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Starting a footwear line one step at a time

Learn how a group started their footwear line
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College sweethearts Kaye Ong and TJ Rocamora, with longtime couple Jackie Tan and TJ Lumauig, have always set their hearts on opening a business right after graduating from the Ateneo de Manila University in the early 2000s. The two boys, however, decided to pursue a degree in law first, allowing the girls to survey the products and services that were most popular in the market at that time.

[related|post]Confused and overwhelmed by the range of enterprises they could invest in, the four decided to put up a shawarma kiosk in May 2009. This business did not take off the ground since it was something they weren’t knowledgeable of nor passionate about. It took them another three months to finally figure out something that they “actually wanted to sell.”

“We narrowed down our common interests and listed shoes and traveling as our collective priorities. As backpackers, we identified that just like us, a lot of people are having a hard time making their baggage work with the usual 15 to 20 kg limit. It was that light-bulb moment for a foldable yet stylish footwear for women on the go to be produced here in the Philippines,” narrates Ong.

Putting together what each member of the group had managed to save up over the years, the team gathered a little less than P500,000. In November 2009, they launched Suelas in a Christmas bazaar, releasing their first collection of foldable ballet flats called Llanura. With just one style in seven colors available, Suelas was sold out on their first weekend.


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