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."

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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."

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."


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!









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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It's also a mental and emotional battle for this survivor.
The changes are familiar: quarantine passes and checkpoints.
A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here

This is a drawing and a poem I’ve made for a summer love. Our time together was short-lived but the feelings were not.

“God’s Gift”

On a platform we stand

Faces seen all in a blur

Relentless searching led by a spur

To find someone, to feel something

Aren’t we fools to waste away time?

To look for one man’s treasure

Somewhere as ephemeral, as fragile

As a bond built in crime

But aren’t we just like every weary heart?

Hoping for an oasis

In the midst of the desert

Wanting to quench our thirst

Aren’t we all like frosted windows

Of old and battered houses on winter?

Wishing for the sun to give us warmth

To melt the facade so we can show what the inside is made

Aren’t we maven pretenders?

A Casanova? A Temptress? Who made us this way?

A sly fox? A ruthless hunter?

Let down the walls, It’ll be okay

Rushed for a hug, now no hesitating

Engulfed by a sense of bliss or was it longing? Eyes wide-open,

Stepping on a quicksand I embraced the fall into the deep end

Gazed at you lying there unaware With you, found something rare I swear

Realization dawning as loud as a thunder

As the Beating of your heart put me into a deep slumber

Waking up from this reverie

Truth slapped me back to reality

Two worlds so different, now I see If only I could I’d be anything and anyone you need me to be I’m the ludicrous clown, you see

Thought if I ruin it first I’d be free

From the doubts brought by my own insecurity I was so wrong,

What a tragicomedy Brought by the month of April

We rushed the ticking of clock to May Hands interlocked

Weaved skin to skin on a rainy day But when June came to say hello, all went dark grey

What was once there ceases to exist Like the wilting of a flower

Once so beautiful, so full of life Now turned into dust by death’s kiss

Unbounded joy brought by your presence

Paralleled with the perennial ache of your absence Yearned for and offered seventh heaven

Now the heart weeps for evanescence

A mirage, to be the fair maiden The sorrow to find out I’d end up our own villain

But all’s well for you are but a distant dream Gamaliel, You are, I knew it from the very beginning .

Written by me, the one-shot story

Coffee is about a girl who used to cherish moments with someone in a cafe. Sometimes, a simple drink can leave an imprint on someone's mind. ____________________________________________


It's been a year since my boyfriend and I broke up. I love him and he loves me too but things just didn't worked  the way it should be. Now I'm heading at the cafe where we started and ended. I have no choice but to go there after all it was made up of both happy and sad memories. But that's life , right? We can't be happy all the time. Challenges come and hearts can break. But it doesn't just end there.

"One signature coffee , please." I said as I ordered from the cashier.

"What size?" she asked.

"Small." I said.

Then she took my payment and I headed towards the seat near the window. A window seat.... for two. The cafe was surprisingly full tonight unlike the past few days.

Again, I have no choice but to sit on that window seat. It is where we sit often. It is our seat. Our place. There are a lot of couples at the cafe and wow I'm alone. There's a part of me which says you should be happy because he's not the only guy in this world. Another part of me says you're still hurt so don't pretend to be happy. The truth is , I am both happy and sad.  I'm happy because we're both free and we can focus more in our careers. But I'm sad because I'm not the other half of his heart anymore. I'm sad because I let him go even though I still love him. I'm sad because I can't see him. I'm sad because I can't share this relaxing coffee shop where we can chill with the aromatic smell of the coffee.

"Small signature coffee?" the waitress said as she serves my coffee.

"Yes. Thank you." I said.

"Since you're a regular customer here, we would like to give you this item for free." the waitress said. She handed me a purple journal with the name of the cafe on it and a pen.

"Oh thanks." I said .

"Enjoy your coffee!" she said.

I took advantage of using the freebies from the cafe. A window seat is also a bonus in inspiring me to write something. While sipping my coffee my brain and my heart began to function smoothly.

And so I wrote: My coffee has been cold lately, I can't feel anything after taking a sip and there's no heat to leave a pain on my lips. And it was a relief. But then, I remember one thing about sipping a cold coffee instead of a hot one: cold coffee doesn't leave you any marks when you sipped it, just like a blunt feeling. But a hot coffee will leave you a remarkable pain from the heat which reminds you that you are alive to feel....

I closed the journal and stared at the window. He was the coffee. The hot coffee. No matter how our breakup hurt me, he left me a mark and a lesson to learn. A hot coffee can be a challenge too or an obstacle. They all made you feel that you are alive. That you can go on with your life. You can still stand up. Love taught me to move forward. He taught me to be stronger. He is love.

Belley Marie A day ago


One of the proudest things as a fan is the feeling that you are part of their growing fandom and stardom. From streaming their songs online, watching their music videos, TV guestings, collecting photocards, albums, lightsticks, attending to their concert and fan meetings surely, you're a fan! But there's a problem, MONEY.

It's really heartbreaking when you hear that members of your favorite band are coming and their concert is just around the corner but here you are thinking of how to sell one of your kidneys just to go to their concert (kidding).That no matter how much you try to save, it will never be enough for a ticket because you are only a student who has limited resources or if you're an adult, you have bills to pay. So joining a "team bahay" livestream is your last resort, but sometimes even those links don't work!

Of course if there's team bahay there's also "team airport/ team labas", fans who waits at the airport hoping to see their idols upon their arrival. How we wish we could also attend and be part of it, something like shouting their names, fanchants then cry out of happiness while waving their lightsticks or banners. What a concept isn't?

Hey, cheer up! being broke doesn't make you any less of a fan. Know that there are other ways to support and love them. For sure our idols have the same and equal love to us no matter what "team" we belong (team concert, team airport/labas and team bahay).Maybe for some people, they might think we are being overly dramatic without knowing that for us fans, their existence itself and music saved us and made us happy once in our lives. -Gwy June 16,2020

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