In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Liza Morales (Ecotecture Design Studio)
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/brand about?
I am Liza Morales, the Founder and Creative Director of Ecotecture Design Studio, a design firm that emphasizes the integration of environmental considerations into architectural design. The goal is to create buildings and spaces that are not only functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also ecologically sustainable and environmentally responsible.
Ecotecture Design Studio employs various techniques and strategies to achieve this, such as using renewable energy sources, incorporating green roofs or walls, using sustainable building materials, designing for passive heating and cooling, and optimizing natural lighting and ventilation. To me, responsibility in design is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, as we face pressing environmental challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.
What got you started on your business?
As a third-generation member of a family involved in the construction business, it was almost natural for me to pursue architecture as a career. The blending of technical and creative aspects within the field has always excited me. However, it wasn’t until I became a parent that I truly felt the calling to focus on sustainable design. The desire to leave behind a better world and a legacy I could be proud of became a top priority for me. It’s a driving force that has pushed me to pursue innovative ways to incorporate environmentally friendly and energy-efficient design elements into my work.
However, with the limited availability of sustainable options, it is often challenging to design buildings that are truly environmentally friendly without the proper materials or interventions. This realisation was not a reason to give up on my passion, but rather a call to action. As a result, I took the bold step of venturing into entrepreneurship to offer options in this aspect.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
In 1998, I made the decision to move to New York to pursue my graduate studies. It was a big decision for me, as I had never lived in a foreign country before. However, I knew that it was something I needed to do in order to broaden my horizons and advance my career in architecture. After graduating, I was fortunate enough to land a job as a project architect. One of the avenues that I explored was sustainability, which made me more conscious of my role in the built environment.
At the time, sustainability was still in its infancy, and relatively unheard of in most parts of Asia. However, working in New York gave me exposure to a more progressive and environmentally-conscious approach to architecture. I was able to learn about different sustainable building practices and technologies, and I became increasingly interested in incorporating these principles into my own work. As I continued to work in the field, I became more passionate about sustainability and its potential to create more liveable, healthy, and environmentally-friendly spaces.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
Architecture in the Philippines has traditionally been a male-dominated field, with women often being underrepresented in classrooms and workplaces. Even in modern times, gender inequality in architecture persists, as evidenced by the significant divide between male and female students in schools.
One of the reasons is the difference in training that men and women receive prior to attending architecture school. Men often have more opportunities to develop their skills in areas such as drafting and freehand drawing, which are essential in architecture. Meanwhile, preparatory schools for women did not prioritise architecture as a viable career option, leaving women at a disadvantage in terms of training and preparation.
As such, while I was in university, it took me significantly longer to understand such concepts as I had not been equipped with the relevant knowledge prior. I had to work twice as hard as my male classmates to catch up on the syllabus.
Additionally, when I was in New York, I struggled with racial and gender discrimination on occasion. But this made me a much stronger person, from this experience I was able to develop grit and resilience. I just shifted my mindset to focusing on what I have set out to accomplish and blocking out all the negativity.
What excites you most about your industry?
The field of architecture has undergone a remarkable evolution in the past three decades. With the advent of new technologies, architects have gained access to powerful tools and resources that have transformed the way they approach their work. In recent years, the rise of 3D printing has been a game-changer for architects. This technology has allowed designers to create physical models of their designs quickly and cost-effectively, enabling them to iterate and refine their concepts more efficiently.
As new technologies and products continue to emerge, the possibilities for architects are seemingly endless. From virtual reality to advanced materials and sustainability solutions, architects are constantly seeking out new tools and techniques to push the boundaries of their craft.
Overall, the evolution of the architecture profession over the past 30 years has been exciting and transformative. With each development, architects are able to create more innovative and sustainable designs that can positively impact the built environment and the people who inhabit it. As the field continues to evolve, it’s clear that the best is yet to come.
What is your vision / personal motto?
“Leave the world better than you found it.”
This is not only a noble aspiration but a driving force in shaping the decisions and actions we take in our lives. As someone who deeply believes in this mantra, I strive to make a positive impact on the world around me in every way I can.
In both my personal and career decisions, I always ask myself, “Is this going to improve the lives of many? Is this going to help make the world a better place?” For me, it’s not just about achieving personal success or wealth, but making a tangible difference in the world, no matter how small or big. It’s essential to me that my work has a greater purpose beyond myself, and I believe that this mindset is what drives me to succeed and make a difference.
Beyond my career, I also make a conscious effort to make a positive impact on the world in my personal life. This includes living sustainably, supporting causes that align with my values, and practising kindness and empathy towards others. By asking myself if my actions are going to improve the lives of many and help make the world a better place, I strive to make a positive impact on the world in every way I can, both big and small.
Do you have any words of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Build a support system: Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your goals. Having a strong support system can provide encouragement, advice, and accountability as you work towards your goals.
Take calculated risks: Starting a business or pursuing a dream often involves taking risks, but it’s important to approach these risks thoughtfully and strategically. Do your research, weigh the pros and cons, and make informed decisions that align with your goals and values.
Learn from failures and setbacks: Failure is a natural part of any journey, but it’s important to view setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Instead of giving up when things don’t go as planned, use these experiences to refine your approach and build resilience.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
I think women should embrace what differentiates them from men and not try to be like men. All the traits that were deemed negative can be seen as an advantage. For example, women have typically been described as being emotional, and seen under a different lens, this could be a means of exhibiting empathy.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Self-care is important to feeling more confident and empowered. This could involve taking breaks when needed, engaging in activities that you enjoy, and taking care of your physical and mental health. Seek a therapist if you must, or hang out with supportive friends.
Mentoring can be a powerful way to develop skills, build confidence, and pursue your goals. This could involve connecting with more experienced mentors who can offer guidance and support.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I am grateful for the strong support system that has been instrumental in my personal and professional growth. I have had the privilege of being a part of incredible peer groups and business organizations that have provided me with endless opportunities for growth and learning. I have met people who have become mentors, collaborators, and lifelong friends. They have encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, pursue new challenges, and take calculated risks. I have been able to learn from their experiences, gain valuable insights, and apply them to my own life and career.
Equally important in my support system are my family and close friends, who have been my pillars of strength through thick and thin. They have celebrated my victories with me, provided a listening ear when I needed it most, and offered a shoulder to lean on during difficult times.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
One of my favourite ways to relax is by travelling and immersing myself in new cultures and experiences. Whether I’m wandering through the streets of a bustling city, or taking a leisurely hike through a scenic mountain range, I find that there is always something new and exciting to discover when I’m on the go.
Along with travelling, I also enjoy trying out new restaurants and cuisines. For me, there’s something deeply satisfying about savouring a delicious meal and sharing that experience with others. Whether it’s sampling exotic flavours or discovering hidden gems in my own hometown, I find that there is always something new and exciting to discover when it comes to food.
Finally, reading books is another passion of mine that helps me unwind and recharge. I find that reading is not only a great way to relax, but it’s also a powerful tool for learning and personal growth. Through books, I’ve been able to explore new ideas, gain new perspectives, and connect with people and cultures from all around the world.
Let us know more about what you do!
At Ecotecture Design Studio, we are passionate about creating spaces that are not only beautiful but also environmentally conscious and energy-efficient. Our portfolio includes commercial, residential, and public spaces that positively impact the environment and the people who use them.
You may also find us featured on CNN (Leading Women), Real Living Philippines, Rappler, Entrepreneur Philippines, and Tatler Philippines.
Connect with Ecotecture Design Studio!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
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