Young entrepreneurs promote eco-friendly shoes for women

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By KC Santos

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – These young entrepreneurs are helping indigenous textile producers through their shoe business.

Ylla Shoes is a local shoe brand owned by Indi-genuis Inc., which comprise of Kat Buyoc, Aris San Nicolas, Christopher Dy, Martin Gana, and Aldo Kho. The Ateneo De Manila University graduates started the business as the fulfillment of a business plan, which the group decided to pursue after college.

Having a former member who owned a local shoe factory, the group decided to get into women’s footwear. Kat, one of the owners, said they have since believed in the potential of indigenous and eco-friendly materials, particularly abaca, and so decided to stick with it after a year in the business.

“For our initial product line, we released three classic designs, which we initially marketed purely through word of mouth. Our customers responded very to our first wave of designs, which proved to us that indeed there is a growing market for eco-friendly products here in the Philippines,” Kat said

After their first wave of abaca designs clicked, the group worked on how to stand out from the tough competition amid the growing awareness of consumers to eco-friendly products.

“The key point in getting into the business would be the unique composition of our shoes. Given that the Philippines already has the advantage of having a wide variety of natural resources, we thought of tapping into the array of indigenous materials that are currently being produced in the country and utilize these in a fashionable and creative manner,” Kat said.

Early on in the business, Kat said the group struggled mainly with the supply of the raw materials from suppliers in Bicol and the added burden of local consumers patronizing imported products.

Abaca fiber needs to be dried up and processed before we can use them for the shoes so the rainy months of the year become especially difficult for our materials sourcing process,” she said.

Abaca when processed well is a very durable material for footwear. Kat said they treat and dye vibrant colors to make it more appealing to the tastes of the young and the hip.

“Our products send a message to the public that they too can be fashionable and be advocates of issues that threaten our environment and its preservation,” she said.

Their eco-chic footwear ranges from everyday casual to professional style. The group ensures the shoes are also comfortable without the compromising youthful style. Prices of their shoes start at P950.

Kat added that with the advent of eco-chic and affordable fashion, the people behind Ylla Shoes hope that they can continue to make more fashionable shoes for the modern Filipina while helping sustain the livelihood of local indigenous textile industries.

She said the group wants to be one of the growing number of local brands who promote and uphold fair trade practices in order to help local, marginalized indigenous textile producers move towards self-sufficiency and stability.

“Believe in your cause and follow your passion. In our case, we are driven by our long-term vision of helping local, marginalized indigenous textile producers move toward self-sufficiency and stability by building a lasting reputation in the local footwear industry as the most dynamic, dedicated and socially responsible footwear brand in the country,” Kat said.

(Photos courtesy of Kat Buyoc)

Get more information about Ylla Shoes

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