DESCRIBING the post-pandemic as an opportunity to “restart,” young entrepreneur Chase Cokaliong is going aggressive this year, investing P55 million in various businesses.

In an interview, Cokaliong said his multi-million investment this year to fund the expansions of existing businesses and the launching of new ones against a backdrop of a recovering local economy.

“I believe in the saying that it’s important to be first. In whatever product you sell, even if you have a close competitor that is offering exactly the same quality that you’re offering, consumers will pick you because you were the first one to offer it,” said Cokaliong, who also works as the vice-president for fleet operations and human resource manager of shipping giant and family-owned Cokaliong Shipping Lines Inc.

Cokaliong’s latest business venture is Omerta Bespoke, the first bespoke tailoring store in the Visayas which opened on Feb. 26, 2023, at Streetscape Mall in Banilad, Cebu City. Together with Manila partners John Aaron Reconquista, Omerta’s master tailor, and Brian Llamanzares, this high-end tailoring shop aims to elevate Cebu’s creative offering, allowing clients to personally choose how they want their suits to be done from the kind of textile to use down to the designs of the button.

A bespoke suit, according to Cokaliong, takes three to four months to make. Given the length of time to make, he said, one can already see the extent of the craftsmanship that is involved in the creation process.

“Our suits are really meticulously done,” he said.

The entry-level price of a bespoke suit is from P35,000 to as high as P1 million, depending on the kind of textile that is used. A standard suit, on the other hand, costs at least P15,000 and takes about two weeks to be made.

According to Cokaliong, suit measurements are done in Cebu and are forwarded to Manila for Reconquista, Omerta’s master tailor to put together. The initial piece is sent to Bangkok, Thailand for the final assembly (which covers the intricate and detailed hand stitching) and is sent back to the Philippines as a final product.

“It’s like doing a suit abroad at an affordable price. But you don’t need to travel to get one,” he said.

Cokaliong said bringing Omerta Bespoke to Cebu is something that the province needs, especially since there is no concept such as Omerta’s that is being offered here at the moment.

“We’d like to give more options to the Cebuanos, especially if they want their own ideas to be executed in the suit they’d like to wear,” he said, adding that having access to the various types of fabrics and textile swatches is already an advantage.

Cokaliong’s family also owns Chester Enterprises, a one-stop shop for textile needs established in 1966 in Cebu.

Other businesses

Meanwhile, besides Omerta Bespoke, Cokaliong is also venturing into new businesses like co-working spaces and photo studio space for rent as well as party rental services for kids. He is also expanding his existing storage and gym businesses.

Cokaliong leased the entire 1,800 square-meter basement space of Horizons 101, a condo tower development located along Gen. Maxilom Avenue in Cebu City and sub-divided it to house his four businesses—the second branch of CrossFit Subtero which opened on March 6; the third branch of StorageTown, which is opening in April; and the first branch of Nest co-working space and photo studio, which are scheduled for opening in June. The co-working space can accommodate 168 people. There are also meeting rooms for rent. The photo studio space, on the other hand, can be rented for various photoshoot sessions and as a venue for gallery shows.

The Little Play Factory, meanwhile, is a business handled by Cokaliong’s wife Tritzie, that provides creative, safe, interactive and fun play for kids whose play zone and activities can be mounted in both indoor and outdoor spaces. This new venture will be launched on March 19.

“Pandemic for me is a restart. A lot of entrepreneurs are starting (their ventures) from scratch. But I believe that the economy will recover sooner or later,” said Cokaliong.