Mithi & Co. — “The New Balikbayan Box”
Are you an avid online shopper? Thinking about what to gift family and friends abroad or in the Philippines? Many kababayans living abroad sometimes do not have the opportunity to go home to the Philippines to visit their loved ones. Enter Mithi & Co.
Mithi means “earnest wish” in Filipino. By collaborating with local, artisanal, and conscious micro and small Filipino brands, Mithi & Co. aims to connect Filipinos all over the world through the delight of gifting, granting their earnest wish with thoughtful and curated gift boxes. By celebrating Filipino culture, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurship, Mithi & Co. aims to inspire communities and deepen relationships.
I had the chance to speak with one of Mithi & Co.’s founders, Ieth Inolino-Idzerda to talk about the company's mission, the vision that started it all, and learn more about the variety of products offered.
Can you tell us more about Mithi & Co.?
At the height of the pandemic in 2020/2021, a lot of Filipinos abroad were unable to come home, missing family occasions and other celebrations. For those who couldn’t go home, they would send gifts or balikbayan boxes (gifting is a big Filipino custom and tradition). But then, the pandemic dramatically delayed this. So we thought, what if Filipinos abroad can give gifts to their loved ones without the delay, saving time, energy, and money? This is how Mithi & Co. reimagined the nostalgic ‘balikbayan' and dubbed it as the new 'balikbayan box'. This time, it is local, conscious, and curated — giving the attention and revenue back to the Philippines/Filipino SMEs.
Mithi & Co. is a Philippine, SEC registered business whose platform, www.shopmithi.com, is created for Filipinos all over the world for an easy, safe, and convenient gift shopping experience. The founders hail from diverse yet similar backgrounds, a common scenario of Filipinos all over the world. Ieth Inolino-Idzerda, Chief Executive Officer, is an immigrant in Europe and based in Amsterdam raising biracial kids. Sarah Fernandez, Chief Operating Officer, based in Manila, is a daughter of an OFW who spent her childhood in the Middle East. Niccolo Tuason, Chief Commercial Officer, who calls the Bay Area his home, is a second generation Filipino-American born and raised in California.
Left to right: Ieth Inolino-Idzerda, Chief Executive Officer, Niccolo Tuason, Chief Commercial Officer, Sarah Fernandez, Chief Operating Officer
The products of Mithi & Co. are gift bundles that highlight the story of every brand. We are a discovery tool for unique finds, hidden gems, and amazing stories of local Filipino brands, artisans, and craftsmen. It is a place where people learn some of the best locally made products.
What was the vision behind starting Mithi & Co?
Aside from what was mentioned, we want local brands to be on your gift list. When you shop at Mithi & Co., there is a gift for every person in your life — family, friends, work colleagues. We want to champion local and impactful Filipino brands. We believe that Filipino brands deserve worldwide attention and international recognition, and we want our platform to be a tool for that because our primary audience caters to Filipinos abroad. We want to show that Filipino brands can compete on a global scale.
"We believe that Filipino brands deserve worldwide attention and international recognition, and we want our platform to be a tool for that because our primary audience caters to Filipinos abroad. We want to show that Filipino brands can compete on a global scale."
Where do you source your products? Can you talk about some of the partners you work with?
We are always on the lookout for the coolest local brands with a social impact. Our platform is an avenue to connect local products and ultimately their brand story to Filipinos all over the world. We are looking for unique and interesting products that inspire communities and deepen relationships.
Our criteria includes: cause-driven (rooted in advocacy or works directly with the community); woman-owned brand; equal opportunity employer; founder is from an underrepresented group; artisanal and handmade; conscious and sustainable. We showcase the brand’s best sellers in one box, which is the gift bundle. So every bundle you give as a gift, the recipient is able to experience the essence and the impact of a particular local brand.
Some of the brands we work with include:
The brand was created by award winning jewelry designer Joyce Makitalo who works with third generation jewelry artisans, local tribes, and other Filipino communities such as the goldsmiths of Bulacan and the sculptors of Paete, Laguna. The artisanal creative expression is what sets the brand apart, driving them to their fullest potential with their own craft to bring about artful and finely crafted jewelry and sculptural objects.
Theo & Philo
Theo & Philo proudly honors high quality local ingredients—from the cacao beans of Davao in Mindanao, where fertile land and temperate climates produce some of the best cacaos in the region, and the world-famous sugar of Bacolod—and the renowned craftsmanship of Filipinos as it shares the distinct culture and fearless flavors of the finest single-origin chocolates from The Philippines. Every bar of the award-winning and internationally recognized Theo & Philo chocolate is a masterpiece, carefully crafted to capture the rich heritage of the Filipinos.
‘Luid’ is a Kapampangan (a Filipino dialect) word for conservation and prolongation. It is equivalent to the Filipino word Mabuhay! ‘Lokal’ is a Filipino word for local, which means from a small area of a country. Luid Lokal sources its products from small makers in the Philippines to help them showcase their products to a bigger market and to help their livelihood. It aims to honor the heritage of our country and help the local communities directly by only offering products made in the Philippines, made by Filipinos. It also promotes sustainability by using sustainable raw materials, producing in small batches, and providing non-plastic products and packaging.
All About Cashew
All About Cashew was founded in January 2021 to promote the versatility of co-founders Christine Labiano and Franciz Delos Reyes's favorite nut; cashew! They started producing small batches of cashew butter in Antipolo City in the province of Rizal. Today, All About Cashew has about 20 unique items on sale. Ranging from their original and flavored cashew butter to cashew-based vegan parmesan and cheese dip.
Savonille’s story began when the founder was in search of a body bar that works for sensitive skin and could still offer the benefits of brightened, soft skin. It was on a mission to show that Filipino skincare products can be of high quality. Its products are dermatologically-tested to be effective, yet gentle on your skin. It contains naturally good and vegan ingredients, free from parabens and sulfates.
What is your ultimate goal for Mithi & Co.?
We want to bring Filipino culture to all parts of the world. We want to help usher in the next Filipino renaissance. We want to support the Philippine economy from the middle out — starting with small businesses. Why? Small businesses hire more, pay more taxes, offer more opportunities, and they keep their profits in the community.
Lastly, we are starting with our corporate/B2B offering. For anyone visiting or companies that do business in the Philippines, we want to help by making it so that buying local should always be the first option.
Where can Filipinos abroad order products?
Filipinos from anywhere in the world can send gifts through our safe, secure, and easy-to-use platform, www.shopmithi.com. How does it work? They can choose from our selection of gift bundles. Then these gifts are lovingly packed in local hubs and delivered anywhere in the Philippines. Your gift arrives at the recipient's doorstep safe and sound (minus the sea sickness or cabin fever).
Unable to make it home to the Philippines or simply want to gift someone with curated local Philippine products? Be sure to check out Mithi & Co.
We have a special treat for our Rawmags readers. Here’s a 15% exclusive discount, using the code RAWMAGS15 at checkout. Happy shopping!
Special thanks again to Ieth for her time and all the best on Mithi & Co.’s future endeavors! Mabuhay!