These Young Filipinas Built Their Clothing Store Businesses From The Ground Up
Their pieces are all handmade with love.
Online shopping has been a part of our daily lives since the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did it make our necessary activities more convenient (such as buying groceries and household essentials), it also became an avenue for Filipino entrepreneurs to thrive even during difficult times.
We can say the same about fashion. Through online shopping, we discovered local brands that care about their customers by creating well-thought pieces. Even more interesting is the fact that these are by young and enterprising women who juggle student life or their day jobs with their passion for creating.
Here, the Filipinas behind The Ho Label, Looped In Manila, and Kayelah Sews talk about starting a clothing business from the ground up, honing their craft, and building a community of fashion-forward individuals.
The Ho Label
If there’s one word to describe what it feels to wear The Ho Label’s pieces, it would be confident.
Sisters Noelle Labrador, 27, and Vernie Labrador, 25, saw the business as an opportunity to make a living doing the things they love. They only started sewing in June 2020, but immediately got to launch their first collection two months later.
“During the first few months of quarantine, we really got obsessed with watching YouTube and TikTok videos like everybody else,” shares Noelle. “What got our attention the most was the thrift flip videos and tutorials of all these amazing women. We were so inspired by how they turned something so simple and outdated into something so stylish and flattering.”
Their original plan was to do thrift flips of their own clothes to pass the time when they weren’t working on their corporate jobs. Well, little did they know that a year later, that hobby they did to “pass the time” would become their full-time job.
Before The Ho Label built its community of 5,000, Vernie was in the hotel industry as a Front Desk Officer, while Noelle was the Executive Manager of an education technology company. When they got busier with the business, they quit their day jobs and dedicated their time to the Label.
“We named our shop The Ho Label because over the years, we have used the term ‘ho’ in a ‘you do you, you’re gorgeous no matter what’ context. First it started with us dressing however we want, even though for others it’s a bit ‘too much’ or ‘too revealing’. And eventually we learned to pay less and less attention to the opinion of others and just did stuff that made us feel happy and confident.”
What’s beautiful about this brand is that they used a word that is considered “derogatory” and turned it into something that makes you feel absolutely badass—yes, their pieces will make you feel absolutely badass.
Aside from designing and sewing their pieces, Noelle and Vernie also conceptualize, produce, and edit their own teasers.
“We want them to be excited to flaunt their Ho Label outfits. We want to show them how fun it is to take photos and videos of yourself and just bask in your own beauty and glorious vibe,” says Noelle.
“We also get a lot of buyers who use our clothes for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, and work events. We’re super grateful that they chose our clothes for these big moments. They deserve nothing but the best service,” Vernie adds.
It’s one thing to create clothes that make those who are wearing them feel comfortable in their own skin, and it’s another to actually care about your buyer’s shopping experience by providing stellar customer service. The Ho Label chooses to do both.
For inquiries, you may reach The Ho Label on Instagram.
Looped In Manila
For 17-year-old senior high school student Angela Chen, Looped In Manila was a way to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer, while also working on her financial independence.
“I started Looped In Manila around June 2020, in the beginning of my first summer break in quarantine,” she says. “I wanted to become a fashion designer when I was younger and have been crocheting since I was 12. I’ve always loved being creative and have been constantly intrigued by how different people have their own unique styles and perceptions of beauty.”
Since she’s a full-time student, Angela works around her schedule to create handmade crochet pieces that are customized for each client. Though the designs for most orders are specific, it is Angela’s personal favorite when clients give her the creative freedom to produce unique sketches for them.
“I especially enjoy ‘tweaking’ what a client has in mind to be a little more practical to work on and really do appreciate when we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other,” shares Angela. As for the crocheting part, “It’s mainly just learning and adapting to fit a piece and figuring it out as I go.”
Angela may be young, but that didn’t stop her from paving her own way in an unfamiliar territory. Now, Looped In Manila has more than 6,000 followers and multiple orders each month. So if you’re thinking about starting a passion project too, Angela said it best: “Persist and be patient since these things take time to grow. Constantly re-evaluate your situation in order to adapt to your audience, and stay unique as well.”
And most importantly, “Just start!”
For inquiries, you may reach Looped In Manila on Instagram.
Nothing screams powerful louder than wearing corsets that hug your curves, and 21-year-old student-entrepreneur Kayelah Gomez’s clothing line is proof of this.
Kayelah Sews offers handmade corsets that are customized to accentuate your body features. It started in January this year, when designing clothes was the only thing that could make Kayelah happy and excited during the pandemic.
“Starting Kayelah Sews helped me a lot to be more responsible, and create ideas so I can produce unique pieces all over the world and contribute to the sustainable fashion industry,” she shares. “I've always loved fashion and clothes which started my passion for sewing. Because I couldn't buy designer or expensive clothes, I just make them myself instead.”
The brand became an avenue for Kayelah not only to express herself, but to help Filipinas become their most comfortable and most confident selves as well.
When asked what she would advise those who are planning to build their own brand too, Kayelah reminds us to do everything with passion.
“Be happy and love what you do, and everything will follow. Nothing grows overnight, it takes dedication and responsibility to start building something. Don't be scared! It's always better to try and see the outcome than do nothing about it.”
For inquiries, you may reach Kayelah Sews on Instagram.