While fashion is about style stars and current trends, it's also all about expressing yourself, taking risks, and having fun, which is exactly what Crow is all about. Read on to find out how Cara de Jesus built her fashion brand from scratch, and just how important aesthetic is to a brand in this week's "How I Started."
How it started. "While I've always been entrepreneurial in nature, Crow actually started on pure whim. I once wore a pair of handmade earrings to a club, and got tons of compliments from friends and strangers! So, I decided to sell them. I also noticed that a lot of the clothes I wear, which I purchased abroad would get a lot of compliments, and my friends would always ask me to buy them the same pieces. From there I took the initiative, and studied what would work and what wouldn't in the local market and Crow just boomed as a one-stop shop for unique pieces in Manila since then."
Why Crow? "It's a common misconception that I only sell =swimsuits. While our Crow classics will always be swimwear and bodysuits, we've also branched out to other RTW items depending on the season. I like selling our Crow classics because they're fuss free when it comes to conceptualizing. Bodysuits are extremely versatile and comfortable, while swimwear is something that I've always wanted to tap into since I found it hard to shop for swimsuits for my body type back then."
Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur is so much harder than most people think! A lot of people assume that being an entrepreneur—especially in the fashion scene—is easy. What people need to understand is that a lot of research and development goes into building a brand, too. There's a whole lot of math, knowledge on importation fees, logistics, trends, etc.! There are so many times where I found myself stuck in a rut when it comes to marketing techniques, inventory choices, and even financial capabilities.
It may sound cliché, but every day is really a learning experience and you're bound to make mistakes along the way."
Drawing inspiration. "A lot of my inspiration comes from my own personal style. The pieces that I sell are curated to fit my standards and I don't sell anything that I personally wouldn't wear. Crow's main selling point is that majority of our pieces are sexy, and encourages my clients to wear something outside of their comfort zone, which to me is what fashion is all about—experimentation and fun, it's not rocket science! Our items aren't made for everyday wear and that's the whole point: to inspire people to dress up every once in a while."
Team work. "Up until mid-2016 I was the sole proprietor of Crow, but it was getting difficult for me to handle everything alone. Luckily, my best friend, Nadynne Esguerra decided to come onboard and handle our tech and operations. Working with a team is always a great learning experience because you have no choice but to adjust and collaborate with other individuals, At first, it was hard having people question my decisions because I was so used to working alone, but I eventually realized that if you want to go big, you will need help, and that in itself was a humbling experience."
Little challenges. "There are so many challenges in working on Crow. Every day, there are new online stores popping out from left to right and you have to admit, there will always be people and brands that are going to be better than you. It's a huge challenge to remain relevant, but at the same time true to your aesthetic. I think my brand vision is something that I can never compromise."
Staying original. "I like to think of Crow as an extension of myself. So, when I think of it that way, the aesthetic behind the brand is as authentic (to me) as it gets. You can tell who a Crow Chick is from a mile away. We're pretty much the antithesis of an IT girl. Also, I'd like to think that we are very successful in creating a global look behind our brand. We work with people from all over the world, different body types, racial backgrounds, and personal style, but at the same time we offer items that are of exceptional quality at insanely affordable prices, too."
Entrepreneurial philosophy. "Try and try until you die! Seriously speaking, I have zero business and fashion background but I was just a hundred percent sure that this was the industry that I would thrive in. So, I paved the way for myself. I moved at my own pace, and that's perfectly fine. Not many people can build something successful overnight anyway.
So, move at your own pace and take every failure as a lesson.
"There will also be people who are always willing to help you out, all you have to do is ask!"
What's next? "I'd love to see Crow have a physical flagship store here in the Philippines that caters to every Crow Chick's needs. The response of people who have expressed desire to work with my brand both locally and internationally has been so overwhelming and I really want to continue that. I want to be able to be a brand that is accessible for everyone."
To young budding entrepreneurs. "You need to believe in the product that you are selling. Time and time again, I've seen people act very nonchalant, or even complacent with the items they are selling and that for me is a huge no in brand building. You need to be able to have a connection with your brand in order to connect meaningfully with others. It's easy to sell items, the challenge is building relationships with others who will support your brand. Lastly, complacency can easily lead to a lot of problems for entrepreneurs.
Innovation and relevance are always important!"
Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!