When you already have so many responsibilities, how do you begin to pursue your dreams? Entering the sphere of entrepreneurship is a harrowing undertaking, and it's made even more difficult when you don't have the experience or the theoretical knowledge to help you get your ducks in a row.
18-year-old Cleo Loque proved otherwise when she launched Hiraya Pilipina, an advocacy brand established in 2019, all while she juggled school and content creation with business management, at the tender age of 15.
“I was only starting Grade 11 back then when I was told that I had a way with words,” Cleo shared with Preview on how she thought of starting her business. “I knew how impactful words are, and so I decided to release our very first collection of statement tees. They were all just plain white shirts with a simple text with words that made an impact on me.”
From then on, Hiraya Pilipina became a go-to lifestyle and advocacy brand that ceaselessly champions women empowerment and other passionate initiatives. Through wearing these inspiring statement shirts, they hope to be a motivator and a reminder to women to take up space, embrace themselves, and speak their minds.
What put them on the map for many was their “Abante, Babae!” collection, which was launched back in 2020. Iconic pieces such as the “NOT MARIA CLARA” (P450) and the “Abante, Babae” (P499) shirts acted as powerful clapbacks, defying the famed Maria Clara image that confines Filipino women to a demure and docile personality type.
Cleo had built her online shop with a P20,000 capital with much gusto and passion. The self-made entrepreneur admittedly said that it was tough [and it still is] to navigate through the waters of business as she lacked the wisdom often derived from years of experience. “Seek knowledge in any way you can,” Cleo advises. “Feed your mind with powerful information through books, podcasts, and even free webinars. Go out of your way to meet a mentor. Even if learning from experience is unmatched, I try to protect myself and my business with the knowledge that comes from these learning materials.”
Like any other entrepreneur, she continues to face challenges three years into establishing her store. “I believe that starting Hiraya Pilipina was already the easiest part because maintaining and growing a business is much more difficult,” Cleo expressed. “One of our recent hurdles is in fulfillment and logistics. Due to the explosive demand yet lack of manpower as a start-up, there were numerous cancellation of orders as we failed to ship the orders on time.”
According to the Hiraya founder, she and her team had to be innovative most of the time when doing damage control, especially when it came to ensuring the quality of the items.
After gaining more numbers in their following and community, the brand made sure to progress and move forward by partnering with other businesses that also promote women empowerment, like Nala Woman, The Naked Babe PH, and Tala by Kyla. Aside from that, Cleo continues to expand her reach and spread her advocacies through her podcast, Kwentuhang Pilipina, and her growing TikTok community.
“I am a dreamer,” Cleo said. “When I got the idea of launching a business that can inspire people with the words that I put on our products, it gave me a spark of joy. That little spark drove me to start one and figure it out as I go.”
What once was a 15-year-old's wishful aspiration is now the 18-year-old's reality. Hiraya Pilipina continues to grow exponentially, with the dream of becoming the Philippines' most women-empowering brand by 2026.
For more information on Hiraya Pilipina, visit their official website here.
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