Meet the 21-Year-Old Shoe Lover Who Strutted Her Way Into The Shoe Biz

by Janelle Yau   |  Feb 18, 2017
Art: Clare Magno
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There are a lot of girls that call themselves shoe lovers, but Marla Ongtao wasn't contented with just being a shoe lover, so she turned her love for shoes into a start-up and strutted her way into the shoe biz. Read on as the young entrep behind this up-and-coming shoe brand shared with us how she started Strut.

How it started: "I have always wanted to start an online business after graduating college, but I had no idea what to sell nor how to start one. I planned on selling clothes or pastries, but those plans did not push through. A few months later, I had an idea of starting a footwear brand and because of my love for shoes, Strut was born!"


Why Strut? "I just turned 21 when I decided to start Strut. I felt that there was a need for stylish, yet elegant heels that were affordable, comfortable, and easy to wear. So I tried to come up with pieces that are durable without looking big or chunky."

Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur was quite hard for me because when I started Strut, I had to move back to the province after graduating and work there. I had to travel back and forth from my province to Manila and do all the necessary errands for Strut. But that only taught me how to make use of my time wisely—especially during the first few months of building the brand."

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Drawing inspiration. "I get inspiration from my personal style. I make sure that the pieces I sell are something that I would wear and that are perennial. Of course I also think about my target market and how my products can fit their lifestyle. Besides that, I also draw inspiration from people who believe in Strut."


Flying solo. "Being a sole proprietor gives you more responsibilities, but you also have all the freedom that you want when it comes to decision making. Sure, it gets exhausting and overwhelming at times, but whenever I receive positive messages from my customers on how much they love my designs, it makes all the blood, sweat, and tears absolutely worth it and makes me want to do more for Strut."


Little challenges. One of the biggest challenges that I had to face as a young entrepreneur was setting up Strut. I was hesitant to start the business at first because I did not have ample knowledge about starting up a business and the territory that comes with it. I delayed it for weeks, but my friend encouraged me to start working on it. So I began to educate myself about the industry, trends, marketing, etc.


Staying original. "Strut is all about creating beautifully designed, quality products that last. I try to stay true to its vision by providing shoes that are transitional, versatile, and refined. I seek to give my customers the best shoe experience possible and to accommodate the chic in every woman."


What's next? "I want to expand into more categories while having the same objective of creating transitional, versatile and refined products. I also plan for Strut to be more accessible by having physical stores and by putting up my website."

Entrepreneurial philosophy.

"Starting something on your own may be scary at first, but the fulfillment you get at the end of the day makes it all worth it!"

To young budding entrepreneurs. Don't be afraid to take risks, but make sure to always do thorough research first before taking action. Work on something that you are passionate about. And while there will be a lot of challenges along the way, starting your own business will always be fulfilling.


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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