She Dares To: A Conversation with Chely Esguerra
We’re kicking off Women’s Month––and the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8––with a new series on our blog, She Dares To, in which we sit down and talk to women who, in this time and climate, dare to live a life of bravery, compassion, and intention. These are women whom we think the world needs to meet and we’re so happy we got to have these meaningful conversations with them that we can share with you.
Chely Esguerra, a longtime advocate of our flagship brand, Rags2Riches, is one of our first Things That Matter brand ambassadors. A girlboss in the field of advocacy communications, she has worked with amazing NGOs like the International Committee of the Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, and Amnesty International. She is also one of the co-founders of the video podcast, Coffee Break, a project she ran with her friends, Anna Oposa, Lynn Pinugu, and Bianca Gonzalez back in 2013.
Complete the sentence with the values or causes that are important to you: ___________ matter/s to me.
Kindness, justice, dignity, and truth matter to me.
How would you describe your personal style?
Looking at my closet, I tend to keep items that are easy, functional, and with details that I find interesting. I don't know if I can go as far as calling it a "personal style" because I feel like I go by whatever makes me feel good and able.
You are a Things That Matter advocate because we love that you are intentional about your life and decisions! How does this translate to the things you buy and surround yourself with?
One of the things that I truly enjoy is seeing the stories of small businesses unfold. I don't mean to romanticize, but their products––to me––are testimonies to an idea they once had, struggled with, but are now out there creating their spaces in the market. I make it a point to support small businesses and always get a bit giddy when I step out of the house, then realize how I'm decked in such brands. I'm especially drawn to items that create social impact but they need to have good quality. "Social impact" products that sell based on the promise of giving back to the community but don't really deliver quality is a disservice to the cause they're advocating.
I also have been more deliberate in purchasing items that I know I will use frequently or that will last me a long time. Now, it's much easier for me to say no to things that catch my eye but I know I will probably get tired of after a couple of uses.
What are your favorite Things That Matter brands?
- Rags2Riches. The Vivian Wallet has been my wallet for many years now and the Buslo was my trusty diaper bag for both of my sons. I also use it for work and for travelling––with all that space, you can't go wrong.
- ANTHILL Fabric Gallery. I love the simple structure of the Tagpi skirt and the way local textile takes front and center in this piece. Plus, they customize!
- Tsaa Laya. Can't beat good tea.
What is your mission in life?
I have always admired people who are able to identify one specific mission in their lives. I don't have a single, grand mission that I dedicate my life to. Still, I find that my choices are underpinned by these drivers: first is to leave this world better than when I have found it and two, to have the people around me recognize or remember that life is a gift because it is. And we should treat it accordingly.
Tell us about what you do for a living and for life.
I've always been conscious to only choose work with a purpose that finds itself comfortable at my core. Over the years, I've built a career in communications and marketing for mission-driven organizations. Right now, I work for a non-profit organization where I connect qualified and motivated professionals with international humanitarian missions. For life, I report to my teammates at home: my husband and my two kids.
What are the top 3 things or people that are most important to you?
For the first two: family and friends, hands down. I didn't even blink to answer that. I'd say the third would be the freedom to choose and to take chances.
What is the WHY that keeps you going?
There are a million why’s that keep me going: Relationships. Seeing people I love filled with joy. Wavelengths that meet. Stories of strangers. Strangers that become friends. Opportunities. Failures that teach. Wildflowers in sidewalk cracks. Clouds. The moon. A good laugh. An even better cry. Having everything I need. Having nothing. People trying. Open doors for learning. A good cookie. Wine. A scent that brings back a happy memory. Wonder naps. Reading a book outdoors.Okay, a billion is probably more accurate. I guess I'm just happy to be alive and this, for me, is more than enough reason to keep going. I mean, if being alive is the backbone for the chance to keep going, can't we acknowledge that we already have what it takes?