“I think the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse is [expletive],” Nicole said, revealing the competitive spirit that belies the adorable nature of her jackets. “If you know what you want to do, your actions will become more streamlined… Whatever happens, you get up, dress up, and show up.”
Nicole was studying at the University of Asia and the Pacific in Manila when she, one day, decided she wanted a hoodie with ears. She wanted such a hoodie so much that, when she found a supplier willing to manufacture her Panda-themed hoodie, cute little bear ears and all, at a hundred-piece minimum order, she went for it. Keeping one hoodie for herself, she packed the other ninety-nine into some luggages, brought them to school, and began selling them to whomever would take a look.
“Do you know the saying, ‘necessity is the mother of innovation’?” Nicole asks, referring to that moment as the birth of Authority Hoodie!
It was the first of many designs for her line of “pop culture hoodies”. Drawing inspiration from movies, TV, and various faces of pop culture, the jackets certainly catch the eye of a niche market that wants to wear their fandom. In the four years since AH! started, she’s had hoodies inspired by the Gameboy, Katy Perry’s Left Shark, DC Superheroes, and more.
When she realized she was on to something, she came up with the name Authority Hoodie! to grab attention with the AH! acronym. But the tough work was just beginning for the entrepreneur student, in part because of one little detail: “I don’t know anything about sewing hoodies!”
So, without any sort of fashion or apparel manufacturing background, Nicole dedicated the growth of her business to good, old-fashioned elbow grease. She did her research on fabrics, looking into the best places to acquire the material. She spoke with every supplier on quality control standards. She worked through the weekends, personally setting up shop when AH! moved beyond its online store and started selling in pop-up booths near mall cinemas.
Nicole also points to how directly communicating with her customers fast-tracked her business’s growth. She made conscious efforts to ask people wearing her hoodies – whether it was over online, or on the floor of local Comic Cons – what they thought. It’s free information, she argues; the customers wanted thinner cloth, so she went on to use thinner cloth.
And how did she manage doing all that, mostly as a sole proprietor? “I woke up at 6:00 AM, everyday,” she says. “I work out in the morning to jumpstart my day.”
Clearly, the only way to have time for everything she needed to push AH! was to make more time: “I think the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse is [expletive],” she said, revealing the competitive spirit that belies the adorable nature of her jackets. “If you know what you want to do, your actions will become more streamlined… Whatever happens, you get up, dress up, and show up.”
And what’s next for Nicole? Well, proclaiming that fashion and social entrepreneurship are her two biggest passions, she wants to help the Philippine industry grow in that regard. It need not just be a manufacturing center for high-quality clothing worldwide, she says; it could be a center of creativity as well. She’s already pushing that through Authority Hoodie! which, gets its material, design, and labor from Pinoy sources as much as possible.
Her advice for budding entrepreneurs? She’s got three:
“One, know who you are and what you love doing. I cannot stress how massively important self-awareness is. Take the time to find yourself and know the purest form of who you are.
“Two, work hard at it, and try to be the best at it. The best, ever, if possible.
“And three, be patient… You’ve heard this and it’s true: the universe will conspire to help you.”
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