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Fascinating Women 2023: Martie Datu

The Fine Life Market’s founder empowers communities through her art and curation of local objects to support important causes

In an age where the consumer has easy access to just about anything online, shopping has become a pastime many pursue on their phones.  The days of leisurely perusing and taking the time to consider one item over the other, mindfully savoring the shopping experience are almost a thing of the past.  However, it is not so at The Fine Life Market, a retail store of beautiful local trinkets for the home on Brixton Street in Kapitolyo.  The inviting shop is Martie Datu’s brainchild.

Datu’s early career saw her in Singapore’s financial scene.  All the success in this field was an achievement for the young Filipina, but it still left an aching void.  Following her inner leanings, she took to painting upon finding a studio close to work.  After some art explorations, Martie received art commissions.  When you listen to where you are led, things come  easily.  There was a natural flow to it," she revealed to Metro.Style in a previous feature.

This inclination to create continued through the pandemic when Datu filled her time with candle and soap-making endeavors which she sold online.  Last year, she explored a brick and mortar platform for these, expanding to homeware which have been thoughtfully sourced from all over the Philippines.  The result is The Fine Life Market in Kapitolyo.  Here, you will find trays inlaid with mother of pearl, food covers woven out of local fibers, books on home keeping, interiors and art, ceramic surplus, handwoven blankets and towels, re-usable rolled towels and beeswax food covers.  The list goes on.

Fascinating Women 2023: Mirei Monticelli


Fascinating Women 2023: Mirei Monticelli

“I am mostly drawn to handmade and natural pieces. As a painter and an artist I often seek inspiration from my environment. The designs that I create together with the women local artisans are nature inspired. These pieces creatively bring the beauty of the outdoors inside the homes,”  Datu shares.

What ties them all together is Martie Datu’s discerning call to action for craft communities that are in need.  Working with these communities and putting their wares up in the beautifully-curated and merchandised The Fine Life Market has given her a platform to bring these makers’ works out to a growing captive market where an appreciation for slow, local shopping is growing.  

There’s more to Martie Datu’s cause-driven The Fine Life Market.  “The Fine Life Market was created primarily to help rescue Filipino children who are victims or who are at-risk of the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children or OSEC. It is one of the gravest, most urgent and most alarming forms of human trafficking crime against our Filipino children. The Fine Life Market is a Freedom Partner of the International Justice Mission  (IJM), a global organization fighting alongside us in protecting and rescuing our children by working closely with our Philippine justice system. A fixed percentage of our profits are donated to IJM,” she explains.

Nowadays, The Fine Life Market can be seen in select bazaars and pop-ups.  What started as one store with a mission in Kapitolyo is consistently amplifying its wares, mission and purpose to other venues.

A push towards sustainability and a sense of mission towards the children and environment are pretty compelling reasons to listen to one’s inner voice. What else motivates the woman behind the brand?  Get to know Martie Datu through Metro.Style’s exclusive Q & A with her:

What, for you, makes a fascinating woman?

"A woman who knows her worth and her truth. She is strong yet she is kind to herself and to others. She allows herself to be vulnerable and is not afraid to be herself." 

 In your opinion, what makes women who live well a fascinating topic? 

"These women are true living witnesses to those who want to make a difference in the world. They let their happiness and joy be a reflection of their blessings and this I think is fascinating because their joy creates ripples that extend far beyond their families and friends."

Who are your role models or design heroes?

"My mother’s my role model. Growing up I’ve seen her sacrifices as a homemaker to 5 children yet she never lost her joy and creativity. She created beautiful things inside the home. She would arrange beautiful flower and plant arrangements. Our runners, pillow covers, curtains were all handmade by her. She would re-arrange furnitures and decors in the home and reupholster old pieces turning them into stunning masterpieces. What she had was all she needed to turn her creativity into a business. She opened an antique shop and offered her design services to her friends and clients. She taught me that I can create something beautiful too with my hands and with what I have. I learned from her that handmade pieces speak volumes and old pieces have wonderful stories to tell."

 What would you like to impart on the next generation of women? How does your advocacy relate to this?

"Do what truly matters to you what truly gives you joy.  Remember that your talents and strengths are meant to serve others and the community."

 If you had three tips for women who want to chase their dreams, what would they be?

"1. Take one step: start small.  Know your purpose because there is always something bigger than our ambition. 

2. To the women who are not sure if they are on the right path, just keep keeping on. You may feel that there is a gap between the life that you lead and the life that you want to lead. It’s normal! Notice it and trust that you are right where you’re supposed to be. Then you’ll be well on your way to figuring out what rocks to move, mountains to climb, and bridges to cross. 

3. Pick up the lessons from detours and the u-turns, learn from them and re-learn again and again. "

Name women whose homes you’d love to grace with your creations and why?

"I would love  to see my pieces in India Hick’s home in the Bahamas.  Her impeccable style is drawn from the island, local materials, the island’s culture and artisans. She is grounded and passionate about love and life. Her service goes outside of her community in the island and joins meaningful global platforms to help those in urgent need. "

"[Another is]  Athena Calderone and her townhouse in Brooklyn. I love that she is drawn to timeless pieces. And that she collects unique and vintage pieces overtime through her travels. Her style gravitate towards hand made and the perfect imperfect details that closely resemble things in her environment. She is multi-hyphenated and I kind of resonated with her story. To have our pieces in her home would be a dream. "