Thinking of expanding your products abroad? Like everyone else in this country, every entrepreneur has this dream of seeing his products in some of the world’s most famous shopping centers like Saks 5th Avenue in New York or along the Avenue de Champs-Élysées in Paris.
It’s the perfect opportunity to set your eyes abroad as most of the world’s economies are already on a recovery mode. And what better way to celebrate the end of a [economic] depression than by engaging into a little bit of retail therapy?
Filipino entrepreneur Mich Dulce, a milliner, is far from your ideal entrepreneur whose focus is on the local market. While she may prefer a go-with-the-flow approach, she was sure about one thing.
“When I started designing, I knew that no matter what it takes, I wanted to be a global brand. Not really like a powerhouse, but I want to be recognized abroad.”
Before breaking into the international scene, you must do your homework. Here are some of Dulce’s tips:
1. Offer something different and of high quality
“Look at the brands that are successful globally. You have [world-famous bag designers] Celestina (Maristela-Ocampo), Bea Valdes, Amina Aranaz … Their products are really special— intricate and different from other products from anywhere else in the world,” Dulce explains. “It’s really about creating a product that is quality inside out. If you do a substandard product, it doesn’t work.”
2. Ensure that you can meet demand.
“You can’t be global and not have the resources to manufacture anywhere else. The reason why I had to invest that much money in making my brand was because I also had to invest in finding subcontractors that could work for me, based on the quality that I wanted,” Dulce says.
3. Seek outside support.
“You know the government actually, they do have funds, they do have support system, and I never even knew that,” Dulce shares. “This year, they’re very active in garments and they’re trying to help us. I’ve been trying to set up a meeting with them because I have many ideas, which I learned in London that can help us as an industry. I think it’s not that they didn’t want to help us, but the information is [not out there],” she adds.
One such system is the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is, the exports-promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (www.citem.com.ph). One of its regular projects, the Manila F.A.M.E. International, is a major trade fair that highlights home-related and fashion and lifestyle products in the Asia-Pacific region.