Legacy of handcrafted excellence: Bristol Shoes’ owner shares recipe of success

Legacy of handcrafted excellence: Bristol Shoes’ owner shares recipe of success

SME Inspirations

UnionBank Publication

UnionBank Publication

21 Aug 2020, 13:30 — 6 min read

Enterprise: Bristol Shoes & Shoe Factory
Founder-Partner: Erlinda D. Abacan
Industry: Fashion - Footwear
Year it was founded: 1978
Location: Marikina, Philippines

 

Seeing the tireless work of her parents in establishing Bristol Shoes, Erlinda Abacan took over the business after her parents decided to retire.


Although she wasn’t immersed in the world of shoemaking before, she accepted the opportunity to manage the business as her way to give back to her parents while raising her two kids.


From offering handcrafted made-to-order shoes, Erlinda managed to rebrand Bristol Shoes as a ready-to-wear brand in 1982, leading many of the brand’s iconic designs.


Starting out from their humble production under the roof of their modest home, Bristol Shoes then moved to a bigger production and later on opened their first branches in Marikina Shoe Expo, Cubao, and Landmark Makati.


In conversation with the GlobalLinker (GL), Erlinda Abacan (EA) shares her business journey.

GL: Tell us a bit about your business journey

EA:  My parents were both shoe factory workers in Marikina while I was growing up. My siblings and I weren’t immersed in the world of shoemaking and we all had different interests at that time. When my youngest sister graduated from college, my parents decided to fulfill their dreams of owning their own shoe factory. They used the space below our house as a start, which was the usual style of shoe factories then (silong-silong style).


It was only when I had my second child that I decided to help out in my parents’ business. It was an opportunity for me to give back to them for all their tireless work to support us and also an opportunity to spend time raising my two kids then.


GL: Tell us about your unique challenges that you have faced working on this enterprise

EA: A great challenge I faced was when the factory and its workers were passed on to me. The shoemakers of my parents were used to a certain style of working, which was different to what I wanted. I remember there were a lot of heated arguments with them but eventually, we learned to listen and adjust to one another. 


GL: How many women workers do you have and what jobs and responsibilities do they have? What is the ratio between men and women?

EA: We have 24 women out of 50 workers in our company. They mostly are assigned to the upper making department for their soft touch, keen eye for details and sewing skills.


Even though I cater to the opposite gender, I’ve learned a lot from my father: quality matters over anything else.

 

 

GL: As a woman, was it harder or easier to face this challenge?

EA: I’ve been asked before on what authority did I have to run a company that mainly manufactures men’s shoes. Even though I cater to the opposite gender, I’ve learned a lot from my father: quality matters over anything else.


This is why I’ve set up a very experienced product research and development team. We constantly test our products with a fitting system established to take into account the different widths of men’s feet. I’ve instilled a teamwork system that values their opinion and suggestions. I’ve also developed a culture in our company that each worker is responsible for checking the quality of the previous step. If you create a work environment that values the work of one another, it doesn’t matter what your gender is because the whole company operates as unit and not as an individual.


Bristol Shoes employees



GL: Do you think that there are things in our Pinoy culture that prevent women from becoming entrepreneurs?

EA: Honestly, I don’t see gender when it comes to establishing a business. I always believe success in opening your own business doesn’t matter what your gender is – what matters is your ability and your drive to do your best. 


GL: What is the unique advantage of being a woman in business?

EA: Perhaps, one of women’s advantages in business is our ability to multitask. The ability to multitask is such an advantage when it comes to business because when you’re the owner of a company, you have to pay attention to the different departments that have their own functionalities.

GL: How has your enterprise established and empowered women?

EA: By establishing a work environment where their work and opinions are valued.


If you create a work environment that values the work of one another, it doesn’t matter what your gender is because the whole company operates as a unit and not as an individual.



GL: What message can you share with others, especially other women who are looking to achieve their own dreams.

EA: If you’re just starting, always have your end goal in sight – align different factors to what you visualize for your own business. In everything you do, you do your best and never settle for ‘okay na yan’ mentality. Quality in your products is what will keep your loyal customers and gain new ones along the way.


To find out more about Erlinda’s products, you can visit her online store here (bristolshoes.linker.store) Buy local; support women-led enterprise!

Bristol Shoes employees

Also read: Create your own online store on UnionBank GlobalLinker for free


To explore business opportunities, link with Erlinda Abacan by clicking on the 'Connect' button on her profile.

 

Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the members

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