Sam Tangco, Robyn See, and Erica Dee share their passion for dance and movement, and beyond that, fashion and entrepreneurship. Together, they came up with Bondi Studios, an online shop catering to stylish women who are into trendy accessories and bags. Their shop’s name, Bondi, was derived from “an Aboriginal word that means ‘water breaking over rocks’ or ‘noise of water breaking over rocks.’” They hope that their pieces also “represent calmness and serenity; be pleasing to look at, and to be simply timeless.”
Below, we got a chance to catch up with the trio behind Bondi Studios. Get to know more about their brand below.
What is the concept behind Bondi Studios? Where did the name come from?
"The name of our brand came from Australia’s famous Bondi Beach. While many people associate the word 'Bondi' with the beach itself, we wanted the brand name to mainly represent the high fashion the location is well-known for; at the same time, the laid-back and leisurely lifestyle locals and vacationers parade during their coastal walks. We wanted to create staple pieces that embody that exact way of life—essentials perfect for casual waterfront strolls or everyday accessorizing."
Who designs your clips and bags? Please describe your overall aesthetic.
“Coming up with designs for the items is a team effort. It is important that we have specific roles in running the business, but each one’s input regarding design is relevant. That way, we always find a marriage of all our unique tastes in fashion, color palettes, and accessories. Our overall aesthetic is girly and flirty, playful, yet classy. From the beaded top-handle clutch trend of the conservative 1950s, to the neon-colored plastic bag of the groovy '70s, the trend has definitely made its way to the very versatile 21st century. With this, we see our brand to be charmingly classic and timeless.”
What kind of materials do you use in producing your items?
"Our first collection focused mainly on the use of beads of different colors and kinds— acrylic, matte, smoked, pearls, etcetera. We do hope to release our next line, that will showcase acrylic bags and other accessories in the very near future."
What made you decide to pursue using these materials?
"One day, we just came across a group of women that craft beaded accessories for a living. We were intrigued with how they were so talented and passionate—making beaded party giveaways, such as Hello Kitty and Pokemon characters. We thought that the best way to help them was to involve them in the process of making our dream brand finally come to life. That way, our relationship with our manufacturers and suppliers is seen to be less transactional, and more transformational."
How did you start your business and who are its founders? Could you tell us something about yourselves?
"We go way back! Coming from the same elementary and high school, the three of us have been good friends for about 11 years now. With a shared love for dance, we originally met at our Alma Mater’s dance club, and later realized that we have so much more in common, other than moving and grooving. Landing in the same university, our collective interest for fashion and entrepreneurship, coupled with our own unique skills and exposure to all sorts of people brought us together to launch Bondi Studios."
Sam Tangco co-owns an events planning company called STR Event and Marketing Communications. In this line of work, Sam says, “I have dealt with so many different clients, all with unique preferences and styles of communication. I think that is why I have learned to be resourceful and flexible, more than anything else. I always value what my clients want and deliver services to the best of my ability. After three years, I have also gained a ton of PR skills and even basic graphic design!”
Robyn See, meanwhile, is the the founder and owner of UNDA Swimwear which she single-handedly launched on her own. She says that her experience in managing her own swimsuit brand has taught her "mostly about operations management—seeking the lowest cost suppliers, keeping up with market trends, manufacturing, and handling logistics. Along with all that, came the importance of marketing products, which I can proudly say, have gotten better at over the years. That actually forced me to acquire basic photography and Photoshop skills.”
Erica Dee's family has dabbled into food and retail, thus, she has seen the ins and outs, as well as “learned the dirty works of running a business.Thankfully, I always had their support in my endeavors to launch my own and carry on the legacy of successful business moguls as I continue to develop my own craft. From them, I gained significant insight on branding strategy, the building ofunique concepts and even operations management and various financial activities.”
Who do you have in mind when you create your pieces? Describe the ideal Bondi Studios girl.
“She is fearless. Upon the conceptualization of the brand, women we had in mind were Martine Cajucom, Lovi Poe, Solenn Heusaff, and Catriona Gray. All of whom exude a certain type of confidence our girls ought to be—strong, talented, influential, you name it. Bondi Studios was designed to cater to the modern woman who is versatile and spontaneous, values style, and is not afraid to break trends to start her own.”
What are your brand's greatest strengths? What sets you apart from other stores?
"There had always been something so utterly charming about locally handcrafted goods. With Bondi Studios, we make sure that our pieces are staple, and cannot be found anywhere else. Although we are not the pioneer for beaded bags in the market, we believe that we are one of the first and very few online stores in the Philippines that carries them. Because our brand is rooted in the idea of women empowerment, from the initial manufacturing phases with our nanays playing a huge role in our business, until the products reach the palms of our loved Bondi Girls, we do not merely sell products, we tell stories. Stories of women who need to support their families, women who love the outdoors—beaches and whatnot, women who take time each day for casual coffee runs, women who adapt to trends in the world of couture and fashion, and women who simply love to live life."
What about its weaknesses? How are you able to overcome these?
"The only disadvantage we acknowledge is that handmade products do take a while to create and perfect. On an average, one bag would take three to four days to finish, hence the limited amount of units we produce within a certain period of time. Another factor we have to deal with during the production of handcrafted goods is consistency. It is rather difficult for us to avoid discrepancies with beading. However, instead of seeing them as mistakes or flaws, we’d like to believe it adds much to the character of the bag or accessory, ones that are unique to each of the creators."
Where do you see your brand in the coming years? What should we expect from Bondi in the future?
"We cannot avoid meticulous shoppers. Because our products are handmade and very detailed, we would like to set up a physical store for those who would like to get a perfect feel of their desired items. That way, we will get to dodge vague online inquiries, returns and exchanges, thus reaching optimal client satisfaction. This can only be done once we have completely expanded (having more products on hand). Eventually, we would also like to venture out and explore the creation of new products, besides bags and clips. Just like any other business, we hope to represent local craftsmanship and taste in the global market for these items. With vigorous social media marketing and the future launch of our own website, we hope to collaborate with different artists all over the world to be able to generate greater artistic and consumer insight."