with other gift items and when it was time to package them up, I thought wooden boxes were really pretty.”
“It took me a month to find a good factory that would do the wooden boxes for me, which turned out to be the business’ R&D, then when I was done with the bundle, I realized this was what I wanted to do. I pooled the last of my savings to buy more stuff that I could turn into gifts and built my first Instagram page and we haven’t stopped since!”
“In the 3 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve produced thousands of gifts and have really found our calling. To this day, this is something I look forward to doing at the beginning of every day.”
What have you been doing in your space since lockdown?
“Our space has not been the same! We used to hold all operations in this 100sqm apartment but now I split operations between the main office and my home. We’ve managed to retain our work flow by communicating more fluidly and have taken on the task of generating reports for even the smallest details so that any one of us can have access to work information that would otherwise be readily available if we were physically at work.”
“I run the business side of my job in my home office. Sometimes I take on gift assembly work when my team is fully loaded, too. I set up my station in our dining room, which oddly enough, is where I started Las Arca back in my dad’s home.”
After living in such closed quarters day in and out, did you notice a shift in the flow of your workspace on how it is used and did you do something to change it?
“The biggest change happened in my home. Since working remotely, I’ve had to spend more time on my vanity, which doubles as my work desk. Most of the spaces in my house have multitasked as well. Our dining room has been converted to an assembly area and our guest room is now storage for gift boxes, too. It’s a small price to pay for the convenience of having our stock within reach. I still try to ferry gift boxes and inventory to the office as much as possible, but I only do it once a week so things will inevitably pile up in my house, but I do it anyway to keep my house feeling like a home and not a second branch of my office.”
A peek into Maxine's home, as seen on Las Arca's Instagram Page
“I’ve only cleared out the guest room yesterday after having boxes there for the past 8 months! Though I don’t think I’ll be able to remove myself from the vanity table anytime soon.”
In what ways did the quarantine inspire new ideas?
“Quarantine brought on hundreds of ideas! Your brain just goes on overdrive when you have nothing to do all of a sudden.”
“Around 4 months ago, we took the leap and decided to finally move to a different location in a commercial building where we’ll have a bigger work space for the team. We’ll be able to welcome customers in a space that better represents Las Arca. This was brought to life by Moss Design House. Their vision just clicked with our brand.”
A sneak peek of Las Arca’s new office designed by Moss Design House
“We’ve launched so many new things under Las Arca in the last 5 months of being back to work—the budget series, Tierra, our line of dried bouquets, and new partners on Casa, our home line. For the rest of 2020, we’ll take it slow and focus on the office move but we have a very big launch coming next year. The idea was spawned by quarantine and the new normal so that’s something to look forward to.”
Follow Las Arca on Instagram: @lasarca.ph