Businesswoman talks about the trade in children’s wear
By Trinidad Ramos as told to Excel V. Dyquiangco
Passion is the keyword for success in any endeavor. I have so much passion for children’s clothing because I love kids and seeing them smile. I felt heaven in our midst. It was my mom who inspired me to enter the clothing business. She said: people will walk hungry but not naked so I will always have business. Besides, I love seeing kids smile wearing their favorite Ka-BOOSH outfit.
And since the Philippines is known for children’s wear, my friend and I decided to put up Ka-BOOSH Kids. The idea behind the business was conceptualized by my British friend Geoffrey Wood (Bradley Carter UK Ltd) during one of our meetings in 1994 when we attended the Kind & Jugen Fair in Cologne, Germany. We agreed that he will register and distribute the brand in whole of Europe while Ka-BOOSH Philippines, Inc. will register and distribute the brand outside Europe.
We started as a manufacturer and exporter of high quality children’s wear and we export our products to many countries abroad – the US, Africa, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, and our main market in Europe, the UK and Germany.
Children’s wear is the strength of our country at the time we started the business. We have so many skilled workers doing intricate hand smocking and embroideries so we capitalized on our greatest skills.
We first put up our store in Ayala Center in Cebu. We made it our test market because many said that the Cebuanos are wise spenders. When you succeed in this market, you can succeed anywhere in the Philippines.
Our first month in the business was very challenging. Our products before were European-inspired while the domestic counterparts were more of the American style. It is good that we easily captured the discriminating taste of our customers who value unique and high quality workmanship as well as good fabrication.
One of the challenges we faced was the lack of capital or no capital to start with as manufacturing is labor and capital intensive. During those times, the government had very good livelihood programs and they helped us with this problem. They had People’s Livelihood Enterprise Inc. (PLEI) which later became Technology & Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC). They gave startup capital to aspiring entrepreneurs and they gave machineries and other support technologies.
We also had cancellation of orders last 1997 due to late arrival of fabrics from Korea. When the Asian financial crisis hit our country, we lost so much money. It was our great downfall in the export business. We had lots of stocks and we could no longer finance our export business so we tried the domestic market.
Even now, we face many challenges. Cheap Chinese products are flooding our market. Also we do not have a textile industry so we just rely on those coming from Korea and China. But we have a very good team that is well-motivated to produce unique and high quality products that differentiate us from what is common in the market.
You must have a well-defined reason why you will enter a certain business. In our case it is our mission to provide a decent means of livelihood to many of our Filipino countrymen so even when we were losing money, just the thought that so many people are gaining from the business, we just have to go on. You must also love what you are doing. Our mission is to make a contribution to society in my small way, to make a better future for all the people working in our company, and to make difference to people’s lives.
There are also four characteristics that a good business person should possess. One is good attitude. In business or any other endeavor one must have a positive attitude at all times and treat everyone the way you want others to treat you. Love what you are doing, as the saying goes. Do what you love and the money will follow. Focus on your goal. Our company’s mission is to create more employment and give decent livelihood to our people. Despite all odds we have to go on. If not for our mission, when we lost a tremendous amount of money last 1997 we could have given up. Finally, one should have faith in God and people. It is our unwavering faith in God that unite us with our people and overcome all adversity. We believe that God will never abandon nor forsake us. God is good all the time!
Plan and save
We started in 1988 with P20,000 plus 15 machines borrowed from PLEI. Now we have two manufacturing plants run by our 200 loyal and efficient people. We have seven stand-alone boutiques: Ayala Center-Cebu, Market! Market!, Festival Mall Alabang, SM Dasmariñas Cavite; SM Sta. Rosa Laguna, SM Lipa, and SM Fairview. We have 32 concession outlets in various selected department stores nationwide.
Right now, we have many requests from our loyal customers to make teen wear and moms’ clothing. We are considering these areas of expansion to satisfy our loyal clients.
As the business is still growing, saving money is an important factor. We have learned to delay gratification, and to buy only what is necessary. It is also best to just live simply and be a good steward to God’s abundant blessings.
For anyone who would want to venture into business, you should do and make good in whatever you are doing right now. Learn the business you want to get into and always have a positive attitude in dealing with everybody. Stay focused on what you want to be. You should have big dreams and put all these dreams into action.