Meet the Crafty Sisters Behind Common Room

Hooray for handmade! Find out how crafter and entrepreneur sisters Roma and Maan Agsalud balance creativity with business smarts—and their top tips for adding a personal touch to a home.

To any seasoned arts and crafts bazaar-goer, Popjunklove is synonymous with adorable plushies and cute little pins that beg to be taken home. Behind the label are the Agsalud sisters Roma and Maan, “Two bickering (but craft-loving) sisters who are obsessed with pop culture, vintage finds, ukay-ukays, DVD marathons and siomai.”

These days though, the crafty sisters have their hands full with not just their own label but also those of their partner brands’ whose handmade products they proudly carry at Common Room, their latest “baby” born last August 2015.

Prior to the shop’s inception, the sisters already had a small stall of Popjunklove at Alabang Town Center and were poised to open a branch in the North. But then they found themselves facing an irresistible opportunity to expand their business—figuratively and quite literally.

“The plan initially was just another stall type space for Popjunklove but when we saw the location of a store space that opened up in Katipunan, we just knew that we had to take the leap. The 70 sq.m space, however, was too big for our brand so we decided to bring in our friends from the arts and crafts community to help us fill up the store,” recalls Roma.

She continues, “Back then, the concept was new in the Philippines so the move was scary, not only for us, but for our partners as well. In other countries, though, concept stores like this have attracted different tourists all over the world. We thought, ‘Why not here in the Philippines when we have such a vibrant and strong arts and crafts communities for years?’”

Opening at the right time

Common Room indeed couldn’t have opened at a better timing. Thanks in large part to Pinterest and social media, even those who didn’t think themselves particularly craftsy or artsy have developed appreciation and interest to try their hand at calligraphy and papercutting—which, by the way, are oft-requested workshops at Common Room as the shop also doubles as playground to craft learners.

Marked by an inviting lanai complete with a rustic swing, Common Room is exactly that kind of shop you could spend hours in. It has since become a place where makers and artists gather—and where lovers of all things handmade revel in variety. There is something for everyone (Tip: It’s a great place to shop for gifts!): from the lovely botanical pocket notebooks by Cheryl Owen to the quirky sticker sets by Couch; small leather goods from Punch Crafts to Filipino-themed wooden toys by Cut the Scrap.

“The vision is to be more inclusive,” says Roma. Since they are working with a limited space, they are planning to hold more events to bring in more brands and hopefully open up more opportunities for current and pop-up partners.

Shaking things up

As of the moment, the Agsaluds only have one branch in Katipunan, but they do hold seasonal pop-ups to shake things up. Recently, they had one at Alabang Town Center in time for Valentine’s Day. And last year they had a successful 100-day run at Power Plant Mall.

Even with their plates full as shop owners, the sisters continue to nourish their craft-loving soul and make cute things for Popjunklove. Roma shares her simple but tried and tested tip for balancing creativity with business smarts: “I remove moping from the equation. We usually just do what needs to be done to run and grow the business…If I need to stay up late to make [crafts], I just do it. You’ll be surprised by how many hours you’ll save just by going straight to hustling.

Giving your home a touch of handmade

If you want to inject your home with a dose handmade here and there, Roma dishes out five easy tips with items from their partner brands available at Common Room:

1. Does your space need a boost of fresh energy? Turn to nature. The succulents and indoor plants by The Greenhouse Project are always a nice touch inside the home, even if yours is just a room or a high-rise apartment.

2. In case you really have no time to take care of plants, you can go for the zero-maintenance home decor moss plants by Habil Crafts.

3. Statement pieces inside the home are good conversation starters too like lamp bottles by Vitrum or upcycled beer tumblers by Cristal Glass Project.

4. You can mix and match pillows as well to brighten up your home. Popjunklove has word pillows in different prints with words that can hopefully inspire you every time you see them.

5. Not all households can afford to have fresh flowers every day. But who says it has to be fresh flowers? Kasa Ko‘s dried flowers can be a great alternative.

Common Room is located at #325 Dela Rosa St., Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. The shop is open every day from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. For updates, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.