Whoever said there’s ‘no future’ in art-related passions? Well, Erin Cervanez is here to totally debunk that myth. You’ve probably seen her crocheted creations on stars like BINI and Nadine Lustre!
Coming from the traditional Filipino mindset, we were constantly bombarded with the notion that hobbies are primarily intended for leisure—like another way to de-stress after a grueling workweek of grinding. But this whole concept painted a big ‘X’ on art-related passions, implying that they were burning money. Gen Z is here to prove that this age-old sentiment is not a universal truth.
Meet Erin Cervanez, an exceptional Filipina fiber artist who has proven that passions combined with art are boundless. If her name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s behind mmelc, the brand behind that viral crochet butterfly tops. This 21-year old has taken the art of crocheting—a craft often seen as a chill pastime—and turned it into a thriving small business. You’ve probably seen her crocheted creations on TV screens, worn by your favorite celebrities, content creators, and girl groups. Get to know her and her craft in our interview below.
I’m Erin Cervanez, a 21-year-old Filipina fiber artist. I am the creative mind behind my own brand, mmelc. Within my small startup, I specialize in the art of crocheting and knitting, weaving together threads for handmade pieces.
How did you get into the art and business of weaving threads together?
As a crafty kid who got her hands on loombands (the nostalgia! hahaha), I found myself enjoying the slow process of creating. It was almost a decade ago, and it’s also around that time when my Aunt (shoutout to you, Mommy Yeye) brought home the first crochet hooks and yarn that I own. I still have them with me, proving the longevity of crochet.
I’m self-taught; I started with online tutorials for basic techniques and then found free patterns for cute items. After that, I freehanded almost everything I crocheted. I stopped when I reached high school because it wasn’t considered a ‘cool’ hobby back then. It was associated with grandmas on television, doing it in their rocking chairs. I just left the materials under my drawer and never got rid of them.
After years, when the pandemic hit, I decided to get back into the hobby. The world was on pause, and I remembered how therapeutic crocheting is. I started creating again, but this time I shared it on my small platforms. Crochet wasn’t very popular in our generation during those times, but I received great feedback! With less than a P1k allowance, I invested in more yarn and started a page for my creations, turning it into a small business. That’s the foundation of where I am right now. Everything started from there, and I’m eternally grateful.
What’s the concept behind your business?
mmelc.ph is a pandemic baby. It was born from the ‘what if’ of a 17-year-old. We started with a one-woman team and have since grown to include student crocheters working with us. We specialize in selling garments made from knitted and crocheted textiles, with the majority of designs originating from my creative mind. We also cater to fellow crocheters by offering patterns for some of our designs. Patterns are essentially written tutorials on how to create specific items. mmelc.ph is a brand that emerged from a simple desire to share art. Today, it’s more than just a business; it’s a tradition and a lifestyle.
What was your biggest break?
It was way back in 2021 when we shared our own version of the crochet butterfly top. This beautiful gradient top features our outline that mimics butterfly wings. It became a global sensation, with orders pouring in from four corners of the globe. Not to mention the ongoing issue of our product pictures being stolen and shared without permission. Regardless, this design inspired numerous crocheters to create their own versions and even receive commissions for this handmade piece. It remains one of my most memorable breakthroughs.
When you’re creating countless looks for personalities, which project was your favorite and what was the experience like?
Catering to stars comes with its own set of hardships. We are a slow fashion brand, often working on rush orders to meet high demands, but BINI remains one of my favorite projects. I’m a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and supporting local artists. BINI is a group of incredibly talented women, and when Ica Villanueva, their stylist, approached mmelc.ph to create crochet pieces for them, I felt truly honored.
It was surreal to be part of performances I had only observed from a distance. My team and I crafted these pink crochet and knitted pieces for them, even giving birth to new looks. It was an iconic moment.
What was the inspiration behind the look?
While we had creative freedom for some pieces, BINI’s pink look inspiration was provided by their incredible stylist, Ica Villanueva. We carefully craft pieces based on stylist’s pegs and then witnessing them in action on stage or in photo shoots.
How did it feel when you started seeing your works on big platforms?
The excitement never stops. From creating the garments to today, even those around me unconsciously remind us of that moment. It still feels dreamlike, and I cherish these moments. One of my goals is to elevate wearable crochet to the level of clothing we see everywhere, whether it’s everyday wear or pieces for specific shoots and events. Collaborating with celebrities gives me hope that we can bring about this change with the help of their influence. Gratitude always remains at the forefront. Of course, it all boils down to the fangirl in me who never thought we would get this far.
What is your creative process like?
When I conceive a design, I sketch it right away. Visualizing everything is essential, and I learned this the hard way. Trust me, I’ve had numerous designs that went nowhere because I forgot about them. And when I create eyeballed and freehand pieces, I think of designs I’d personally love to wear—ones I’ve never seen before but believe are achievable. It could be something as simple as a tank top in my favorite color or a detailed dress with textured stitches.
I try to crochet every day, but I don’t pressure myself. Despite the prevalence of fast fashion, I remind myself that I have my own pace, my handmade art, and I’m not a factory. Also, a lot of iced coffee, tea, and pain relief patches – haha.
Could you share tips for anyone who wants to get into the business?
Starting a crochet business is a lesson rooted in experience. You’ll never know what it can become if you don’t give it a chance. Monetizing your hobby involves risk, but remember, you can always pivot or step back. Launching a small business means you become your own boss, so if it works out, you’ll look back with no regrets.
While many people have small businesses nowadays, don’t view them as competition. It’s easy to lose self-confidence when you constantly compare yourself to others. Set a goal and stay focused on it. No matter how many times you feel like giving up, you can adjust your approach, but never abandon the goal.
We have a wealth of learning resources available now, as almost everyone is engaged in e-commerce. This is the time to dream big. Keep creating, keep posting, and happy crocheting!
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