Meet Alan Segui and Gino Orejo, two Bicol-raised creatives who made the fantasy of leaving their daytime jobs to become their own bosses a reality.
Weekend Wanda creators Alan and Gino first met in college during their younger years. Seeking more creative opportunities, both eventually moved to the metro, became a couple and proud dads to a Dachshund named Troye. Fast-forward to their working 20s, Alan, aged 23, worked as a Marketing and Social Media Specialist by day, and, by night, occasionally transformed into Insomnia—his larger-than-life drag persona who lives for the applause. Meanwhile, Gino, 25, made a living as a Digital and E-Commerce Marketing Manager for an independent beauty brand. But as expected with the age group and generation they belonged to, they also had side hustles which included working as freelance photographers, and being in front of and behind the camera for Alan's YouTube channel, which currently has 2,600 subscribers.
Now five years strong together, the partners-in-life have unlocked a new milestone in their relationship by becoming partners-in-business for their very own brand. While others would advise against a financial investment with a significant other, the two have seemingly figured out how to make it work for them. They know each other's strengths perfectly well and with only having each other to depend on (as they're the only people behind the brand right now), they use that information to equally designate roles. Alan shares, "I’m in charge of the creative direction, talking to suppliers, designing, picking out and sourcing fabrics, packaging, and PR. Gino handles user experience, marketing analytics, ads, social media marketing, and most of shipping and customer relations."
It took a lot of long nights and teamwork but the brand officially launched in April 2019. Just five months into the game and they've made quite the impression to consumers. Their products are always sold out and they’ve quickly gained support on Instagram (a truly non-negotiable factor for brands to flourish these days). Gino beams, "We're growing pretty fast. We’re near 10K followers and it’s only been less than a quarter of a year." This actually comes as a surprise for the two, as neither one of them received any proper fashion training prior to launching the clothing line. Gino adds, "We love fashion but we're not designers. We are both digital marketing people. But honestly, I think this gives us a unique point of view. From my observation, when you work in fashion, there is a conscious decision to follow trends because it’s what sells. On the other hand, in digital marketing, the goal is not to follow trends but to be the trend and be the one that's viral."
Below, the couple talks to Preview about their journey to self-employment, where they draw design inspirations from, and their advice on how to start your own business in the digital age.
First off, how would you describe your personal style?
A: Dark and nostalgic.
G: Classic like Mr. Sheffield, but also fun like Fran Fine. [Laughs.]
How did Weekend Wanda start?
A: I’ve always believed I had a strong entrepreneurial drive. I’ve known it from a very young age. This just seemed like the right time.
G: It was quite spontaneous, really. The routine of our 9-to-5 jobs was taking a toll on us. We were looking for a side hustle that would excite us. It was just fun, so we kept doing it. At one point, we just said to ourselves “Woah, this is legit. We could really make this big.”
What was the initial goal for the brand?
A: To become a one-stop shop for everything a woman would need for her weekend getaways. We want nothing more than to make it easy for girls of any size to feel confident and comfortable.
Is there a particular person that comes in mind that encapsulates the Weekend Wanda woman?
G: Wanda is her own person. I think that was the idea. She’s just fun to be around. When you plan a weekend trip, she’s the first person you invite.
How did you decide on your debut line?
A: The original plan was to do clothes first but we wanted to be in line with the season. It was the middle of summer and we wanted to do something before it ended. We started with a few pieces but when we noticed there was a demand, we kept restocking until eventually, the production for clothes got pushed back. But as soon as summer ended, we produced and released the clothes right away. But thinking back, it actually made sense for the brand that the swimsuits were released first because it’s the ultimate weekend getaway uniform for beach trips. I guess, in a way, releasing them first was a good accident.
It's no secret that there are a lot of fashion brands out there. What sets you apart from the others?
A: What sets us apart is our thought process in coming up with our pieces. We always ask the question, “Where is she going?” when coming up with our designs.
G: Social media is exciting. There’s always something new on the horizon. You need to evolve to stay relevant. It keeps us on our toes and we love it.
Where do you draw design inspirations from?
A: Our designs are inspired by timeless silhouettes and color stories.
G: We do frequent surveys and polls on our social media. We believe that running a business these days require the perfect balance between both hard analytics and out-of-the-box creativity. Yes, numbers and graphs aren’t exactly sexy or romantic, but they help us understand what our customers need.
Both of you had full-time jobs before making Weekend Wanda. What made you finally decide to leave your jobs and make something of your own?
G: It’s the age-old choice between passion or stability. We chose passion and we never looked back. A lot of it boils down to timing though. It would’ve been impossible for us to do this a few years ago, but now we are ready financially and career-wise.
Was it hard for you to transition from being a 9-5 employee to a full-time business owner?
A: It’s definitely a big shift. Unlike corporate jobs, we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves. Being your own boss definitely has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. But it’s very satisfying and fulfilling to see that people appreciate what we put out. And more than selling clothes, we believe in cultivating creativity in the community. That’s why we always go all out in our shoots.
How did your creative background help you in creating your business?
A: It’s definitely a big advantage since we didn’t need to hire a lot of people to do creative tasks. Being the creative director is my absolute favorite role as a business owner. I get to call the shots when it comes to every creative choice. It’s super fun and it never feels like work unless we have a particular deadline we need to meet.
What has been the biggest struggle for you guys so far?
A: So far, the biggest struggle is manpower because we’re the only ones behind the brand as of right now. And for a brand to properly function, there has to be several people behind it so everything happens at a faster pace. Since we both wear many hats, some things really can't get done as fast as we want to. Time management is also definitely challenging. It’s good that we have all the time to do whatever we want but at the same time, it’s a disadvantage in terms of productivity. We’re trying our best to stick to a schedule and to get things done but there are definitely times when we find ourselves getting distracted by other things.
What do you think is the winning formula for a successful business these days?
G: There really isn’t. Anything I tell you right now may become obsolete in a few months. Everything is moving so fast, and the challenge is to keep up.
What can we expect next from Weekend Wanda?
A: We’re actually expanding as we speak. We started with swimsuits but we just released a bunch of new pieces: co-ords, button-downs, cover-ups, kimonos, earrings, sunglasses. We’re thinking of doing shoes and bags next.
What's your advice for young creatives who also want to venture into entrepreneurship?
G: Take risks, but don’t be reckless. Find the balance between being passionate and being realistic.