Words and Photos I KATT PASCUAL
For 37-year-old Jordan Simon, braving the world of business is better than joining the country’s growing BPO workforce. Now, he has a flourishing garments company and his own four-story building.
Persistence pays off, and this couldn’t be any more evident in the tough, trying environment of entrepreneurship.
When he was in his mid-20s, Jordan Simon already made the self-discovery after a string of barely successful ventures. As a young boy, Jordan sold candies to classmates, collected soda bottles to get container deposits in the neighborhood store, and rented out family computer games to friends.
It wasn’t until years later when he found his place in the sun. He set up a T-shirt printing and garments company, which now boasts of its own four-story facility and steadily flourishing operations.
Walking into his 180-square meter production facility in Pasig City, I was greeted by the smell of efficiency (they use safe, water-based paint), nimble hands manually counting school and corporate uniform orders, and the owner looking rather inconspicuous in a casual shirt and jeans ensemble.
“I prefer working this way. I took a business course in college, but hardly looked like it on most days,” he said, as he gave me a quick tour of the premises, which includes a small photo studio and a mural painting corner (another venture he started in late 2015).
No walk in the park
Like other well-educated young Filipinos aspiring to put up their own business, Jordan didn’t find it a walk in the park facing uncertainty and the pressures of independence and financial stability.
“I got to a point where I was already submitting my resume to different companies,” Jordan recalled. At 26, he tried to land a stable source of income. The Philippine call center industry was still in its infancy then.
“I almost worked at a BPO company, but until now, I still couldn’t see myself being employed. I had to follow my gut feel about making it on my own.”
Using little cash left after splitting the assets of a billiard hall with two partner-friends (a venture that simply broke even), Jordan tried organizing parties in clubs for a year, and worked again with college pals selling corporate giveaways and office supplies. It was when he went solo that he started to strike it rich. With just a 5,000-peso initial working capital spent on silkscreen, squeegee, and paint, he started his T-shirt printing venture.
At his parents’ garage in 2006, Jordan printed 150 shirts a day, which, by year’s end, had reached 300 or more in daily capacity. Much to his amazement (and to the occasional chagrin of his mother, who saw the growing operations take over the family garage), his volume gradually grew and business began pouring in.
“In that garage space, I started out by making one printing table and then doing some marketing to friends, relatives, and on the Internet,” he said. It didn’t take some time for him to occupy a bigger workspace in his family’s residential property.
From a capacity of 300 pieces 10 years ago, his company now churns out 2,000 shirts a day. From five sewing machines, it now uses 30 to 40 machines. And from having one company staff when it started out, his business now employs 15 production workers and office staff.
As the slippers-clad Jordan paced around the room inspecting the day’s operations, I wondered: Did this guy expect his future to involve the straightforward, no-frills environment of silkscreen printing and producing ready-to-wear by the bulk?
“My first exposure to silkscreen printing was a course I flunked back in high school. Who would have thought (I’ll make a living out of it)? Definitely not me!” he said.
Onto the retail landscape
Now with a steady track record of growth for 10 years, his BizShirts now sports an expanding range of products and services. The B2B enterprise caters to individual and corporate clients requiring silkscreen printing, uniforms and ready-to-wear, jackets and sportswear, and personalized items like shirts, bags, and umbrellas. Jordan’s customer base today includes big local fashion brands positioned in malls and department stores nationwide.
At 37, Jordan is proud of his small company’s unique differentiator in a relatively saturated local market. “I invest heavily in equipment to ensure good range and quality, and offer my clients the flexible terms that they would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.”
He also makes it a point to constantly nourish his professional relationship with each one of his clients and personally deal with them, as his business is anchored on word of mouth and recommendations from existing customers.
I saw how he also takes good care of his employees, who live on one floor of the building. They not just have a comfortable roof over their heads (as most of them come from the provinces), but also enjoy the amenities — a TV, a small gym, and the near-24/7 internet connection — that Jordan provided his staff.
There’s no stopping Jordan from conquering the retail world by launching his own clothing brand. The young entrepreneur, also a savvy racing enthusiast and self-described foodie, is also eyeing niche segments such as premium sportswear.
“I’m heading towards that direction, and hopefully I can get there by next year,” he said.
It is no small feat to make it in the retail arena, where plenty of local and international players are already fiercely competing for market share. But thanks to passion, healthy risk taking, discipline, and strong ambition, Jordan is not just surviving, but thriving and aspiring big.
Address: JGS1 #8 Riverside Drive, Ortigas Avenue Extension, Pasig City
Telephone: +632 7483168; (Mobile) +63 9175204182
Katt Pascual is a freelance writer, editor, and communications specialist. She writes for Writers Edge, an editorial services firm that is behind iSME.ph, and provides online content marketing for a number of Australian SMEs. You may reach her at email@example.com.