Words I Toni Samonte I Photos I Revoli Cortez 2017-05-30
As a little girl, Pamela “Pammy” L. Villanueva envisioned herself as a designer of sorts. It wasn’t until 2004, however, when she finally took the first step and put her talent to good use.
“I was trying to find a pair of slippers for myself, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. Out of necessity, I started to make one from scratch,” she said.
Pammy also made simple designs for a couple of friends until one day, she received an inquiry from a foreigner who saw her slippers from a friend. After some email exchanges and a few documentation, her slippers were off to cross the international dateline.
Never did the 35-year old Filipina from Bacolod imagine it was the pair of hand-made footwear that would launch Pammy Slippers into the international market.
Pammy takes pride in the high quality and durability of every pair. The soles are custom-made by a local supplier while the rest of the slippers are her personal design and handcrafted by a group of skilled workers.
Pammy Slippers are borne out of Pammy’s passion for dainty slippers. She doesn’t just follow trends; she draws inspiration from her surroundings and her own ideas, not letting the internet influence her designs. Each pair is a product of her own creativity. The intricate and unique designs have attracted buyers from all over the world, mostly Europeans and Japanese. Her slippers are also distributed in Germany, Panama, Mexico, and in the United States. Locally, they are sold in SM’s Kultura and Tesoros.
Not a Walk in the Park
For Pammy, getting into the export business, however, is no walk in the park. Rather, it’s a constant challenge of finding workers with specialized skills who can realize her designs and vision for her products. “It’s hard to find skilled workers. Young ones are not too patient. Workers must be intricate and detail-oriented. The lack of workers sometimes caused me delays in my deliveries,” she added.
While she provides staff training, there is a learning process in handcrafting slippers and training should be continuous. With just ten workers, supplying demand during the peak season proves difficult. Production starts in December and usually lasts until May, in time for the summer season. This year, given the labor constraints, she was forced to accept a relatively smaller number of orders compared to the previous years.
Amid the challenges, Pammy is undeterred. “I plan to continue penetrating the international footwear industry by participating in bazaars and expos every year,” she says.
It has been 11 years since she started participating in expos such as Manila FAME. She became an exhibitor in the 2007 Fashion Access at the Hong Kong Convention Center. In 2010, she was able to exhibit in Germany, Italy, and New York.
She admits that marketing her slippers is quite challenging given the cheap prices of China exports. In fact, the Philippine footwear exports business represents only 0.1% of the total export industry. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), however, reported a noticeable improvement in this sector, from $2 million last March 2016, sales tripled to $6 million year-on-year.
With promising prospects for Philippine footwear exports, Jane isn’t taking a step back. Armed with a pair of slippers, her innate ingenuity and passion, she is determined to conquer the world, one small step at a time.
How to Break into the Export Market like Pammy
If you are like Pammy and wants to venture into the export business, here are some helpful tips:
- Register your business with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
- Secure a business permit with your municipality and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
- Attend seminars or training courses that will introduce you to the dynamics of exporting, letters of credit, negotiating with the foreign buyers, and other courses. The Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) offers courses on these topics.
- Familiarize yourself with the export procedure: http://www.dti.gov.ph/19-main-content/dynamic/135-export-essentials.
- Upon receipt of a purchase order from a foreign buyer, immediately send him a proforma invoice for confirmation. An order is confirmed when the proforma invoice is signed and returned to you by the buyer.
- Payment for exports is normally made through the banks. The foreign buyer’s interest in the Philippines is represented by a local authorized agent bank, which is designated by the foreign buyer’s bank. The local Authorized Agent Bank (AAB) will assist you in negotiating the collection of the payment for your exports.
- The AAB will explain all the instructions on your shipment to ensure its acceptability for payment. Make sure you understand all the instructions provided by the bank. If the instructions are written in a non-English language, ask the bank to give you an official translation in English or to officially recognize a translation of the instructions, if the translation was made by someone other than the bank.
- Exporters may be paid through banks by means letters of credit (L/C), documents against payment (D/P), documents against acceptance (D/A), open account (O/A), cash against documents (CAD), prepayment/export advance, intercompany open account, offset arrangement, consignment, or telegraphic transfer. You may or may not need outside financing to produce export products ordered by the buyer. However, should you find the need for outside financing, you can either tap the assistance of government or non-government financial institutions.
- When you are ready to ship, fill up an Export Declaration (ED) form. Sample ED forms are available at Export Marketing Bureau, DTI provincial offices, Bureau of Customs Processing Units, One-Stop Export Documentation Center (OSEDC), and PHILEXPORT offices.
- Secure an export commodity clearance/export permit from the proper government commodity office, if your product is included in the list of regulated products for exportation or if the buyer requires.
- With the required supporting documents, submit the accomplished ED form to the BOC Processing Unit for the approval of the Authority to Load (AL).
Owner/Designer: Pamela L. Villanueva
59 Carolina Street, Santa Clara Executive Village, Bacolod City, Philippines
Tel. No. +63 34 441 1893
Toni Samonte is a freelance virtual professional and full-time single mom. She provides online content from design to copy, for a number of U.S. startups. You may reach her at email@example.com.