Fashion

How Thesis Helped This 22-Year-Old Entrep Create Her Own Business

All those sleepless nights? Worth it.
ART Clare Magno

For most college students, thesis is the biggest roadblock of their college lives. Tons of research to do, sleepless nights, and let's not forget the dreaded defenses. But for Angelica Rodriguez, her thesis actually helped her realize her passion in life and ended up becoming the inspiration for her now successful brand Ika. Read on to find out how this 22-year-old entrep started Ika by Angelica Rodriguez.

How it started. "Ika by Angelica Rodriguez started as a college thesis company called Porcelé. My thesis mates and I used to make porcelain clay accessories then. After graduating from DLSU, I decided to continue the business, this time, making bags. I started by making a few minaudieres for consignment. Friends of mine began to ask me to make them bespoke bags for trips and special occasions so I decided to be more aggressive with the business."

Why Ika? "It was quite a spur of the moment decision to switch from accessories to bags. I wasn't actually planning on pursuing the business so soon after I graduated until my mom suggested we look into making bags. I figured there were so many styles that I wanted to make for myself so we just went from there."

Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur is quite a challenge. There are so many different components to making a startup work. Whether it was setting up the business back then or making new collections or taking orders now. I'm usually so intimidated by the list of things I have to do until I slowly tick everything off it. I don't think it gets any easier. New challenges come up all the time but it's always fulfilling to move past them and face new ones as your business grows."

Aesthetic. "My aesthetic is a good balance of fun, fresh, and feminine. For our signature raffia clutches, it's really all about what's fun. For my other pieces, however, I like to mix runway trends with vintage flair and translate them into modern, Filipino pieces."

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Choosing the look. "It really all just came together. When I started designing bags, I never would have thought our signature pieces would be so fun and colorful. Initially, I wanted to make dressier, more serious pieces for formal events, but our raffia clutches turned out to be one of our biggest hits. I couldn't be happier since living in the Philippines means it's basically summer the whole year round. It's also interesting to see how your style and products evolve through time. I think it's important to see where your work takes you without forgetting your brand identity."

Drawing inspiration. "I'm most inspired by travel and lifestyle. A lot of my collections have come from pieces I made especially for, let's say, a girls' trip to Bali or a friend's outfits for the Maldives. We're definitely big on seasonal dressing!"

Flying solo. "I run my business as a sole proprietor, but I get a lot of help from my mom who handles production."

Little challenges. "It gets tough doing everything on your own. Up until the start of this year, I would juggle designing, marketing, and sales with a full-time job. However, I've had such an amazing support system from the very beginning. Like I said, my mom helps me out with production while my dad is always there to give me his insight when it comes to business and strategy. My friends have also been unbelievably helpful. They're always offering to take my bags with them on vacation. In fact, all of our trips turn into impromptu photo shoots!"

Biggest roadblock. "I find that production is one of the toughest aspects of running a business. You need to work with so many people inside and outside of the company. If you don't learn to communicate efficiently, it's so easy to miss your deadlines or get a product that doesn't meet your standards. That was one of the biggest challenges for me especially before I decided to work on the business full-time."

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Staying original. "Every time a new trend pops up, it's so tempting to get on the bandwagon just for sales. I think it's better to concentrate on innovation instead and to stay true to your brand. Aside from that, we believe cultivating a genuine relationship with our customers is more important than just the bottom line."

What's next? "We're always looking into new ways to turn traditional local materials into something unique. We want to diversify our product lines and offer more choices. New styles and designs are always in the works!"

Entrepreneurial philosophy. "Always see where an opportunity takes you. You never know what could happen. There will always be a million reasons not to, but if you don't see them through, you don't know when the next one will come around. If they don't come at all?"

Make your own opportunities.

To young budding entrepreneurs. Starting your own business isn't easy and the work can get pretty demanding. Take calculated risks and work hard. As clichéd as it is, being your own boss is definitely worth it. Lastly, surround yourself with people who inspire and support you, mutual empowerment is key.

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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