For the Go Negosyo sa Radyo (GNSR) episode aired last February 3, 2017, regular hosts Sen. Bam Aquino and DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla were joined by two of Philippine fashion’s revolutionary fashion entrepreneurs Delby Bragais and Pamela Mejia.
Our first guest was internationally renowned fashion designer, Certified Image Professional, and Go Negosyo Inspiring Filipina Awardee, Ms. Delby Bragais. During the show Bragais shared about her story of perseverance. When she was starting out, she remembered selling her first product for only 250 pesos. Today, her designs reach six-digit figures and are the focal pieces of editorials and international fashion shows.
“You have to open yourself up to possibilities,” Bragais said. At the start of her venture into fashion, she shared that she didn’t know anything and anyone. What contributed significantly to the development of her business was joining associations and being connected with other designers. The environment of mentorship and support proved to be an invaluable resource to the Delby Bragais’ brand.
Our second guest was Youth Entrepreneurship Development Workshop (YEDW) fellow, Pamela Mejia. Mejia’s brand Phinix is a start-up fashion social enterprise that collects textile wastes and upcycles them into shoes and accessories. Mejia shared that while fashion and entrepreneurship was something she delved into at an early age (she started selling t-shirts to her classmate when she was in high school) it wasn’t the path she was supposed to pursue full-time. With only a year left before Mejia was supposed to graduate from pre-med, she decided to transfer to UP Diliman to pursue fashion technology.
Her concept for Phinix only emerged fairly recently — frustrations with fashion entrepreneurship being looked down upon as compared to their health or education counterpart propelled Mejia to take one of the industry’s biggest problems head-on: its monumental waste rates.
“Fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world,” Mejia exclaimed. “Here in the Philippines, we don’t have a textile recycling industry.”
With Phinix being Mejia’s fifth fashion enterprise, she wants other aspiring fashion entrepreneurs to know that in the competitive fashion industry, you have to know where to draw inspiration from. For Mejia, it’s her advocacy for an eco-friendly fashion industry while for Bragais, it’s her pride and confidence in the potential of the Philippines’ for creative enterprises.
“Sadyang malikhain tayo. I wish that there would be more institutions that would support the creative business industry,” Bragias said.
Mejia shared Bragais sentiments and added that she had to join competitions abroad to receive support for her project.
Even though the fashion industry is a tough and competitive one, the two designers share that it is not impossible to succeed in it. Here are 3 important takeaways from Delby Bragais and Pamela Mejia for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs.
1) Invest in both creativity and management
In Bragais’ opinion, if you don’t have the background in business to back your creativity up, you will not be able to move your product. Creativity is important in creating good designs but not knowing how to staff your business, how to sell you products, will leave your brand behind in this very competitive industry.
2) Develop an eye for good design
Mejia tells other aspiring fashion entrepreneurs not to be discouraged if they aren’t the best in fashion illustration or sewing. She says that as long as you have a good eye for design you can go far (and you can always hire a designer or mananahi to execute your ideas!)
3) Tell the story of your brand/design
Bragais shares that when foreigners would be interested in her designs she would always share how a piece is handwoven or sourced from local communities in the Philippines. Telling the story of how your design came to be could actually convince potential buyers to pay a hefty sum for your design. For Mejia, telling her customer’s about the advocacy of Phinix opens people up to the idea of upcycling and eventually become supporters of her brand.