Female Founders: Pandiwà

Lucie Janik

Welcome to Female Founders, our new series about women that don’t just convince us with their sense of entrepreneurship, but also inspire female empowerment. Our first founders are Chiara Capony and Roanne So of Pandiwà, a new brand of essential oils that launched this year and encourages you to take a step back and indulge in self-care.

Roanne So
Chiara Capony

Both originally from the Philippines, the duo moved to Europe in their twenties to study and settled in Brussels, Belgium and Milan, Italy. Chiara has an extensive background in sales and branding in the luxury industry and most recently worked for Louis Vuitton in the e-commerce department. Roanne is a multidisciplinary designer who mainly works as an interior designer in luxury interiors and frequently collaborates with artisans to create bespoke pieces. 

The brand’s first oil, named Likha, is a potent and invigorating blend of turmeric, pili nut, peppermint, calamansi, lemongrass, orange and tangerine that works to wake up the senses, reduce stress and lift your mood. Sounds promising, right?

I thought so too and ordered the citric blend to up my self-care game and reduce my pandemic-induced stress levels. First off, I am a sucker for great packaging and thoughtful details, and when my Pandiwa order arrived, my inner design child screamed with joy. Tucked into a cloth bag, the small bottle was accompanied by a beautifully handwritten note and palo santo wood, used for smudging or, as Roanne liked to call it, “cleansing bad juju”. Never one to not try out new things (or avoid bad juju), I lit up the Palo Santo and was ready to try out the oil. I opted to combine my pilates session with the oil’s uplifting scent and can only recommend it.

Since then, I have tried several different rituals but still love using it the most during my pilates class and just before bedtime. Two drops of the essential oil go a long way, and I simply press my hands to my palms and nose and breathe in deeply. To say that I slept like a baby would be an understatement and since then, I have incorporated the Likha oil into my bedtime routine. 

Amazed by the effect the Pandiwa oil had on me, I wanted to know more about the brand and its founders and hopped on a chat with Roanne and Chiara.

How did you come up with the idea for Pandiwà?

“We had been talking about doing something together for quite some time and we wanted to find a way to merge our passions and interests. Pandiwà is actually the evolved brainchild of Chiara’s MBA thesis. The idea sprung from wanting to showcase our Filipino roots in a way that reflected our own need to shift consumerist decisions to more mindful choices. Living in Europe as women of the BIPOC community, both of us had gone through our own struggles and we felt it was important to highlight the value of incorporating self-care in our own daily life.” 

What does Pandiwà stand for?

“Pandiwà is a Filipino word meaning “verb, or call to action” and “for the soul.” We are a sustainable lifestyle brand that advocates self-care and self-love through slow living. Our mantra is all about rethinking our own modern-day rituals. How do we show up for ourselves during times like these? How can we normalize making time for ourselves, especially in a world that has changed so much in so little time? 

We wanted to elevate that experience by creating our own ritual essentials. One of our goals is to create a space where we can help people learn how to love themselves. We wanted to make sure that our community would be founded on supporting local artisans and being able to give back to the environment.”

Why essential oils?

“When we started our brand, we knew we wanted our first ritual to be one that meant something to us. Our first blend is something really representative of where we’re from. Most of its ingredients are indigenous to the Philippines and are used by Filipinos every day. We’re really happy to be able to introduce the amazing benefits of these ingredients to the world. It’s always been a staple in our personal rituals, and we wanted to share that with everyone.”

How would you recommend using the oils?

“There are quite a few ways you can use the oils, it’s really versatile! You can use it in your diffusers, make your own bath salts with them, or mix them with some coconut oil and make a massage oil with it, to name a few. But we recommend doing a palm inhalation ritual when using the oils. It’s really refreshing and wakes you up instantly! You start by adding a drop or two into your palm, rub your palms together until some heat activates the oils, then place your palm in front of your face and take deep breaths."

Did you face challenges and obstacles while setting up the brand?

“Definitely. The entire process has been a steep learning curve for us. Everyday there is something new to learn. Since we are a new start-up, we’ve had to learn how to wear all the hats imaginable. It’s been challenging and daunting, but we take it one day at a time. We are incredibly grateful to have each other for support, and thankful for everyone who has believed in us and our concept since day one. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without their love and encouragement.”

How did the current pandemic influence you and your decision to launch?

“When the pandemic first hit, the entire world woke up to this new reality that we are living in now. We thought that it was only natural for us to launch the brand during a time where all of us needed to rethink our own choices and make more time for ourselves.”

How was the first response to the launch?

“We are actually overwhelmed with the response from our community. We are so thankful for their overwhelming support. We are really excited to grow with them!”

What does the future hold for Pandiwà? 

“We are actually really excited about what’s coming next! We’ve been working really hard these past few months on developing a lot of new products to expand our line of ritual essentials. Stay tuned!”

Which tips would you give female entrepreneurs that also want to start their own business?

“Trust your instincts. Your gut really knows best. Just start, you can never fully be ready. Finished beats perfect. Having an adaptive approach in starting your own business is really important to be able to pivot and strategize according to these fast-changing times.”

How important is female empowerment for you? 

“It is the essence of Pandiwà. We completely embrace the female energy of creating and nurturing, and we hope that our brand reflects that.”

Apart from being deeply invested in your self-care habits, Chiara and Roanne are also committed to giving back. The brand has partnered with “Save Philippine Seas”, an organization that advocates for protecting the ocean, and a portion of Pandiwà’s proceeds will go directly to the cause.

Feeling intrigued? I wouldn’t blame you. You can hop on Instagram and contact Pandiwà directly to buy the Likha oil, which currently retails for 20 euros. 

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