Tish Sevilla: There’s no business like ‘shoebusiness’

WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo - The Philippine Star
Tish Sevilla: There�s no business like �shoebusiness�
Shoe and bag designer Tish Sevilla.

Tish Sevilla is one of the few local shoe and bag designers/manufacturers who continue to keep the local shoe industry alive with her eponymous label, despite foreign-made shoes and bag brands now easily available in our malls and through social media. Growing up seeing her parents in the garment industry gave Tish the interest to get into the fashion business.

At present, Tish manages a small workshop in Marikina and Cainta, where she designs and produces fashionable shoes for all occasions. Helping her are 10 hardworking workers — men and women who see to it that comfortable shoes of the best quality are readily available and custom-made for us to wear and be proud of. Having been in the shoe industry for the last 10 years and surviving the COVID crisis, Tish strongly believes this is where she belongs, and she is happiest being able to continue to help our local artisans and promote locally made shoes and bags.

Being in the fashion business was a childhood dream. “Growing up, I was obsessed with all sorts of glossy fashion magazines that I could literally spend hours every day just browsing through pages.  Literally excited me each time!” shares Tish.  “I have to strongly agree that our local products have high competence both here and abroad. Our growing knowledge for local products led individuals, especially the influential ones, to patronize and carry our brands as a representation of our culture.”

When asked if the local shoe industry is doing well her quick reply was, “I will speak for myself as an entrepreneur and designer that yes, our local shoe industry is making a mark locally and paving its way globally. The good feedback and reviews I constantly receive and the recurring orders from customers, plus the opportunities overseas, I have to say, are a manifestation that we are doing well.”

But, as with most micro, small and medium enterprises, she believes that private and government support play a very important role for their business to flourish. Government support will definitely give access to a wider audience and the market will open opportunities for them and our local artisans who work for them. Plus, the influence coming from government can be a big help to introduce and increase awareness for our locally made shoes.

Tish manages a workshop in Marikina and Cainta.

Tish continues to dream big for this industry, which includes the chance to penetrate the international market. Tish tell us, “I see that with the right machinery and equipment, we can be at par with Italian brands. So I hope the trading industry will give attention to this area and who knows, our local brand will soon be a household name in the fashion industry globally.”

Here are Tish’s 10 thoughts on how to showcase locally made shoes in the global market:

1. The use of the digital platform is currently the fastest and most convenient way of advertising our products. Social media is free. People engage on social media every single day.

2. Collaboration with other, equally talented artists opens a wider market and audience.

3. We anchor on the influence our clients have as they wear our brand. Our clients share on their own platforms my creations and share their review/feedback. These influential people add value to our brand, as well as help us expand our community and access to other potential customers.

4. Still, the glossy pages of magazines or lifestyle broadsheet sections allow designers like me to push my creativity. People still read. Anything to do with brand marketing is an opportunity to market your products.

5. As an exclusive brand that hasn’t delved into the mainstream, fashion and lifestyle features are another great way to express my ideas that define the brand and attachment to our local products. Today’s generation is hungry for self-expression and thus, individuality. Being able to help them express themselves through arts or, in the case of my business, customize their footwear based on their personality, is already empowering.

6. Exhibits organized by the communities that uphold the cultural diversity we embody is also another opportunity to cultivate our strong, artistic talents. Most exhibits are invitational.  Usually these are events organized by different LGUs or group artists here and abroad.

7. Going mainstream could be every business-minded individual’s goal but artisanal creation such as my shoe selection is an empowering method of showing character and personality.

8. Storytelling my journey as a creator is another compelling opportunity that encourages people from all walks of life. Some artists prefer to be behind the limelight to keep their identity yet still be able to sell their brand or creation. These days, I learned that one way of spreading hope and empowerment is to be open to conversations, whether it’s a small gathering or in front of the cameras.

9. Participation in sponsored events is another effective way to reach potential clientele and introduce your brand.

10. Featuring designs that empower people through product quality is a strong representation of our brand values that is unique. This is one of the easiest ways to connect and showcase our diverse culture.



(We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @monsromulo.)

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