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Sunday, October 20 2019 - 12:15
Home > News Archive > Lady of the Lamps
 
Success Stories: Christine Sicangco: Lady of the Lamps
 
           When Christine Sicangco established Christine Sicangco Lighting Designs, Inc. (CSLDI) in Bacolod in November 1994, it was to put into practice her extensive experience in lighting design. It was a tough decision - the concept was relatively new in the country, and there were no local practitioners she knew of who could be role models to relate and benchmark with. With a complement of seven workers and four administrative staff, Christine set up shop in a 170-square meter area on the third floor of a family-owned building in San Juan Street, Bacolod City.

           CSLDI handles architectural lighting design and consultancy and specializes in the design and manufacture of various lighting fixtures. The line consists of table lamps, wall sconces, floor lamps, and pennants or hanging lamps. Various colors of handmade paper are crafted to serve as shades and, when combined with either ceramic, steel, wood, or stone lamp bases, provide a unique lighting concept.

           Christine prescribes the appropriate intensity of light, and suggests the most energy-efficient and aesthetic lighting design for a given space or setting. She worked as a lighting designer for New York-based lighting design companies, Horton-Lees and Johnson Schwing Hammer.

           As such, Christine was able to put together a portfolio that includes lighting designs for places like the Chase Manhattan Bank, the National Geographic Society, and the BASF headquarters. She has also done lighting designs for showrooms of famous designers Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, J. Crew, Barney's, and Jill Sanders.

           Within a year, CSLDI had built a client base consisting of such establishments as Nature's Village, the Bob's Restaurant chain, the Philippine National Bank, and the Bacolod Bargain Square Mall. After operating for more than a year, Christine began to set her sights on markets abroad, but she did not know where to start. Through the seminars she attended, she learned that exporting meant producing in bigger volumes.

           At that time, CSLDI's monthly capacity ranged from 100 pieces each of lighting fixtures and shades - not enough to export. Through her sister, who manages a furniture company, Christine learned about the MPEX program of the Department of Science and Technology's Technology Application and Promotion Institute (DOST-TAPI). The MPEX program provides consultants to companies that need just a little push in order to get going in markets abroad.

           The consultants suggested a design for a 400-square meter factory building specifying the materials to use, and prepared a floor plan identifying the different sections. Furthermore, they advised Christine to provide individual worktables for the workers to minimize distractions, and incorporate finishing operations within the factory to contain the spread of toxic fumes.

           A design for a spray booth was also prepared. The expenses she incurred for the consultants' three-day stay with the company - about P5,000 - was a pittance compared to the tremendous impact of the P35,000 worth of government assistance extended by TAPI. CSLDI moved into its new premises in 1997, a 700-square meter building standing on a portion of a family-owned three-hectare property in Sitio Bito, Barangay Estefania Villamonte in Bacolod City.

           Now, 95 percent of the company's products are exported. The biggest buyers are from France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium. The lampshades also reach such places as Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Beirut, Canada, the US, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Sales figures from 1997 - the year when CSLDI broke into the world market - doubled, from over P2.3 million to P4.1 million in 1998.

           However, Christine realizes that just as a company may experience birth pains, its growth could also be uncertain. At the moment, the company gets its handmade paper materials from only one supplier in neighboring Iloilo province.

           She plans to produce her own handmade paper in the near future, and has already attended a training program on handmade paper making organized by the DOST provincial office.

           Christine is also exploring other materials to serve as lamp covers: though she is researching into the potential of fiberglass, her goal is to eventually use glass.

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