Fashion

How I Started: Happy Hoodies

Rica Tai shares with us how she and her gang started Happy Hoodies while juggling their acads!
IMAGE Happy Hoodies | instagram.com/happyhoodies ART Clare Magno

Hoodies are a great way to stay cozy amidst the breeze, but Happy Hoodies found a way to combine fun and functionality with cute character hoodies! We had a little chat with Rica Tai one of the co-founders of Happy Hoodie to share with us how they started Happy Hoodies. 

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How it started. "Back in college, three of my friends and I saw an ad from the BGC foundation calling for business ideas. The chosen ones would be given 40,000 pesos seed money and the opportunity to launch their products in the Christmas bazaar of BGC. We sent our idea, got chosen, and sold our products that Christmas. It was a hit so we decided to continue selling in other bazaars, and eventually online through social media platforms."

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Why Happy Hoodies? "We decided to sell character hoodies because during that time, all the hoodies that were available seemed to look alike—all of them were plain and had nothing special on it. We have always expressed ourselves through the clothes that we wear, and took inspiration from toys and kiddie costumes. We figured out a way to make fun hoodies that may be worn by both kids and adults! We wanted to bring out the kid in everyone with a Happy Hoodie."

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Young entrepreneur. "Being an entrepreneur while being in school was definitely a challenge. There were a lot of situations wherein we had to prioritize one over the other. However, as the years went by, we learned how to properly manage things, delegate tasks, and be more efficient in getting things done. Having a business on the side was our creative release since our courses were very theoretical with very minimal artistic expression. It was an outlet where we explored our imaginative side."

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Drawing inspiration. "We draw inspiration from anything. From trends, nature, comics, and movies, you name it!"

Team shuffling. "We started out as a group of four friends from college. After graduation, some of our friends decided to focus on their day jobs. So now we're just two people working as a team."

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Team effort. "Working in a team meant that we had more ideas going around, and we could rely on each other for multiple tasks. But it also meant that we had more people to get approval from in making decisions."

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Little challenges.  "When we started our own careers after graduation, it was difficult getting everyone's schedule together to discuss about the business. This made decision-making and execution of our plans slower. The business went under the radar for a while. Eventually, we had to ask everyone to re-evaluate their dedication to the venture, and assigned tasks only to those that can give time for Happy Hoodies. This way, things moved faster and we were able to revive the brand again."

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Staying original. "When we started, we were the only ones who sold 'cutesy' animal hoodies. There was no competition. We made our own designs, and we made everything locally. Since we joined different bazaars, we were able to talk to our clients. We adjusted our designs, sizing and even the material based on the feedback we got. When competitors started popping up after a few years, we learned that they were mostly sourced from China. The advantage of that was they were cheaper. On the other hand, the quality of hoodies they got was dictated by their suppliers. We're happy to say that Happy Hoodies are a result of continuous improvement and years of being in the business. We have constantly evolved from our designs to our suppliers to ensure that we offer only high quality products to our customers."

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What's next? "We're expanding from mainly selling online to being available in unique concept stores. We want to give our clients more chances of interacting and feeling our products."

To budding young entrepreneurs. "For budding entrepreneurs, our only advice is that whatever business you plan to get into, it should be something you're interested in, passionate about, good at, or enjoy. As Confucius once said, 'Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.'"

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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.
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