Nika Diwa And Her Fashion Brand, Láro, Spread Awareness About Abuse And Human Trafficking
“When my niece was five, we were playing dress up and she said she couldn’t wear a costume because she’s too fat,” begins Nika Diwa. “I went to the bathroom and cried. There was this little voice in my head that said to my heart, ‘Whoever said that to Emma, I’m going to get them.’” With a booming career in fashion merchandising in New York, she was at the top of her game. But it was also then she realized that the voice dictating those unhealthy body images to her niece was the very industry she belonged to. She put in her two-week notice after the incident.
Jerome Salaya Ang dress and Aldo heels
Despite getting a lot of flak for her seemingly impulsive decision, she took a break and started blogging. Eventually, someone took notice and invited her to come to the Philippines to speak about her personal experiences and overcoming challenges. “I was hurting and to my surprise, other women around me were hurting, too,” she says. Her year of writing for herself turned into empowering talks for women through fashion, helping women find a renewed sense of self-worth by guiding them into defining and strengthening their personal style.
Nika is the epitome of the modern woman: Assertive, confident, and a go-getter. As the founder of Láro, a brand focused on creating one-of-a-kind handbags made of local materials by Filipino artisans, her open and outspoken nature reflect the very personality of every Láro bag she helps design. Seeing her dressed in bold patterns and colorful ensembles, no one would guess that she had suffered abuse as a young woman. This fueled in her a desire to educate others and to use the universal language of fashion as a way to bring awareness about abuse and human trafficking.
As Nika focuses on human trafficking by partnering with businesses and holding workshops, her heart is set on “killing comparison in women.” She explains, “I want to start fostering conversations in the community and to stop this mindset that if a woman in my circle is more beautiful or more successful that somehow takes away from my value as a person. Another woman’s success doesn’t make you any less. If anything, we can learn from each other. That’s a desire that I have: Just to see women be kinder to each other and to just stop comparing.”
Photography by Cyrus Panganiban for Metro magazine
Styling by John Karunungan and Hillary Lee of Styledit group
Makeup by Epo Sindayen
Hair by Russel Gonzaga for Aveda
Shot on Location at Makati Garden Club
This article originally appeared in Metro Magazine, Women of Now 2018 issue with Heart Evangelista-Escudero on the cover.