Island living has always been Jof Sering’s dream. But it took her many years to finally get to where she is now—blissfully making (and selling) homemade products on the teardrop-shaped tropical island of Siargao.
Jof recalls, “We spent childhood summers there. [So] after graduating from college, I dreamt of living in Siargao.” The BS Clothing Technology graduate soon found herself working in Boracay, living her dream. She worked as a front desk officer in a spa, and ran a beachwear line with friends on the side. She says, “I went through a lot of ups and downs [in Boracay]. [But] when I had to move back to Manila, I knew it was just a transient move.”
After all, she did have the talent to strike out as a creative entrepreneur. This highly active and artistic spirit has had a penchant for making art and beautiful clothes for as long as she can remember. “I’m grateful I had many opportunities to live out all these passions [thanks to] my parents, siblings, friends, and even divine intervention.”
The Path to Joy
Felice is a carefree island girl that Jof dreamed up; it’s also the name of her online clothing and jewelry business and beach shop/art studio in Siargao. Jof shares how she came up with this adorable character in 2008: “Felice started out as doodles of this girl in a bikini doing crazy things. When I had to stay home for three months to recover from a rare skin disease, painting became a part of my healing process. When I was fully healed, I had lots of painted girls.”
In 2010, Jof (whose second name is Felice) decided to sell her doodles as artwork under the name “Felice.” Aside from selling cheerful Felice art in Manila, Jof also taught watercolor workshops inspired by island living.
In 2015, fate led Jof to style a wedding at Siargao and she decided to stay on the island for good. However, reliable and fulfilling work did not come easy. She experienced a few career dead-ends then eventually realized her side business–Felice–could become her full-time profession. “I asked myself, ‘Do I want to put my energy again in other people’s dreams?’ Felice was always a side business and if I treated it as such, it would always be a side business. When I committed to that dream, it finally manifested.”
Her husband Fabio and her sister Tara helped Jof figure out the next step. With her sister offering to help financially, Jof soon found a piece of property in Siargao where she could sell her products and teach art classes.
But it wasn’t smooth-sailing at first. Jof shares, “In the beginning, I was doing all the roles: shopkeeper, accountant, buyer, creative director, art class teacher… I was happy but deflated by the end of the year. I decided to cut out activities and devote more time to play, so I got my energy back. It was a lesson on taking care of myself.”
Another obstacle was looking for reliable staff who could commit to daily work. “From experience, people have a tendency of not showing up without [prior notice], but I’ve been very lucky with my staff now. They’re highly reliable, honest, trustworthy, and happy people!”
A New Chapter
Jof believes that her passions are food for her soul. So she makes sure to regularly draw, paint, cook, meditate, create, and soak up the wonderful energy given off by nature. To give back, Jof teaches embroidery to local women, helping them earn extra income. Although these women have day jobs, they are eager to learn a new skill and consequently earn more.
Like her ever-changing roles, her work is also evolving. Jof says, “The original shop concept added other brands to the roster. But now it will be mainly my brand plus collaborations with others with the same style. I will launch the products mid-year through my website. The new Felice space will include more craft sessions as well!”
Lucky to pursue her passions on an island that serves as her home and inspiration, Jof gives advice to people still searching for life’s meaning: “You have to get to know your inner life more intimately. It will be your compass in deciding where to go, what path to take, who to be with, and why you need to do certain things. You can plan all you want, but be prepared to surrender and change course when your inner self asks you to!”
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