Business,  Interview

Abakada: Filipino Inspired Streetwear |INTERVIEW|

How are you? Tell us a little a bit about yourself?

Hi, I am Arvin. I was born in the Philippines, but I am currently living in Chicago (IL).

Tell us about your business!

What does Abakada mean to you and why did you chose to name your brand after it?

Me and my co-owner (Calvin) we were having a get together with our friends one night, we were just having a normal conversation. He is into shoes and hype stuff, and creating a brand just popped up in our conversation. We decided to work together and chose Abakada as a name. We thought that there is not a streetwear brand that is Filipino based here in the United States, so why can’t we be the first one. We wanted to create something that will also represent our culture, thats when Baybayin came up (one of our ancient Filipino writing script). We want to transform this beautiful ancient writing script we have into streetwear.

Why did you choose streetwear to promote an ancient writing script from the Philippines?

We were in our first meeting, we were just browsing and looking at other streetwears. We usually look at the streetwear brands they have in the Philippines, which is a big inspiration to us. They have incredible stuff that doesn’t get enough credit. Me and Calvin were brainstorming, we thought that any language on a shirt would look cool. You would see shirts that have Japanese writings on them, why not put one of our own ancient writing script. I tried it out, I designed a few shirts that has some Baybayin on it and it turned out great so we decided to stick with that.

What is your biggest achievement?

One of our biggest achievement was doing a collab with Bata Sole, which is a non-profit organization that helps/donate shoes to impoverished communities. For every shirt we sold that release, we donated a pair of shoes to them. We ended up donating 22-26 pairs, which they’re going to donate this year to the kids in the Philippines. Just the fact that we’re helping out kids in the Philippines, its a heart warming feeling already. Shout out to Bata Sole, much love to you guys.

What was one of your biggest struggles?

Our biggest struggle overall is starting the brand from scratch, we have to build our own community, which type of shirt should we use, where to print our shirts and all that. We will get shirt defects here and there, we would ran out of materials, print errors. There is always a risk when you start your own business so we were always up for that challenge.

What does the Filipino Community mean to you?

The Filipino community means a lot to us, we both grew up in the Philippines so the tradition and culture was always a big thing to us. We’re both glad that we brought that with us here in the United States. As we expand our brand, we get to meet new people, attend more filipino events and we learn new things about our culture as we move on.

What do you miss most about the Philippines?

Oh man, this is a hard one. I would say the food, but we have some of that here in the US (even though it doesnt taste exactly the same). I’ll go with Christmas in the Philippines, its way better there than here for sure. The food, the excitement you get as a kid for aguinaldos, whole lot of parols everywhere, the simbang gabis, of course the gifts and more. The people you spend it with over there, your friends and family makes it way better and of course more festive than here. Filipinos always go all out in the Philippines when it comes to Christmas.

What are your future plans?

Our future plan is simple. To have a bigger community, better quality, and help more people through events, releases and all that. For sure one of our goal is a pop up shop, or even own our own shop one day. The possibilities are endless.

Any advice you want to give to other entrepreneurs?

Main advice would be take care of your supporters because they will always be there for you as your business grows. Trial and error, always be down to risk something if you know it will work out. Stick to your vision and your goals, it will all pay off as long as you work hard for it. Last thing is that there is always improvement on your work, nothing is perfect so always ask yourself what can I do better as you move on.

Any last thing you want to plug?

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of your website. Shout out to all of our supporters since day 1. We can’t thank you guys enough, we appreciate it a lot. Our next release will be this May, also stay tuned for restocks. Thank you guys!