Every fashion designer dreams of opening up his or her own boutique, but since starting up an online store is so much easier, a lot of them opt for a clicks and portals brand instead. But Eugene Ysabel is not one of them. After opening Neu online and gaining followers for her brand, Eugene didn't stop propelling the brand towards a unique and globally competitive style. Now, she managed to break barriers, maintain an online store, and open up a physical store in one of the biggest and upscale malls in the city, too. Find out how Eugene started her brand Neu in this week's "How I Started."
When it started. "I started Neu after graduating in Fashion Design from SoFA Design Institute."
How it started. "At first I was manning all the tasks—from cutting my designs' patterns down to tying satin ribbons onto my packages. That went on for a couple of months until Neu started to gain more and more following. I built my own website and solely did business through online transactions, then in late 2016, I decided to expand my clothes' presence offline and now you can find Neu at Uptown, BGC."
Why Neu? "I wanted to sell clothes—specifically, womenswear. I've always been passionate about reshaping the outdated principle that Filipina women should dress in such conservative ways that inhibit them to feel empowered and free from oppressive misogyny. I wanted Neu to deliver clothes that would provide style, comfort, and ease that you can wear day-to-night—especially in Manila's scorching temperatures."
Young entrepreneur. "I think that any 21-year-old will find it challenging to start a business at such an early age since it means giving up your savings for your capital and sometimes, one has to go through the discomfort of asking his or her parents for support in a career that they weren't necessarily rooting for. Of course, it doesn't help when you friends posts super cool Instagram travel and shopping posts since you'd have to allot your allowance for your business."
Drawing inspiration. "For my first collection, I drew inspiration from the prominently white architecture of Santorini, Greece and incorporated the structure of neoprene fabrics. The summer collection I'm slowly releasing right now is mostly trend-driven and defined by soft, feminine silhouettes with Neapolitan ice cream hues that complement the morena skin tones perfectly."
Flying solo. "Personally, I find it easier being a sole proprietor because I've always preferred working alone as opposed to working with a team that doesn't share the same vision and amount of passion that I want exerted in projects. So, although it's difficult sometimes, I still prefer it—especially since it's my eponymous brand."
Little challenges. I realized that my customers were keener to wearing low key designs, very much opposed to what I initially envisioned my clothes to be. As much as I wanted to incorporate subtle avant-garde details and experimental shapes to my designs, I had to re-brand for Neu's second collection and listen to what my market wants, but still retained what Neu stands heavily for.
Staying original. "Neu differs from my competitors mainly in the aspects of design, aesthetic, and the flexibility of customization since we produce our items in small batches."
What's next? "I plan for Neu to expand to bags and shoes, or even furniture! in the future. I want the brand to have its own full-sized retail space/showroom, too!"
"Timing is everything. Everything will fall into place, whether expected or unexpected, if the timing is right (albeit, calculated)."
To young budding entrepreneurs. "Design products that are unique enough to stand out amongst your competitors, yet still desirable for your customers to wear/use practically in their everyday lives."
Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!