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Everything You Need to Know About the Business of Fashion

From passion to online success—take it from these young entrepreneurs.

There’s a saying that goes: there’s always two sides of a story. Case in point, fashion—it’s an art, at the same time, a business. We’ve seen a lot of brands rise and fall, and it may have got you wondering: what does it really take to get into the business of fashion retail? Let the stories of these girls, who took the risk to expand borders online, give you ideas to ponder on and inspire you to ignite your passion and take it to success.



Owners: An and En Estrada

What’s your story? Tell us how your passion for fashion retail was fueled?

It’s funny because we were never really trained for retail or merchandising. We had to learn everything on our own, it was a trial and error thing. Everything is still a learning process for us. We tried so many things that didn't work but we learned a lot from our mistakes.

What made you decide to put up an online store?

We’ve always wanted to put up a swimwear brand because of our love for the beach. At that time, there wasn’t any local store offering chic rash guards and surf suits. So we started with four rash guards and full suits designed for the active woman. Float is for the modern and active woman. We love trends but we always put a classic spin to it. Also, our suits have built in UPF 50+ too (like SPF for fabric!).

Any tips for those who plan to put up an online store? 

Dream big. Always.



Owner: Bem Lim

What’s your story? Tell us how your passion for fashion retail was fueled?

My sister and I love to travel. We love how the whole experience exposes you to the unknowing and the experience is rich. We noticed that existing travel items in the market are too upscale or too serious which takes out the essence of traveling. We know that travel is for everyone and we want to share the experience of having fun and functional things during trips. 

What problems have you encountered as you were putting up your online store? How did you overcome these hurdles?

Wow, our website development was such a challenge. We ended up hiring a scammer who would offer packages under false pretense. To fix that, we hired another one who was equally unprofessional. We also ended up hiring night companies, who wouldn't finish the work after you pay the down payment. For some developers, if you don't get monthly maintenance package, they would intentionally leave bugs in your online site. In the end, we decided to get Shopify, which has great customer service and allowed us to finish our site in just one week. 

 Any tips for those who plan to put up an online store? 

Choose your web developer wisely. Ask around and read about it. Make sure you have basic understanding before you meet with the right developer. 



Owners: Tina and Regina Sambalido


What made you decide to put up an online store?

We started Renegade Folk back in 2007 when all of us were still in school. We had no plans of putting up a store much more a full blown business – we just wanted to let people know that they can wear unique, good-looking shoes without spending so much.

During that time, everyone was on Multiply so it was the easiest and cheapest platform to introduce our brand.

What’s your brand philosophy/aesthetics?

We named our brand ‘Renegade Folk’ because we believe that everyone can be different while still fitting in. This guides our design philosophy as well. When we first started, our designs were more liberal and out there but through the years we discovered that in order for our shoes to be worn everyday and for a long time, there should be a balance between being basic and having a touch of personality.

What problems have you encountered as you were putting up your online store? How did you overcome these hurdles?

A lot! Mostly operational problems. We didn’t realize how much work there is in running a store – customer service, inventory management, processing of payments, packing, shipping, returns and exchanges, making sure our website content is always updated and fresh.

We were doing everything on the fly when we started – we had no set systems, procedures or policies. But we learned that in order to keep afloat with all our to do’s–we must be organized and set some basic systems in place. We also automated those that can be automated so as to lessen busy work–this allowed us to focus on more important things.



Owners: Debbie Lupango and Bea de Jesus

What made you decide to put up an online store?

Having an online store is sort of like a passion project for us. It’s a great space to learn and be creative, and it’s what makes sense to us the most, since we both have full time jobs (Bea is a freelance graphic designer, while Debbie is a buyer and visual merchandiser for Shelter Home & Design). It’s also the fastest and most practical way to get our brand and product out there without having high overhead costs and demanding too much time from us.

Who were your first clients/customers? How do you take care of your loyal customers now?

Our first clients would have to be people within our circle. From there, more and more people found out about our brand through word-of-mouth and social media shares. Our biggest sales definitely come from our loyal customers. The good thing about handling the store ourselves is that every transaction is personal, we are able to communicate with them directly. Loyal customers also tend to message us directly through SMS, and we take care of them by always being as accommodating as we can. We try not to be so “by the book” with processes and requests. It’s very important to build relationships.

Any tips for those who plan to put up an online store?

Top tip would be to just jump into it and not be afraid to start. The main upside of having an online store is, lower overhead costs, which gives you more room for error. Also, e-commerce platforms make the job way easier. We find that Shopify is pretty complete in this area. It’s specific to e-commerce, so they know their stuff - inventory management, order tracking, etc. have already been thought out, so it’s way less work for us. Another thing is to always put yourself in the position of the customer. We are still learning, and it’s a continuous process for us too, but trying to be detail oriented and thinking about how a customer would want to interact with your website, translates to how your products are photographed and how your website is setup, and in the end translates to sales.  


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This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Globe myBusiness.