Fashion designer Stacy Rodriguez’ Makati office is located right next to a Burger Machine shack, flanked by rows of eateries and apartment buildings. It’s a bit of an unexpected location for her thriving self-named label, Eustacia—but Rodriguez is right where she wants to be. Having planned the Harvard St. space with her brother, interior designer Junie Rodriguez, she says that there was a conscious goal to change the environment around the area. “We wanted to come here and encourage people to start new kinds of spaces,” she explains, noting the location’s accessibility and quaintness.

Eustacia HQ is a study in dichotomy, comprising a showroom with dark walls and dim lighting, where Rodriguez meets with clients, and a workshop where everything is pristine and filled with natural light. “When I got this, it was so blank,” Rodriguez says of the showroom. “I wanted to create something that will inspire me, something vibrant.”

A massive red shelf with mismatched storage takes over one wall, home to books, magazines, and knick-knacks from her travels, which largely influence her designs. Paintings and mood boards are displayed close to her work desk: “I like them out, so that when I’m sketching and conceptualizing, they’re all there and I can see them.”

Rodriguez, who studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design, admits that her fashion philosophy has changed. Her first line, Glasnost, was inspired by former Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev’s idea of openness. “I was just making what I felt like making,” she says. Eustacia, on the other hand, is tighter and clearer. “When I rebranded,” she recalls, “it was time to really focus on making clothes for a woman like me or making clothes for the women I know,” which included family and friends. There’s an emphasis on the “Everyday Girl,” on pieces for everyone that can be worn to work or on a day out but are far from boring. Rodriguez is quick to add: “But I always have certain women in mind when I design.”

Soon, she will be overseeing the launch of the brand’s online platform, along with a ready-to-wear (RTW) line that brings back 15 of her classic silhouettes in three different mixed prints. A line of RTW long gowns is also in the works. “I’ve realized in the last year that a lot of my clients come in and bring the top that they bought from me before,” she says. “And they’re like, ‘I need to stop wearing this top, make it for me in another color, but I love it so much, I can’t stop wearing it!’”

Asked how she feels she fits into the idea of the self-made woman, Rodriguez confesses that it’s not easy. “We live in a time wherein you’re not just expected to be a homemaker,” she observes. “You’re expected to find yourself outside the idea of what a typical woman should be.” Now, in her 30s, she says she’s “married” to her work. “And I’m lucky,” she concludes, “because I’m one of the few who get to do what they really want.” – Fiel Estrella

Photos by JL Javier

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