From a funky accessory business in 2005 to a clean, sleek, and minimalist new shoe biz, former Candy Council of Cool member Ana Gonzales tells us how she made the huge leap from fun to sleek with her new shoe brand, Simple, in this week's "How I Started."
How it started. "I've been an online entrepreneur since 2005! I used to make wire accessories for a living, but a few years back I got burned out, and decided to just drop everything. It was my longest artist and entrepreneurial block ever. Although starting a business was still at the back of my mind. I tried selling other things, but wasn't really consistent about it. During this long drought, I attended random creativity classes, entrepreneurial classes, and even a goal setting workshop when I realized barely a month back that I want a line with just black sandals. Luckily, all the right people and ideas came and I was able to start Simple."
Why Simple? "The collection is actually based on shoe designs that I personally would like to wear. I realized that my closet is filled with shoes in different cuts and styles, but almost everything is in black! I wanted something that I can wear with any outfit daily and I think that a pair of black sandals is any girl's best bet for versatile footwear so I decided to create a shoe line that does just that."
Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur is definitely much harder than I thought it would be. Although I manage my own time, I also need to make sure that I use this luxury properly. It's easy to just get lazy, or get sidetracked when you are your own boss, so finding the balance is very challenging. Also, I have to keep up with what's new. Everything's fast evolving now—from people's taste to the best social media app to use."
Drawing inspiration. "Generally, I am inspired by chic Japanese women who dress up in limited color palette of blacks, whites, grays, nudes, but still look very stylish!"
Flying solo. "I am currently a lone wolf, but I do have a supplier that's based in Cebu whom I work with closely for Simple."
Little challenges. I guess one challenge of being a sole proprietor is knowing where to invest my capital in. Also, I am still a one-man team so I work on everything—as a social media manager, as a sales manager replying to all order forms and inquiries, taking product photos, building the brand's website, communicating with my suppliers, etc. I find juggling everything all by myself pretty challenging, too!"
Staying original. "Instead of comparing myself to other brands, I compare myself with how I did things before with my former accessories brand. What I do differently now is that I create something that I will personally wear for the long haul. Plus, I try to make sure that products and designs are as timeless as possible."
What's next? "My goal is to make it a big genderless brand where I can produce everything simple—from sandals for men, basic accessories like eyeglasses and watches, and who knows maybe even notecards, scents, or home accessories!"
To budding young entrepreneurs. "Start a business that focuses on your passion. This will make work something that you'd love to do every day for the long haul. Secondly, continue to learn new things and get inspired. Take classes, read, travel, expose yourself to things that you like. You will use this knowledge one way, or another in the future anyway. Third, don't be afraid of risks and changes. Just do it! Enter the business industry while you're still young, because you will never really be fully ready. Mistakes will come along the way, learn from them! Improve through time and experience. And lastly, change is the only thing constant, so learn to adjust and adapt. Be open minded with what's new, being stagnant is the worst enemy of any entrepreneur."
Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!