The Greater Things on the Other Side of Fear with Bea Abrigo
From just dreaming about designing clothing pieces and being in magazines, Bea is now living the dream.
Bea is a recent graduate and a young fashion designer based in the Philippines with collections exhibited on Manila Fashion Festival last April 2018 and projects popping left and right.
Her early beginnings started with anxiety and doubts, but as she pushed through, she has proved that there are indeed greater things on the other side of fear.
Find out more about Bea's journey - from the university years to the big stages.
Valerie: Hi Bea! Thank you for being in our interview. Before we dive into things, we want to know more about you. Tell us more about yourself and what makes up Bea.
Bea: Hello! Well, I'm Bea. I'm a young Fashion Designer based in Philippines where I was born and raised in. I'm the youngest in the family and an extreme daddy's girl. *laughs* I'd say I'm a very simple girl, as simple as an artsy girl can get. I was an art student after all. I like anything that has to do with the beach and the outdoors. I love going on adventures and just being free. I have quite a gypsy heart. I just love to wander and experience new things.
At the same time, I'm also a workaholic which can be quite unhealthy to be honest. I don't really like not doing anything. It gives me way too much time to be inside my own head so if I don't work, I'm outdoors. That's me. That's what makes up who I am, I guess.
Girl same here! I can't not do anything. I actively rest...I'm an active rester. *laughs* By the way, congratulations on graduating from university! (Thank you!) What were your expectations of the university life before you came into it, and what was your uni experience really like?
Before the whole uni life, I was pretty much very sheltered. I was just kind of living in this bubble that I thought what the whole world was, you know?
Prior to uni, I never really had the experience of what it was like being on the outside. It's weird, really. I remember enrolling myself to uni on my own for the very first time not knowing what to major in, so I asked the person in charge which programme required the least mathematics and chose whatever it was she pointed. She gave me the prospectus and I sat there for an hour trying to figure out what to do with that piece of paper. Was I to encircle the subjects I was going to take? What was I supposed to do? Honestly, I had no idea because I was so used to having someone do it for me.
Anyways, I was a communication student before I decided to shift to fashion design. Fashion was my first choice but it scared me so much. I knew there was a good school for it in my city but I felt like I wasn't ready for it. I let my fear and insecurity do the talking, and convinced myself that fashion was just this hobby of mine that I would never make a career out of, so I studied mass communication for a year and a half.
At first I felt okay, like I could get a hang of it. Like maybe I'd learn to love it. I made new friends and had quite some fun but as it went on, it all just felt like a chore to the point where it became so exhausting. I started failing my classes and mind you, I have never failed a class my whole life before. I failed my Filipino class which was supposed to be the easiest given that I am Filipino. I mean, really? A Filipino failing a subject about speaking her own language? There's nothing that says "I'm so tired of everything" more than this!
That was my wake up call! I came home that day and spoke to my dad about the possibility of me transferring to a new school and finally having the courage to pursue fashion. I had my doubts even then. It took a big hit to my pride that I wasn't going to graduate on time but it was a risk I was willing to take. And that was the beginning of the most exhausting but equally existentially-fulfilling years of my life. The last three years just came and went by because I had the best time of my life.
Looking back at it now, only the good memories seem to pop right out. Sure, I had my fair share of trials and failures but they all seem like a blur. It's weird. I mean, I do remember sitting on the floor crying 'cause I've been busting my brain for ideas for a three-piece collection, or just staring at my sewing machine figuring out what to do next. But my mind almost immediately shifts to the successes that came after those struggles. It's just crazy to think that it's all over now. Studying fashion was a dream and I'm so glad I had the courage of making it a reality!
That's amazing! Isn't it amazing what you experience on the other side of fear? And also just shy away from graduating, your collection won in a competition which opened an opportunity for you to showcase you 10-piece resort wear collection at Manila Fashion Festival last April 2018. Your work has also been featured in Preview Magazine in the Philippines. Tell us all about these amazing experiences.
That was an experience of a lifetime! During my final year of uni, I conditioned myself to be at my best. I knew I had a lot of hurdles ahead of me and I was incredibly scared. I had a few classes left to take but they were all crucial for me to be able to have my graduation show and eventually my graduation rites so I did what I had to do. That preparation for that 3-hour graduations took my batchmates and I the whole senior year.
Aside from my classes, I was joining competitions here and there, and facilitate fashion events in the city. I was literally juggling everything with my two hands. Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to push through. Not only did we have our own 10-piece collection to worry about, we also had to fund that gradshow ourselves. We raised that show from the ground up - from the technicals to everything that made our show as successful as it was. That was all us! That being said, I never really had the time to think about winning, you know?
We were told three weeks before our gradshow what was at stake for us when we bag that "Designer of the Year" Award. I admit, it was very motivating. As the gradshow drew closer and closer, all I really thought about was putting the best show in general. Win or lose, I knew I was going to be fine as long as the show would be a success. Which was why it came as a surprise to me that I "won." Saying it feels weird because I never thought of it was a competition. I remember waking up on the day of the grad show and immediately praying to God that I perform well. I never said anything about winning. All I asked was that I have the confidence to do well and that whatever result was given to me, I'd be okay with it because I knew I did the best I could do. But I guess God had different plans for me that day because it's been crazy ever since.
Manila Fashion Festival and all the PR that came after it was pure insanity. I never expected my collection to be so well-received as it was. It was my first time in the big leagues. I remember being in the venue attending the shows during Manila Fashion Festival and thinking to myself, am I really here? Is this even real? I was standing there being introduced to fellow designers and Filipino celebrities. It all felt so surreal. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be experiencing all that at 21. I've always thought that maybe in the later years of my career (if I ever had one), I'd be able to show my own collection at a national level and be in magazines but never ever EVER did I think I would be doing it right after my graduation. It's insane.
Exactly a week after getting my diploma, I was backstage in Edsa Shangri La Hotel preparing to walk down the runway with my models in front of the national media for the curtain call. The universe works in such an inexplicable way and I have no idea what I must have done right to deserve all of it. It's really humbling!
Wow! I am already inspired and we aren't even close to finishing this interview! From a young girl dreaming to be a fashion designer to now being a legit fashion designer, what was your drive to keep going despite the challenges and setbacks?
Hmmmmm...as cheesy and predictable as it sounds, I've always thought of my family. It's such a Filipino thing to do; wanting to give back to your family after everything but I feel like it's so true though.
A few days before flying to Manila for the fashion show, I talked to my parents and said maybe I shouldn't do it after all, maybe I should just back out. It was too much pressure, being there with internationally renowned fashion designers and then there's me, literally a nobody. My anxiety was already building up and I was beginning to overthink everything. But at the end of the day, I kept going back to why I was doing it in the first place. I know it would bring my family so much pride and joy, you know? And that's something I couldn't pass up. I knew I had to suck it up and not think about myself and my insecurities no matter how much it was eating me up already.
Also, I always take into consideration the people who believe in me. There were so many people I'd hate to disappoint - my friends, teachers, and the most important one of all, myself. I know I'd hate myself for succumbing to defeat and let my anxiety eat me up. It's an everyday battle, not just being a designer but also in being just myself. Just Bea. Every time a challenge comes up or even the slightest inconvenience, it's always my anxiety that comes out to make me doubt everything. This is when I think about the things that are important to me and why I should keep going.
Continuing from that, was there a verse of scripture that you held on to through this journey? If yes, what was the verse and why?
My faith has always been something I rarely speak about because it's so personal to me. It's not that I'm ashamed of it, which I am not. I believe in God. It's just my relationship with God is something I hold so dear to me so I guard it. But in recent events of my life, I've learned to open up little by little.
Throughout my journey, if there's one verse in the bible that I held on to, it's Jeremiah 29:11. It just speaks to me. It brings me comfort to know that no matter what I go through in life, God always has plans for me. They may not be the plans I have for myself but I know they're plans that will work out for the better. My friends will probably laugh when they read this because they won't believe that this came out of my mouth since I never really speak about things like but it is what it is. So yes, Jeremiah 29:11 always.
I love that! You are truly living your dream and that is something we inspired with. What is your top three pieces of advice to the young gal dreamers out there?
I always feel weird when people ask me this, honestly. I don't think I'm ever qualified to be giving advise to people because I've basically been winging it and trusting the process my whole life. I've never had a solid plan that I followed through until the end. Something always switched up but as far as advises go, here are my top three:
Be open to trying things. I know, it can get overwhelming sometimes but truly, it does not hurt to try. Okay, that's not true. Sometimes, it does hurt. Throwback to the day I asked my friend for a boy advice and she told me it wouldn't hurt to try so I did. Fast forward a month later, it hurt. But whose to say there were no lessons learned? Who says you can't try again? It's been my mindset for a while now, to just try. No matter how good or bad it ends, at least you tried and that's a point up in your experience book. I think of it as a story I get to tell one day to my kids or friend's kids, that once upon a time I tried to do this or that and regardless of how it ended, I gained something from it that helped me become the woman I am.
#2: Things seldom work the way you want it to and that's okay.
If there's one thing that's constant in this world, it's the fact that nothing ever stays the same. I think it's important to acknowledge that. I used to be that girl who hated when things don't go my way. It irritated me when things pan out differently than what I expected it to be because I feel like I failed at making things work. I always feel like I miscalculated or took a wrong turn and obsess over it, beat myself up for it, and it's not a good thing to do. I can't always have things go my way and that's perfectly okay. I've learned to trust the process slowly and let go of what I have no control over. It's not an easy thing to do but baby steps, right? At the end of the day, complaining and being mad at things gets you nowhere. It's okay to fail and stumble. Not everything happens as planned, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the road. Start again. Trust the magic of new beginnings.
#3: Keep yourself in check.
This one I learned the hard way. I know, crazy, right? Something so simple can be so hard to do. In the 21 years I've lived, I never really understood the concept of taking care of yourself or self-love. I've always thought it was enough to look out for people and making sure others are doings okay, but it's really not. Sometimes, the person crying for help the loudest is yourself and you don't hear it. Or worst, you do hear it but brush it off because there are far more people who deserve the help. I am that girl who constantly feels pressured to be strong for everyone around me. But I realized that it's important to keep yourself in check too, to not be too caught up in everybody else's drama that you forget about you. It's not selfish. It's necessary. How else are you supposed to help and inspire others when you can't even lift your own spirits up, right? Give credit where it's due and don't forget to look in the mirror when you do. Give yourself the same love you give so freely to others. I know there are days when it can be so hard to love yourself, but still try and try and try. That alone is a victory.
I love that! Self-love is not selfish. It's necessary. With this amazing journey, what was the greatest lesson you have learned so far?
The greatest lesson is probably self-discovery. I've learned so much about myself that I never really paid much attention to before. I've learned to trust God even more. There was so much internal struggle that I never really spoke about and I think what made me overcome them was my faith. Again, I am not very open about this but what I can say is that it pays to trust your journey and believe that wherever your are headed, it is the right direction. Sometimes you might get sidetracked and be pulled at an entirely different direction but trust anyway. Even when you don't understand it, even when everything is making you want to pull all your hair out in frustration, trust anyway. There is a purpose in the waiting. It may be cliché to hear but it's true, at least for me.
Girl, I couldn't agree more! That has also been so true for me too. We now want to ask you two things that we ask every gal who share their story in the blog. Firstly, Her encourages women to keep growing in their journey. What does it mean to be a work in progress to you?
To me, being a work in progress is allowing yourself to grow through life no matter what. It's recognizing that you are human and you are allowed to take your time to be the person you want to be. You can never truly be the perfect daughter, sister, friend or significant other but you can always work towards being better. Being a work in progress means you are never finished with bettering yourself. There will always be a chance for you to improve and become something, anything you want to be which I think is a gift. I think everyone is a work in progress. Everyone is on the pursuit of finding who they are and working towards it. It's just that not everyone is at the same pace but that does not mean they are not making any progress.
Yes! Any progress is a good progress no matter what. Being a work in progress means stepping into different seasons and stages, and those seasons always come with challenges. One thing we encourage the community to tackle this is through self-celebration where we celebrate ourselves and our victories. Why is it important to practice self-celebration and in what ways do you celebrate you?
I've always been a firm believer in celebrating victories no matter how tiny they are. To me, as a young woman it's so important to celebrate yourself and your achievements because life can get so hectic and messy. It's so easy for you to get caught in the middle and you forget to stop and think that hey, I'm here and I'm alive. That's got to count for something, right?
Personally, I celebrate even just getting rough a rough day. More than anything, I celebrate the small things because they're the things that eventually make up the big victories in life. You don't always have to indulge in expensive things when you "celebrate" tiny victories. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that too but sometimes it's enough to take time to be grateful and give yourself a bit of "yay, you made it!" at the end of the day.
Love it! So, we've reached the end of our interview. We always want to stay connected with women around us and support them in their adventures and goals. Are there any personal goals or projects that you are currently working on?
I am actually just trying to take a break from it all right now. I've been on the go the last three years and it feels good to finally take some time for myself. Although knowing me, I'd probably get bored and jump right back to work the second I get the chance but while I don't feel that way just yet, I'm trying to enjoy solitude and not really having much to do. But I do have a few things I'm working on at the moment that I can't speak of just yet. I've been working on a few projects here and there and I'm really excited for what's to come.