Wife turns fashion hobby into promising businessBy Aileen Garcia-Yap
Cebu Daily News
As a woman, it is but natural for Belle S. Mangubat to be “kikay” and fashion conscious. She did not however expect that her “kakikayan” would eventually become a business that she and her husband now run for five years.
“Before I really like to create cute accessories for my own use and also sell them to my friends if they like any of my creations,” Mangubat, who is in her mid-30s, said adding she was not seriously into making her hobby a business then.
It went on that way for many years and it was just something that she would make out of some extra money as well as her way to relieve stress.
One day in 2006 however, one of Mangubat’s friends told her about an aunt based in Manila who is into exporting.
Her friend then encouraged Mangubat to send her samples to her aunt just to try if her works would be acceptable for markets abroad.
Among all her samples, two necklaces got orders when her friend’s aunt joined an exhibit in Frankfurt in Germany.
“I got orders for 5,000 pieces each for each of the two necklaces. That started my business then in 2006 which I called Body Vive,” said Mangubat.
For her first investment, Mangubat said she only had to shell out P50,000 to make all the orders and send them to her clients.
The P50,000 investment more than doubled when she got her full payment for her products.
This encouraged Mangubat to focus on the business.
“This business requires really that creativity and honestly that’s all I got when I started. I source the raw materials locally but it’s the process of putting them together and combining every segment, colors and shapes that will make a product a work of art,” Mangubat said.
Soon Mangubat was already supplying accessories including necklaces, bangles, rings, earnings and more to the export company of her friends aunt.
“It started that way until we eventually evolved and added another segment of the business in 2009,” she said.
It was in that year when Mangubat decided to try out the local market for her products.
That decision however did not come as something she had always thought of to do. Instead it was borne out of a crisis that shook her export business starting in 2008 when the economy in her major markets – the US and Europe – started to become unstable.
“Our revenues slowed down due to economic crisis. First it was in the U.S. and then Europe followed,” she said.
According to Mangubat, she started by joining one of the exhibits organized by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2007 under their One Town, One Product (OTOP) program.
“Over the years of supplying for our export clients, I gained a lot of extra components for my accessories which I then used to create other designs targeted for the local market. Surprisingly, the local market accepted my products and that’s when I thought that I can also tap the local market,” said Mangubat.
The local market has become more inclined to fashion with most ladies nowadays even as young as elementary students are already wearing accessories.
“That’s the trend I saw and considered an opportunity that I cannot just overlook,” said Mangubat.
In 2009, Mangubat then opened her first local outlet under a new brand called Embellish Fashion Hub and Accessories at the 2nd floor of Parkmall at the Mandaue Reclamation Area.
Aside from accessories, Mangubat also sells clothes for women in her outlet.
Average prices of her accessories which is a combination of metals, shells, wood, plastics and more as raw materials is at P250.
One can also buy this time’s trend necklace with a peacock feather at only P150 each.
“For the clothes, I go to Bangkok to shop for good fashion finds that I can sell in my shop,” she said.
For her operations, Mangubat usually makes the designs of her accessories and then have them sub-contracted to other people.
“My business is still home-based and I’m hoping that I can eventually grow into a huge company with my own manufacturing facility. For now we are doing subcontracting which still helps provide livelihood to other people,” said Mangubat.
According to Mangubat, their export company Body Vive is now managed by her husband Jude while she takes care of Embellish.
“My plan really in the future is to join in international shows. I’m just waiting now for the right timing to do that. I’m closely looking at the economic prospects and which countries I can tap for my products,” said Mangubat.
For now, Mangubat said that she is also trying to grow the brand so that the local market will know what Embellish is and will eventually become a brand that they will prefer for their accessory needs.