A globetrotting creative director took some time to teach us a little bit about what it really means to multi-task...
MONOGRAM: List your name, profession, and place of residence:
MARTINE HO. Creative Director. Manila, Philippines and Melbourne, Australia.
MONOGRAM: First off, congratulations on your pregnancy! That’s such exciting news. If you’re anything like us, you might also describe your business as your baby. Can you tell us a little bit about Sunnies and how you got started?
MARTINE: I couldn’t agree more — I have always said Sunnies is my first baby. As I've heard from my friends that are parents, having a baby absolutely turns your world upside down and no words can really prepare you for what you're in for. You just live through it and experience and learn. And I can definitely vouch how that has been my experience with starting and managing a business.
So, let me try to summarize the past 6 years of my life. We started Sunnies in 2014 when my cousin Georgina and two friends Bea and Eric asked if I’d be interested in coming on board as a creative director for an eyewear line in the Philippines. Everything just had this amazing chi and it felt right, so I moved out of Los Angeles and we launched the brand. Then we launched a series of Sunnies Cafes nationwide. In 2018, we launched a beauty line with Sunnies Face. I’ve basically been on a treadmill for 6 years and it’s been exhilarating, challenging as hell, and deeply fulfilling to create products that people really love.
MONOGRAM: The path that you’ve taken to develop your brand feels creative and unexpected. How or why did you make the jump from the optical world to cafes to beauty and even and a pop-up hotel! How do you decide what’s coming next?
MARTINE: Everything we do is a mix of intuition and also dialogue between our audience. Sunnies Cafe started as a dream because the Philippines really lacked an exciting brunch scene and people were asking for it. With Sunnies Face, we found so many people were constantly inquiring about what lipstick we used in our campaigns and on ourselves personally — and we never had a solid answer because we'd mix 10 different colors to get to the color I was envisioning. We found that no beauty brand really catered to the specific colors we were looking for so we launched our edit of the 9 most perfect lip colors with our Fluffmatte lipstick.
MONOGRAM: We can assume you’re constantly traveling. Any special travel tips you’d like to share?
MARTINE: We have over 180 stores between all the brands within the Philippines and Vietnam. More countries soon! My travel tips are taking the time to analyze yourself as a traveler so that you can prioritize what makes you feel at ease and happiest.
MONOGRAM: How do you balance the creative process with your day-to-day managerial duties?
MARTINE: Life’s challenges! There’s really no secret other than working with amazing people. That’s the only way to actually get stuff done. And I'm so fortunate to work with some of the best talent in the Philippines and internationally as well.
MONOGRAM: Were you originally born here in the LA area then moved to Manilla after college? What’s the best part of living in the Philippines, and what do you miss about the US?
MARTINE: I was actually born in Manila and spent my early childhood years in Hong Kong and New Delhi then grew up mostly in Orange County. I then moved to LA for work in my early 20s (used to work in the creative offices at American Apparel, which back then was truly an incubator for young creatives). I moved to Manila 6 years ago. I also split my time living partly in Melbourne as my husband lives there. The best part about the Philippines is getting to be with my family — and what I miss most about the US, specifically LA, is the abundance of healthy food options.
MONOGRAM: Your home has such an incredible assortment of objects and a very dreamy pastel palette. How does interior design inform your creativity?
MARTINE: I have always been such a visual person, so I needed my space to reflect that. It is such a pleasure for me to find objects and furniture from around the world and place them in the perfect spots in my home. Every piece reminds me of a memory.
MONOGRAM: Do you have a favorite vintage graphic t-shirt? How and when did you acquire it?
MARTINE: I have a t-shirt I bought in Rome when I was in 8th grade of a manga character named Lupin. I have never been able to throw it out for some reason and when I met my husband, he reminded me of him, so I designed our wedding invites to look like a Lupin cartoon.
MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?
MARTINE: Well, I’m 6 months pregnant now, so the real answer is with any bottoms that will fit me!
MONOGRAM: Lightening round: describe yourself in terms of the following:
LOCATION: Palm Springs
OBJECT: Cashmere blanket
BEVERAGE: Hot water with lemon
VEHICLE: Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
RITUAL: Wearing a silk eye mask to bed
TAGLINE: To ask permission is to seek denial
PHOTOGRAPHY: Renzo Navarro