“You’re too young.”
“Babae ka kasi.”
Such were the remarks that Maine Uy has received throughout her journey as an entrepreneur, but that did not stop her from continuing her grind. The 25-year-old self-made businesswoman started her first project—a creative agency—back in 2013 when she was only in college. Although the agency has now run its course, Maine has been sowing seeds in the local business scene that continue to bloom and grow.
She’s the co-founder of artisanal restaurant Vagabonds, now on its fifth year, and is at the helm of her own clothing brand called Filloneah, which was launched back in 2018. Despite this ever-growing lineup of projects in her business portfolio, perhaps the most striking one is SHEeo Society, which she manages along with four other people, and it’s exactly as the name suggests.
SHEeo Society is a women-only “modern salon and club” for SHEeos (a portmanteau of “she” and “CEO”) with a three-dimensional nature.
First and foremost, it is a support system where business advice and guidance is given to its members who are either starting their own brands or looking to successfully maintain their own. This is done through masterclasses, consultation services, and informational material that are facilitated and provided by Maine and her co-founders. The masterclass explains everything an entrepreneur needs to set up a business, from branding tips to trade secrets.
Next, it is also a community that offers networking opportunites. SHEeo Society can help you look for contacts for various business aspects that range from supply chain to marketing.
Lastly, SHEeo Society is a platform where ideas are exchanged and empowerment is promoted, not only within the club itself but to the local community as a whole. All these benefits are yours for the membership fee of P5000. These fees fund year-long activities and events held by the club. They are looking to accept a maximum of 100 sign-ups this year.
It is through SHEeo Society that Maine gets to share what she’s learned from her personal struggles as a woman in the cutthroat business scene. “These struggles taught me to stand my ground and to keep coming back to my values and purpose as an entrepreneur.”
Members of the club may be united in their drive and determination, but Maine shares that they too share the same struggles as hers: “Sentiments like self-doubts, insecurity, and fear of judgments [are oftentimes obstacles to starting a business]. A lot of the entrepreneurs get cold feet when pursuing their ideas. That's when I realized that entrepreneurs—especially female entrepreneurs—need a safe space and a community that will push them towards owning their ideas.”
Ultimately, SHEeo Society is not only a community of entrepreneurs supporting each other, but is, at its heart, a movement of women empowerment that serves to inspire.
To learn more about the inner workings of this girls-only club, we caught up with Maine who gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to become a member:
How and when did SHEeo Society start? Tell us the story of the brand’s beginnings.
The SHEeo Society has been a project of mine for a really long time. It was something I conceptualized during the early stages of my now-defunct design company. Initially, I only wanted to share positivity and empowering messages to fellow SHEeos. But later on, as I continued my journey as a SHEeo myself, I met a lot of entrepreneurs who shared the same sentiments and were struggling to find their voice and space in this world. It was then that this idea of mine developed into what we now call The Society of Femmepowered SHEeos.
What were your projects like during the early stages of the company? Were they different from your present projects?
My approach to SHEeo is totally different from the way I handled past projects, like my late design company. Before, it was all about getting the job and measuring success by getting recognition and validation from others. There was no collaboration. It was just merely taking job orders, getting paid—that’s it.
With the SHEeos, it’s very refreshing. You will feel the energy of these powerful and headstrong women. Somehow, what they need is the guidance, the nudge, or that little push they need in order to launch. There’s a lot of collaboration involved. A lot of giving. And it actually feels good that we’re doing this because we want to build each other up.
How many members are currently in your club? Are you a close-knit group? How often do you meet, and what is it like to be a part of the club?
Currently, we have 20 members in our private club. We only officially launched The SHEeo Society last January with an intimate Masterclass. The Club Membership (P5000) comes with the Masterclass, but you can also avail of it separately. We try to meet every month just to keep each other posted with our progress. The goal is to be a support system or a group of friends that checks on you and the brand you created.
What’s nice about being a club member is you also get to call us any time for business advice or a friendly private consultation. So far, we have launched 4 brands from our SHEeo attendees and I believe there will be more to come!
I understand that SHEeo Society is not only a club but a “salon.” What did you have in mind when you came up with this concept? Aside from the discussions that you hold during your masterclasses, in what other ways is SHEeo Society a salon?
I was thinking about Marie Antoinette and the ladies of the French Court during her time. My key visual was, of course, Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film adaptation with all the lavish costumes and parties that encapsulated the 18th century zeitgeist. Honestly, it was all because of my curiosity and my obsession with monarchs. During that time, salons were created by women in private, away from prying eyes, just so they can discuss literature, and then share their views and opinions. Women at that time didn’t have access to education and were not empowered.
A year ago, in an interior design class, we were tasked to sculpt a scale model of a place where we find peace and comfort. There, I created a tea room. A salon to be exact. I sculpted a modern salon where SHEeos can wear their hair down, come from honesty, talk about their passions, drink their beverage of choice without getting judged or being labeled as too much.
Fast forward to today, The SHEeo Society was established for the same purpose, but better. We not only listen and share insights but push each other to embrace our full potential, act on our goals and visions, and own our well-deserved success.
How do you come up with the content for your projects like the Tell-All Handbook and the Clarity Pack?
From the heart and from within. Honestly, creating the content for the Tell-All Handbook and the Clarity Pack has been very fulfilling because I’m no longer holding back. My intent is to encourage ladies like me to come out of their shells and embrace who they are. My Handbook is a collection of all my strategies and all my learnings from years of being in business. I wanted SHEeos to skip the unnecessary routes to success and just focus on the essentials.
The Clarity Pack, on the other hand, is an expanded version of the prompts I ask my SHEeos to do prior to the Masterclass. Achieving clarity is the first step towards owning success because you strip yourself down and realize who you are as a person and as a SHEeo.
What are some examples of prompts in the Clarity Pack?
The Clarity Pack aims to make business ideas known to the SHEeo. It simply allows SHEeos to realize their strengths, interests, values, and passions that will fuel them to create their own brand. One of the prompts includes a Slam Book. I was inspired by the innocence of this old-school thing that was passed around the classroom. With questions that ask about your favorite singer, color, or food, it is a simple way to really get to know yourself and understand what influences you. It’s an idea generator and a great tool to achieve self-clarity.
You mentioned that your club is not only a place of learning but a place where you help each other out. Do you remember any specific moments wherein the club helped a member out? What was the problem that needed to be overcome and how did the club help to solve it?
One memorable experience was launching Hiraya Jewelry (@hirayajewelry) after the Masterclass. Shelly Macatangay, the SHEeo behind this, also happens to be my good friend, and is passionate about jewelry. You can always see her wearing gorgeous gold, silver, and diamond pieces. She wanted to establish a brand that was close to her passions for jewelry. But the challenge was that she didn’t know where and how to source such beautiful well-made jewelry.
With the idea ready for launch, the SHEeos came into the picture when Lerizze Dizon, the SHEeo behind Pyur Tea (@pyur.ph), connected her with a fine jewelry artisan. It was such a casual thing and came from pure intent to help. Lerizze introduced Shelly to her friend for her merchandise, and we helped in giving feedback with the art direction, and the rest was history!
What kind of businesses do your members usually put up?
We take pride in the quality of SHEeos we have in the club. A good number of our SHEeos are into retail like fashion, accessories, bags, and shoes. We also have service-oriented SHEeos tapping into financial security, design, marketing, accounting, and legal services. We have SHEeos operating spaces like restaurants and fitness gyms. There are also SHEeos involved in the food and beverage industry like baking and catering services. Everyone is really welcome, as long as they are passionate about what they do and [strive] for success.
Why do you think it’s important to have an entrepreneurial support system?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”—Friedrich Nietzsche
Being a SHEeo at such a young age taught me so much about having a quality entrepreneurial support system. When I started, I didn’t have one because it was difficult to find my own group. As an entrepreneur, some people can judge you as being “too ambitious.” But with the right people, you’re a beacon. It’s important to find your own tribe that you vibe with. To do that, you have to radiate with positive energy backed by your values and passions. You will attract them and then they will build you up.
If you could only give one piece of advice for aspiring SHEeos, what would that be?
A path is made by walking on it. And the path to success starts with you. Be bold enough to show the world what you can do and keep doing it.
What are your future plans for SHEeo Society?
This year we’re focused on growing our community, hosting more Tell-All Masterclasses nationwide, and launching more SHEeos who embrace their success. It’s important that we attain these achievable goals first. We also aim to finally build and establish a modern salon that seems to be the source and inspiration for The SHEeo Society. The venue will not only act as our physical headquarters, but also as a safe space for women entrepreneurs to work, gather, and celebrate our collective success.