FOUR young Cebuano startup entrepreneurs have big dreams for Cebu--to help Cebu earn a spot in the global men’s fashion industry.
But to get there is a big challenge for both public and private sectors, said Elated Industries financial head Don Gerardo Frasco. He said that while entrepreneurs have huge dreams for their businesses to be known globally, government intervention is important, especially in addressing the gaps in the value chain.
Frasco together with Carlos Miguel Canga, Ralph Vincent Lapus and Mikey Walls formed Elated Industries, a homegrown startup company the produces a premium men’s fashion line.
Aside from sourcing some raw materials abroad, the team collaborates with the cottage industry of skilled sewers and stitchers, mostly women, for their clothing collection.
“We have the capability to manufacture clothes. We may not have the textile industry here, but we have the skill. However, nobody pushes for the next level, such as making sure of the quality of the craftsmanship,” said Lapus. “That is why we seriously collaborate with them to make sure we produce the high quality clothing line.”
The founders of Elated Industries are advocates of local manufacturing. They believe that the fashion industry is an employment generator. “Getting this business right is not only for us but for Filipino workers too. If we are to grow, we intend to keep the manufacturing here in Cebu,” said Frasco.
From producing pocket tees with attachable pocket squares in a Hyper Cebu event in 2014 and setting up a pop-up booth at the new wing of Ayala Center Cebu early this year, the team was able to secure a permanent and premium location in the mall adjacent to premium international clothing brands— a brave move—according to Canga.
“It’s scary every day (knowing that we are still a baby company). However you’ve got to start somewhere. What we know is that we are passionate about this business and we have a vision on where this concept would head,” said Frasco.
Elated Industries’ long term goal is to bring the brand abroad. Frasco underscored that even at the early stage of the business, the team is already eyeing the international market as their future playground.
“We plan to produce the items here but sell them across the globe,” said Lapus.
Except for Frasco, who is a graduate of filmmaking abroad and accountancy in Cebu, Lapus, Canga and Walls are physical therapy graduates. They all left their full-time jobs to pursue the business. Walls and Canga handle the design aspect at Elated while Lapus and Frasco are in charge of production and financial/accounting, respectively.
Unlike fast fashion brands, Elated is a design-led brand. They sell polo shirts, pocket tees, tailor-made jeans and other fashion accessories for men.
“We plan to get better with our collection each season. We are also on the lookout for possible partnerships with retail stores that could carry our items,” Frasco said.
Aside from their physical presence inside a mall, the team is also aggressive in social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram.
Canga said the being online will help them introduce the brand especially to young professionals, who are their target market.