During the pandemic, plenty of young hustlers have set out to launch their own businesses while trudging through the struggles of attending online classes and working on their career goals. Aside from earning extra income (Let's face it, staying at home means no more allowances or baon), they also aim to use these business ventures to promote their respective advocacies.
Gabby and Matteo Bayot, two students from Ateneo de Manila University taking up Psychology with a minor in English Literature, are a prime example of young creatives with a vision in mind and a drive to make it a reality. Aside from being aspiring lawyers, Gabby and Matteo are both passionate about their brainchild, a clothing line called FADO. "Our brand stands behind the saying that basic is overplayed, but unique is forever," they explain. "Therefore, we want to cultivate a culture that celebrates the unconventional, the hidden, and the ever-changing and a place where everyone can truly and freely express themselves like no one’s watching."
Read on to learn more about how they started and how they keep going despite challenging times:
They had to earn funds first before they were able to operate.
Starting a business is no easy feat. Putting up your own clothing line from scratch requires different types of commitment, including investing precious resources such as money. Because they were just college students, Matteo and Gaby did not have enough funds to start their own brand. "We decided to hold it off until the time came that we had enough to pay for the start-up expenses," Matteo and Gabby explain. "Gabby, along with his sister, started a food business wherein they sold cheesecakes and tres leches to over a hundred customers. Their business, Baked by Sunrise, helped him attain the necessary funds to contribute to the start-up expenses of FADO. On the other hand, Matteo worked closely with his dad, who is an avid collector, selling artwork."
They teamed up with the supplier of big local brands for their fabrics.
Starting their brand in the middle of a pandemic wasn't an easy choice. It meant that they had a limited number of options when it comes to sourcing for suppliers, which was already hard enough considering that they were looking for ones that fit their mission of pushing for sustainability in fashion.
Thankfully, they found Raya Couture, a homegrown company that provides jobs to senior citizens, former housewives, and disadvantaged women. The brand has been a supplier of fabrics for big brands in the local scene, including certain brands under Rustan's, Penshoppe, Robinsons, and SM. They've also made uniforms for Reedley International School, Gap, Muji, and Banana Republic, to name a few.
"We showed them our designs and they were willing to collaborate closely with us," Matteo and Gabby explain. "We came to an agreement early in the process to make use of excess fabrics of other companies as our material for our first pieces. To this day, we consider ourselves lucky to have had the opportunity to attain such fabrics because it also adds to the uniqueness of the pieces."
Even though they can't assure that they will be using excess fabrics in future collections, the brand still makes it a point to be sustainable where they can. For instance, they use locally-sourced reusable paper bags for their packaging instead of opting for plastic.
They get by with a little help from friends.
Operations-wise, it's just Matteo and Gabby doing the work. Gabby handles finances while Matteo is in charge of promotions and advertising, but they do their best to help each other out in their respective responsibilities. "We often check up on each other, giving each other feedback and bringing fresh perspectives that the other might not be able to see," they share.
Because the pandemic has also prevented them from working with others in a face-to-face setup, Matteo and Gabby are thankful for the help their friends have given in terms of providing visuals for the brand. They explain, "We sent them our pieces, let them style it the way they would like, and asked them to take photos of themselves wearing it. These photos are then posted to our page as a promotion to let our customers know that our designs are unique but at the same time versatile such that they have the option to wear it in different ways in the same week."
Despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic and only having the two of them working full-time to sustain the brand and its advocacies, Gabby and Matteo are starting to see the fruits of their labor. "We have nearly sold out our La Condamine Polos and have a few stocks left of our Menton Round Necks," they share.
Check out FADO on Instagram.
*This story originally appeared on Candymag.com. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.
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