Fashion

This Sister Duo Shows How to Get a Biz Rolling Even with Zero Experience in Business

Guess what, it's totally possible!
IMAGE Instagram | www.instagram.com/gvnthelabel ART Clare Magno

Starting a business when you have zero experience can be intimidating—especially when you're still in school. But this sister duo proves that with the right amount of confidence, dedication, and pure passion for your brand, nothing is imposible. Read on as the sassy sisters Keisha and Kaitlin Lao shares with us how they started Giovanne the Label.

How it started. "Back when we were thinking of creating our own leather bag business, we actually doubted our capabilities of being able to source materials and scout for suppliers since we really had no experience whatsoever in the leather business. Building the brand was a mere idea that we didn't really look into. However, there was this one night when I was doing my usual midnight Instagram stalking and I stumbled upon this photo of an eye-catching synthetic leather rolls for sale. So I woke my sister up and told her all about what I had found and how we could easily contact this person. That’s when Giovanne the Label started."

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Why Giovanne the Label? "The retail market is saturated with clothing—from crop tops to tailored trousers, and even knitted sweaters, you name it! From a customer's perspective, we realized that the market actually lacks a certain product which is both affordable and stylish—synthetic leather bags. A number of people believe that leather bags must always be made with genuine leather alone and doing otherwise will reduce the overall quality and look of the bag. Giovanne the Label, however, believes otherwise. We reject the idea of using animal skin for our products and instead, use alternatives such as vegan or man-made leather."

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Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur is definitely no easy feat. It requires hard work, dedication, and time. Plus, you definitely need to learn how to balance both schoolwork and business and find ways to make it work even if everything seems to go awry. For us, it was definitely not a smooth ride when we started the brand. We sought for help from successful entrepreneurs and did a lot of research in order to meet the demands of the customers. Apart from that, dividing our time between school and work has been difficult since we constantly join bazaars every now and then, which interfere with our class schedules."

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Drawing inspiration. "We actually get our inspiration from the bags we see while walking around the mall, in the Ateneo campus, on Instagram, Facebook, or random ideas that float around our heads. We start collating all these ideas through an app called Paper. It has all these precise brushes and hues, which we work around with to get our collection’s color palette."

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Hand in hand. "My sister and I work as a team! Since we came up with the concept together, we believed it was right to make all the other decisions together as well. From the designs of the bags, to the way we market our products, everything is agreed upon. But don't get us wrong, starting a business with your sister can still be challenging. We had been through countless fights and misunderstandings because of our contrasting opinions, clashing schedules, and more. But these problems have proven to be helpful in the end since we developed a certain attitude towards our work and has also made us stronger as a team. We always have to look for common ground so both of us can end up with a solid idea that can ultimately help the business grow."

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Little challenges. "Having to look for a supplier was one of the problems we had to face. Everything was ten times more difficult because we had to start from scratch. We didn't know any manufacturer, we didn't know how to work with leather, and it was our first time to start our own business. We had to rely on the people around us and the people who knew a thing or two about the business we were about to start. It was actually those challenges that led us to our success today."

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Staying original. "Giovanne the Label veers away from the ordinary. Fast fashion has dominated the retail market and we do not want to be a brand that is remembered as such. With this in mind, we always think of designs that are unique but classic. Another important aspect which makes our brand different is our marketing strategy. Marketing your brand's image is one of the most essential things that should be looked at in a business and we ensure that we do not overlook this. Marketing for Giovanne the Label entails having constant product shoots or occasional photoshoots every now and then, making sure that all photos fit with the overall look of Giovanne, which is simple yet elegant."

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What's next? "At the moment we only have an online store, where customers can view our product catalogue as well as order their very own bag. In the near future, however, we hope to have our very own store boutique, where all our bags can be displayed and viewed as well as an actual website for international customers."

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Entrepreneurial philosophy.

"Don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done."

To young budding entrepreneurs. "Don't be afraid to start from scratch. It gets intimidating, yes. A lot of people are entering this market all at the same time. Some more experienced than others, yet we're all at the same playing field. At the end of the day, you just have to be unique and discover what sets you apart from all the competition. From that, work towards your goal.

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Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!

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About the author
Janelle Yau
Fashion and Beauty Assistant
The Rebecca Bloomwood of Manila. I spend half of my time obsessing about the latest fashion craze, and the other half overthinking and over-analyzing just about anything under the sun. When I’m not busy as a bee playing with fifty shades of pink lippies, you can probably catch me swiping my plastic for yet another pair of shiny, pointed gold flats.
VIEW OTHER ARTICLES FROM Janelle

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A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here

"Today, I Won"

I always caught feelings for someone, and hoped so much that one day there could a thing between the two of us. I'm usually the one that makes the effort to buy and/or make cute gifts, chats them every other day, and stays up all night with him.

When I was 16, my childhood crush suddenly came back into my life. We'd constantly send updates to each other, recommend favorite songs and talk even the most random things. He'd even text me as early as 6 to just greet me good morning almost everyday. I hoped so much that when I confessed, he suddenly stopped talking to me.

For short, he ghosted me. Those 6 months I spent talking to him, allotting my time for him, and staying up until 3 am for him - all gone in a simple confession. Although I had a few crushes before him, he's the only one that got me in real pain. It was the kind of pain that I never thought I'd experience. It was the kind of pain that I couldn't believe.

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After 7 years (it happened back in 2017), I thought he came back into my life to stay, but I guess he's just one of the guys who distanced. I felt a complete loser that time. But during this quarantine, everything was different. I caught feelings for someone else, but he treated me with the best kindness yet.

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It happened at 2 am, May 30, 2020, when I impulsively confessed my feelings through messaging him. After saying my feelings, he responded with genuine and kind words. We both even complimented each other. Although the feelings didn't reciprocate, I still found a connection that can't be replaced with any guy.

To my 16 year old self, here I am, 18 and happy. You may have felt that time was the biggest regret and loss, but I'm here to tell you, we won. Today, I won.

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Juliana Rebong 14 hours ago

Why our high school barkada is the best?

Remembering our high school years entails quite a lot reminiscing of the things we all been through when we were younger. You’ve experience a lot of new things during those 4 wonderful years and did most of them with the few people you consider your barkada. And through a series of all the lunch breaks you had together, the walks you took on the way home, and taking the same classes, you never thought you’d survive, you have made your life’s greatest friends.

Here are some of the reasons why your high school barkada is the best:

1. You figured out early teenage life together. The transition one have undergone from being a kid to a teenager wasn’t easy. For a moment you are not sure whether you should have played with your friends during recess or you should have just sat down and ate your food because you were too old for games. But whatever it is you chose to do, having friends who were as clueless as you make everything feel easier because you know, deep down, you’d figure things out eventually. You just need good company.

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2. They were with you during your “jeje“ days. I bet you have pictures taken with Camera360 and Retrica. You also have pictures edited using Pizap with embarrassing captions and you somehow kept some of them so you could have something to post online during their birthdays.

3. They know all your exes. They will never EVER forget the name of an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fling, an ex-crush, and an almost you had. They will remind you of your every questionable love decision but you’ll just laugh anyway while saying “Past is past”.

4. They never judge you. They have welcomed you to their lives when you thought jelly shoes and checkered polos were the bomb! They were quick to have told your teachers that you were not feeling well so you could go home when you really just needed to poop. You tell them every embarrassing story you have and were fine with it.

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5. You can always count on them. From the moment you first fell in love and the moment you first had your heart broken, they were with you. They were with you the moment you lost a parent and at moments when you thought you had nothing. Through every break-up and breakthrough, they were there to be your support system.

6. They are your family. Your high school friend’s family is your own family’s extension. Their parents are like your own. Don’t you feel a little kilig whenever your friend’s parents call you “anak”? And then eventually calling them mama and papa became so natural? I felt that, all the time.

7. They will always be your home. They are your place of refuge and security, the place who offers you their hands when you feel lost and the place you run to when you need saving. No matter how much time and distance separate you, they will be the one’s that you always long for and they are the one’s that you will always return to.

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