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#TatagPinoy: Beads and Crafts: A Chance for Inmates

by Isabelle Go


With creativity and a kind heart, Jocelyn Ybanez helps inmates provide for themselves and their families. Jocelyn Ybanez is a local artist and entrepreneur from Zamboanga City. She is the owner of Jho Beads and Craft Store where handmade beaded bags and accessories are sold. What makes her work inspiring is that aside from promoting local artistry through her products, she also involves inmates in the artistic productions of her store products.


Her helping hands are called “beaders” and they come from the Zamboanga Bureau of Jail and Penology. While most expect women to be the beaders, Jocelyn Ybanez surprisingly commissions male inmates. When asked how she chose her beaders, she answered “they just volunteered” and then decided based on the quality of their work.


Her initiative to involve the inmates in her business started when she simply thought of teaching them how to make simple beaded products such as wallets, for them to sell and have a source of income for themselves. However, she noticed that the wallets made and sold by inmates were not sustainable enough as it was hard for the inmates to reach a wide target market. She then took action, joined exhibits, and grabbed the opportunity to showcase the bead work of inmates.


“Ang pinaka-inspirasyon ko talaga is yung mga inmates.” [My main inspiration were the inmates.] Jocelyn said when asked what inspired her to run her business involving inmates. She wanted to prove that “Di porket nakakulong, hanggang doon na lang sila. Wala silang ginagawa.” [Not because they’re in prison, they’re in a dead end with no contribution to society].


She was dearly motivated to help the inmates earn their source of income while being in prison. This chance was especially important for beaders who are saving for their future and for fathers who need to suffice their families despite being in jail. Successfully, Jocelyn Ybanez was able to exhibit her business and products of inmates in the Manila FAME held in World Trade Center, SikatPinoy, Zampex by DTI, and One Mindanao Exhibit in Davao City.


The way she operates her business makes her happy. A heartwarming experience she shared was when one of her beaders approached her to say thank you because the inmate said that it was the first time his child visited where he was able to give money for Jollibee.


Jocelyn Ybanez is an inspiring local artist and entrepreneur whose goal is to help inmates through her beads and crafts business. She wants to share a message to aspiring local artists and business owners to have perseverance. Business is not easy and it can take years for one’s business to flourish. And if you can, try to consider involving the community in your business especially those who are at a disadvantaged state to earn for themselves.


So, if you are interested to see the creative beads and craft work of Jocelyn Ybanez and her beaders, you may visit their physical store on San Jose Road, Zamboanga City or visit their Facebook page: JHO BEADS and CRAFT STORE (https://www.facebook.com/Happybearder1965/)


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