Sometimes, you need to take fate into your own hands and cut out the middlemen. That’s the case with Freedom Print Lab, which is run by a few Filipino streetwear heads who were finished waiting for other people to get anything done. “We got tired of relying on outside printing suppliers and their schedules,” says co-owner Zei Tacasa. “So we were basically just like, fuck this, and started our own thing.” Now they run a busy silkscreen shop supplying a host of local brands.
It took a few difficult months before gaining a foothold, but then everything fell into place. “One day we just walked by a ‘for rent’ sign, and it was a wrap,” Tacasa laughs. “We signed the lease two days later, and it’s been nine months now.” He owns Freedom alongside Mikki Dela Rea and Finney Mann. Tacasa and Mann are also co-owners at local streetwear label Nobody, which has its headquarters right around the corner at Cubao Expo. In addition to printing for their own labels (Mann has another brand called Sleek Shy, and Dela Rea runs The Twelfth House), they’ve built a pretty impressive roster for only being in existence nine months. Clients include the likes of Commonwealth, THE, KLTRD, and many, many more. [Full disclosure, Honeycomb is a part of that long list as well.] “We found a pretty niche market, and, well, it keeps the lights on! We’re not losing any money.”
All these connected brands make Freedom Print Lab something of a central hub in the local scene. But they’re also part of a new wave of DIY print shops around the Philippines. “Supplies in the Philippines were very hard to get and expensive until about five years ago,” Mann explains. “But you don’t need much space at all, you just need the will to learn. All it took for us was some Youtube videos and access to supplies, which we’ve got now. A lot of people are getting into it.”