THEY say when you are at the peak of your career, challenges are bound to happen to either destroy you or make you stronger. For Cagayan de Oro fashion designer Ann Semblante, it takes the support of your family and friends and strong faith in God to overcome them.
Semblante has never seen herself as someone who will choose cooking and managing their beach resort in Bohol despite graduating with a bachelor degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Around 15 years ago, she started her profession as a ramp model. However, as years went by, Ann realized that she cannot continue being a ramp model forever. It was then she decided to pursue her passion: fashion.
It was something that came to her after helping her mom who was a fashion jewelry designer based in Sweden. Semblante often acted as her mother’s assistant, traveling and visiting a lot of places to acquire materials for the fashion jewelry business.
It was also her mom who infuenced her to put up a business based on what she loves and passionate about.
Through undergoing lessons in dressmaking and designing at Soriano Beauty and Fashion School, Semblante was able to find the focus for her designs, which is female wear, particularly in lingerie.
According to Ann, lingerie is much easier and less complicated to make than the blouses and other clothes. She's also inspited by the Victoria Secret Fashion Show as she only got to see bikini fashion shows in the country.
In 2007, Ann began to design lingerie and organizing fashion shows during fiestas in Cagayan de Oro in August and Iligan City in September.
Five years later, she “upgraded” her fashion skills in the Fashion Institute of the Philippines, where her sketching skills was enhanced and she was able to create ready-to-wear outfits.
She saw the difference between making lingerie and gowns, particularly in the income side as she got more customers through creating and designing gowns rather than focusing only on lingerie.
As such, in 2011, Ann poured her creative skills into making gowns, suits and ready-to-wear clothes. She even opened her first passion business: House of A.
House of A is a one-stop fashion and beauty shop, located along RN Abejuela Street, on top of Dunkin Donuts branch in Divisoria, where you can rent and buy gowns and suits and at the same time provides the beauty needs of women such as hairstyling, makeup, eyelash extensions and nails.
Initially, her firs branch was located in Nazareth and now its her production area.
Most of her clients, apart from soon-to-be married couples, are students and young professionals who wanted gowns or suits for debuts, prom night, graduation ball and other events.
With her successful pursuit in her passion, one might say she finally got her life on track and nothing can stand in the way of her blinding career.
However, it was not in fashion that she got the biggest challenge of her life. It was in love.
Circumstances happened that made her down, however her faith in God put her back on track, back to her passion, back to fashion.
She may have the love of her life but she also has the love from her family and friends who she knew will take good care of her during her dark times.
Bringing back her enthusiasm in fashion, Ann has been planning on going back to organizing lingerie fashion shows apart from her gown and suit designing.
She also plans to study more in fashion and design abroad as she believed that education is important in improving her skills and career.
Although at present, she’s focused more on her business, the House of A, and her duties as this year’s chairman of the Mindanao Fashion Summit.
Life can be ironic, although some finds it cruel, with it hitting you with the good times and the bad. However, it also takes a determined heart and a lot of support to come out of it stronger.