Get to know Felice beach shop and art studio owner Jof Sering as she shares what it’s really like to live on a tropical island.
HK: Tell our readers all about yourself.
JS: Hello! I’m Jof Sering, an entrepreneur and the creative brains behind the Felice beach shop and art studio in Siargao. I finished Clothing Technology in University of the Philippines Diliman that led me to various disciplines when I started to work. I used to dabble in the fashion industry (i.e. fashion buying, styling, designing) and production industry (i.e. costume designing, production designing for TV commercials/movies) in Manila while doing my Felice brand on the side.
In 2008, I took a detour from the usual work environment and decided to take on a job in the hospitality industry just because I wanted to live on an island. This has been a turning point in my life because from then on I started to align with what made me truly happy: island living.
Of course, like any other life story, there were a few bumps on the road that led me back to Manila, but I knew in my heart that I would live and settle on an island again. Now, I’m a full-time mother to my Felice girls—creating, making, managing, doing inventory, selling, everything (may I repeat: EVERYTHING) that involves the business.
I’m the youngest of five very talented and highly creative siblings, so I’ve grown up in a household where we were free to let our imaginations run wild. Wild enough to all be pursuing creative work and making a living out of it. I’ve been lucky our parents, despite our dad being a lawyer and our mom a real estate broker, have been so supportive with our choices.
HK: Can you narrate what a typical day is like on the island?
JS: The shop and studio are open from Mondays to Saturdays, from 10 am to 4 pm. I wake up early in the morning (around 6 am) and it takes me about an hour and a half to roll out of bed. At about 7:30, my husband Fabio and I are preparing breakfast, letting Punto our dog out of the apartment to play with her siblings Grigio and Whitey. We’re also looking out for the other guests in Tawin Homestay that we co-manage for a friend.
By 9 am, I’m zooming past other motorbikes and mango trees that line the main road to General Luna. By 10 am, I’m in the shop preparing for the day’s surprises. There are always surprises: a visit from a friend, a lovely tourist looking for gifts to send home, or peace and quiet for me to do some creative work. By 3:30 pm, I’m preparing snacks and materials if there’s a class for kids. We normally have gymnastics, hip-hop dance, and art classes with some kids living on the island, usually children of resort owners that are doing homeschool.
At 5 pm, I close the shop. Sometimes I head to the beach and just stare out into the horizon. Sometimes I just forget to do that and zoom back home. Fabio and I try to have early dinner by 6 pm, and then we either hang out and chat or watch a movie on his laptop before going to bed by 9 or 10.
HK: What made you ultimately decide to move to Siargao?
JS: Before graduating from university, I was already mapping out a plan to live in Siargao for six months—playing my violin every day, strolling on the beach, and contemplating life. It was a vision I had in my head and reality was far from that. I had no idea how I was going to live on the island with my college savings. Plus, there weren’t that many work opportunities then.
Felice has led me back to that vision. My work revolved around this character—adventure seeker, beach lover, island explorer. I sold some artwork then created a book and started giving watercolor workshops called Beach Day Sunday. I was even close to moving to Singapore (it is still an island!) when a good friend of mine, Pam, was coordinating weddings and had asked me to style one in El Nido then another one in Siargao. Of course I said yes.
Fabio (who was still my boyfriend then) and I flew to Siargao in September for the wedding project and we never left. By May the next year, Fabio and I got married. It was a small and beautiful wedding. Then come June, I had officially opened the first Felice shop and art studio with my partner, Tara (who is also my sister and one of my number one supporters).
My work is a reflection of my life. I tend not to compartmentalize so I make sure that what I do and what I believe in reflects that in my daily choices, like what brands to feature in the shop and what items to sell to my clients. Most of the brands are owned by friends so there is a good working relationship with all of them. I try as much as I can to make it professional when need be, but most of the time, we keep it casual and laid-back.
HK: How has island living changed you?
JS: I like who I am now. I’m more relaxed and less stressed. The environment or the natural setting makes up for the stress that comes sometimes. I’m very lucky to be here and to have this wonderful business. Felice beach shop and art studio is my sacred space and I really make an effort to cultivate good energy and good business here.
PS: We’re excited to share the news that Hey Kessy craft materials are available at Felice! We also held some craft workshops at Felice sometime last month, and we’ll post photos about them soon. If you’re a brand or shop owner outside the city who wants to collaborate with us on workshops or events, email us at email@example.com.