More than just pretty faces and striking physiques, models Robby Mananquil and Valerie delos Santos have proven that their passion for fashion makes for good business. They are the brains behind Street Beat Boutique (http://streetbeatboutique.multiply.com/), an online store established in 2007 that is considered a prized find among Filipinos on the lookout for edgy street, rocker-chic style.
The couple’s business started somewhat accidentally, born out of their common love for travel and shopping. “I would always buy unique accessories whenever we go abroad. One time, I bought more pieces than usual and tried selling them to my friends when I got back. They were all sold out right away, and we thought, maybe we can make a business out of something we enjoy doing,” Valerie shared. Eventually, Valerie branched out to clothes and started the Street Beat Boutique website, while Robby opened Lucid Soul Guitars (http://lucidsoulguitars.multiply.com), an online store that sells one-of-a-kind guitars that reflects his love of music.
Putting quality first
As the businesses grew bigger, the couple started going on trips exclusively to look for stylish clothes and accessories, as well as cool guitars that they can sell online. But unlike other online stores that transact with their foreign suppliers only via the Web, Robby and Valerie prefer to go old-school, flying to shopping hubs in Asia to source products themselves.
“We’re very particular about quality. When buying clothes, for example, we want to feel the fabric ourselves, and make sure that the print, trimmings, and cut are done well, before we purchase. We can’t uphold our standards just by looking at photos,” Valerie said. Quality is a non-negotiable requirement for the couple, but it also poses a challenge: it makes for additional costs. Airfare is one of their major considerations, as it can add a huge chunk into their overhead. To keep costs down, Robby and Valerie make sure to book their flights two months in advance and scour the Internet for promo fares. “It’s a good thing that Cebu Pacific regularly has seat sales,” Robby said. “With Cebu Pacific promos, we enjoy quality service and fun air travel at a fraction of the price. It’s like having the perfect business partner that understands your needs.”
To maximize their sourcing trips to the hilt, Robby and Valerie usually book red-eye flights. “We take the first flight on Day One of our shopping trip, then the red-eye flight on our final day. That gives us more time to go around and hunt for premium items,” said Valerie. “Flying with Cebu Pacific allows us to keep our prices low while upholding our quality requirements. They have the advantage of offering more travel choices, since they have the most number of flights to the biggest network of destinations in Asia,” she added. “It allows us to be the business we aspire to be, and to bring the products we’re sure our customers will enjoy at a price that won’t break the bank.”
For people who are interested in setting up their own business, the power couple has these to say, “Do what you love and be strict about quality. As a business owner, you have the responsibility to give your clients the best: the best products, the best prices,” said Robby. “Look for partners who can help you achieve your goals, who share your visions,” Valerie said. “As for us, we found an ally in Cebu Pacific.”