By Marivir R. Montebon
We are pulling off a second interview with the brother-sister entreprenuerial tandem of Abe Medenilla and Shanna Wallace. Since the branding of the Your Faith Looks Familiar T-shirts, business has since grown briskly in the Big Apple and beyond.
1. What’s the latest with the young brother-sister creative entrepreneurs got to offer these days?
ABE: We’re preparing new shirts that feature familiar friends in fresh designs like the one you see in our ad, Niño. New characters are also coming soon.
SHANNA: New characters, very excited about them, especially our first female figure. More collectibles, wacky webisodes and worldwide ventures.
2. Who is your mentor in this venture, especially on the ‘faith side’ and the entrepreneurial side?
ABE: Concept-wise we’re just a 2-headed creator but we do have a NY-based consultant for the purchasing and sales side.
SHANNA: It’s compelling to take the best out of of every belief system and introduce our own perspective. We take inspiration from different situations and mostly everyone in our past. Even though my siblings and I had a very religious upbringing… I for one, went to an all-girl Catholic School from 1st Grade to Senior Year in HS, we were always interested in other creeds and schools of thought. I liked questioning my personal beliefs–they’re usually challenged and upgraded or simply strengthened.
As far as the entrepreneurial side, we consult with Mercedes Gonzalez of Global Purchasing Companies. Everyone in the business of retail & fashion should make it their business to take her workshops or find her on YouTube, she’s got a wealth of useful information and is so supportive of emerging designers.
3. Is business doing good so far? What challenges?
SHANNA: The journey has been amazing, we’re getting tremendous support from our whole family as far as funding, manpower and sales. There may be a lot of competition just because of the countless shirts out there, fortunately, our original designs really standout and there is nothing in the market quite like our brand. The YFLF characters always create curious & cool conversations with whoever sees them! I’d say we have the-chicken-or-the-egg-challenge… selling in retail stores & selling to the end-use-consumer. Popular retail chains will buy in bulk if they sense a decent demand from the public & the public will demand it if they see the products in popular retail stores. Like anything in life, it’s a balancing act. We’re happy to take it on.
4. What should we look forward to as far as your faithful products are concerned?
ABE: We have only been selling in pop-up shops and that’s going fine. We want to step things up and concentrate on retail chains. We have conversations going with some stores already. We’re also looking for distributors abroad, starting with Asia. Referrals are welcome!
5. How was it like doing business in the Philippines and here? How are you both able to pull it off?
ABE: Our parents have always been negosyantes in the Philippines and have pushed us to go into business way before. Now, we are finally doing it! Also, our mom’s store in Marikina has been burned to the ground late last year. Now, she’s coming to NY to help us with the retail side. She is turning that accident into a fortunate event. Works!
SHANNA: My Mom and Dad owned two stores in the Philippines while the 5 of us were growing up. My Mom managed them on beastmode when my Dad passed on to his next life, it was incredible experiencing her thrive and still continue to make their business bloom. She taught us a lot about excellent work ethics, maintaining relationships with integrity, staying faithful & grateful, being creative… & smiling with your eyes, among others! Her name is Corazon (heart in Spanish), she’s wonderful and so inspiring, I took all her lessons to heart but never thought I would follow in her footsteps this way.
We look forward to open our own brick and mortar in Soho one day and expand the brand onwards. One of my Mom’s stores closed down years ago due to the economy and the 2nd one was ravished in flames with the town’s entire market last year…blessings-in-disguise.
We’re honored & thrilled that she’s now choosing to help us take our own business to the next level. She always says, “Papunta ka pa lang, pabalik na ako.” [You’ve just started your journey while I’m already on my way back.] Words of the wise. We’ll use her wisdom to our advantage and express gratitude in advance to where this adventure leads.