This Is How You Turn Your Love for Shopping Into a Business

Straight from a shoe-aholic turned business girl!
IMAGE Meraki |

Whether you're a die-hard fashion girl or not, admit it, shopping for a new top or a new pair of shoes is always a nice distraction from the busy college life. Now, what if we told you that your love for shopping can actually make you some moolah? Don't believe us? Read on to find out how young entrepreneur Dianne Alejo turned her love for shoes into a real business.

How it started. "I've always loved shoes and I tend to hoard them. I buy a pair or two every single month. Until I realized, why not create my own line of shoes? I started checking out manufacturers July 2015, but it wasn't until early 2016 when I became really serious in starting my own shoe line. Then April 2016, I released my first ever collection of sandals and slip-ons."

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Why Meraki? "Sandals are a staple in every girl's closet, so I decided to focus on selling sandals. My first sandal collection in April 2016 was actually not made of vegan leather. Apparently, the manufacturer ran out of my initial choice of material, so they suggested using vegan leather as an alternative. Looking back, I think it was a wonderful stroke of luck since after its release, the consumers preferred it. Consequently, I started using vegan leather solely for my sandals as well as for my bag collection, which is fairly new."


Young entrepreneur. "It's very hard to be a young entrepreneur. You face a lot of challenges in the initial stage and people tend not to take you seriously. I think every entrepreneur has faced these kinds of issues when they were starting—especially at a young age. However, as millennials, we are fortunate to live in the digital age. Almost everything can be done faster and easier. We should utilize and maximize things like the internet, so we can say that being a young entrepreneur also has its pros."


Drawing inspiration. "Aside from, of course, my family, and my boyfriend, I draw inspiration from my love for wearable fashion, which I would like to share with women from all walks of life."

Flying solo. I do everything on my own: from marketing, styling, designing, taking orders, etc. except driving! I’m just very blessed to receive such an overwhelming support from my family and my boyfriend. I believe I won’t be here without them, the people who trust Meraki, what it stands for, and how it patronizes our local shoemakers.


Little challenges. "At first, I thought looking for trustworthy manufacturers was the hardest challenge I had to overcome. My boyfriend and I scouted Marikina for weeks looking for manufacturers who can create the designs I have visualized. However, I realized, selling my designs and putting my brand out there is a much bigger challenge. There are a lot of other existing brands when I started, so it was hard to compete with them. In addition to that, it was hard for me to manage my time since I also work full time. So aside from my 8-hour desk job, I have to juggle managing my business, which entails a lot of sacrifices."


Staying original. "For one, I can honestly say that I really love my craft. That's why I chose the brand name "Meraki," which is derived from a Greek term meaning "to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself into your work." My brand is basically a reflection of myself and how I want to represent women of this generation: simple and classy. This, I think, sets me apart from the rest."


What's next? "At the start of 2017, my goals for Meraki were to add a line of bags and to transition to selling offline. Fortunately, before January ended, I was able to release my first collection of vegan leather sling bags. It was surprising because it received good market feedback. So now that my first goal has been reached, it is time to focus on selling my products offline. We have frequent pop-up events, but having a physical store is definitely on top of my priorities for my brand. Fingers crossed to joining a physical concept store before 2017 ends."


Entrepreneurial philosophy. "Be passionate about what you do, and work hard for what you want to achieve with realistic expectations in mind.

Listen to your customers, and surround yourself with people who have the same philosophy as yours."

To young budding entrepreneurs. I saw this quote online: "Your success will be determined by how well you can overcome hardship." I guess that would be my advice to other entrepreneurs out there. Just believe in your brand and you can overcome any challenge as long as you persevere and put your heart on it. You also have to have a lot of patience, as it won't always be an overnight success.


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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5 Mystery-Thriller Novels to Read

If you’re stuck at home and out of Netflix shows to binge-watch, then you might want to try and read these mystery-thriller books to match your homemade Dalgona Coffee.

1. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The debut novel, and Goodreads Choice Awards Best Mystery & Thriller of 2019, follows Alicia Berenson, a well-known painter married to an esteemed fashion photographer. Life seemed perfect for Alicia, until one evening when she shot her husband five times, and… never spoke again.

2. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

From the author of Final Girls comes this page turning novel about an infamous building in Manhattan called the Bartholomew. After stumbling upon an ad to become an apartment sitter, Jules Larsen has set out to look after apartment 12A under strict and somewhat odd conditions. Not long after stepping foot in the building, Jules has been met with unfriendly tenants, eerie noises in the apartment unit, and an abrupt departure of a fellow sitter named Ingrid.


3. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

If you loved Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho or David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, then this book is for you. After the disappearance of her Aunt Vivian while working as a night-shift clerk at the Sun Down Motel in 1982, Carly has set off to Fell NY, to work the same job at the same place as her Aunt had 35 years ago – with hopes of uncovering the truth lurking behind the Motel walls.

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4. Verity by Colleen Hoover

While known for Young-Adult Novels such as Slammed and Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover offers readers a romantic thriller about Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling author who was given the opportunity to finish the three remaining novels of a successful series after its original author, Verity Crawford, suffered an accident and has become immobile. After receiving an invite at the Crawford manor to sort through Verity’s notes, Lowen discovers an unpublished autobiography revealing the truth about Verity. With the eerie atmosphere of having Verity confined in her own home, and who is seemingly aware of her surroundings, Lowen is certain Verity is not what she appears to be.


5. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

A mind-bending science fiction thriller from the best-selling author of Wayward Pines – Dark Matter is packed with the concept of the Multiverse and the philosophy of existentialism. The novel follows an ordinary Physics professor, Jason Dessen, who was looking forward to dinner with his family while walking the streets of Chicago. The next thing he knew, he was being held at gunpoint – by a man wearing a mask – and injected with an unknown drug and blacks out. When he regains consciousness, he learns that the world he woke up to was different from the world he knew.


Here's a poem I wrote a while back reflecting on what it's like over-rationalize a simple thing like crushing on a dude -- hence, the title "Scientific Method"

Scientific Method

You were a phenomenon I cannot wrap my head around

When I first met you, my heart forgot to make its signature sound

And it's overwhelming, your presence;

And underwhelming, so science will be the only language I'll hide in-- For now.


At first glance, I notice your top button unbuttoned,

and your shirt fully cotton

Complete with a smile as nervous as me

And a swagger in your step only I can see

Further on, I find your wit to be at a pace

That doesn't leave any space for tension to rise

and it's all too nice

And ridiculous and a bit too suspicious

That this isn't another (well,) circus.


Now, let's take a wild guess,


Oh, but it has to be smart, yes,

That this could lead to something with potential

That this isn't another differential easily solved

With a formula, tried and tested but never evolved


For so long, we've both been independent of any dependent

Keeping our variables fixed and ourselves distracted

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With anything, everything,

But not a single thing

Could stop me from pushing this blindly to find its threshold,

Hoping that it's a quantity my hands could still hold

Over hours, days, and weeks

Through minor revisions and tweaks

Then comes the analysis -- that these weren't accidents

So, now I find myself in a conundrum

With the anomaly in a blue shirt right in front of me,

That this had to be processed logically,

But the findings are as follows:

None of which were shallow, so I therefore conclude that it's true,

I therefore conclude that it's you.


Mi Luna: The Light in My Dark Soul Locked in… Alone…

Why do I feel comforted by darkness? Oh cause maybe because… I am a jolly and very enthusiast kid back then. All I know is to have fun, laugh and play. But as I grow older, everything has changed, a lot. I can feel the changes. I know the more I get older, I’m turning to something I’m not. You know what, I just realized I like it even more. And that’s how I turned a monster. A monster to my own self. Always questioning life and even God about the things that are happening with my life. “Do I deserve this?”. Every day was a struggle. “Which mask should I wear now?”. And every night is my judgement time. “Should I still continue with my miserable life?”. This certainly sum up my whole life. I have this mindset since I was young. I can say that my experiences made me like this. I always want to escape, but every time I tried to pick up myself up, there is always shits that pulls me down. And there, I get tired. Hoping that no one would ever see this. As I despise myself as well. What I can do now is to just embraced everything, I just embraced darkness- reflecting my own self.

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“Look at the moon, it can shine alone and it can give us light at night.” A line I was keeping in my mind that a friend of mine helps me realize things and been there to fix my path. And there I started seeking for my moon but I do not know which part should I start. As days passed, I started to open up myself. I started to act as what truly inside me. It is very hard at first and there is this time that even the situation got worst. But as I continue exploring with my life, a question pop out on my head “Why did I still get this far?”, I can say that maybe I should do this, maybe I really can do this but it is myself who is holding me back because I’m afraid.

Now as far as I am trying to revive my soul, there I know that many people care. Yes, I learned to open up but not to all, on different situations there are people who can understand me because they have the same situation as I am. I learn to open up as long as they did not force me. I learned to navigate and open up for whom I trusted and at the same time when I am ready. The light that I am seeking is my own understanding and acceptance about myself. My light is myself and I am Mi Luna. So it is not too late to save myself. I have thought that, I should be a survivor and winner. That I should also be the ruler of my own mind and soul. Eliminate the room for darkness and let the light shine through you, that I can say how I earned myself again. Mi Luna’s darkness have turned to spotlight.


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