From High Fashion to Casual, Quality Remains the Star at Pelina Shoes

PIO Department


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“They are durable and very comfortable,” is how Carolina Tiamzon Marquez describes her array of shoes, mostly flats, sandals and step-in, open-toe slippers. These are also the reasons why her products remain popular to this day.

Carolina, who owns Pelina together with her husband, Pepe, has been in the shoe business since 1978. The brand Pelina was taken from couple’s names: Pepe and Lina, preceding today’s young love teams in local show business who combine their names together such as Joshlia (for Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto) to delight their fans.

The company used to supply high fashion (high heels and all) to SM and other retailers. It decided to stick to flats and casual shoes since these are easier to make, though the quality of the footwear remains. They are sturdy and last for years, says Carolina, pointing out that it is mostly their satisfied customers who tell her that.

Casual and flat shoes are also easier to sell, she adds.

“Before we used to do high fashion. We made shoes with heels. But we became comfortable making doll shoes, step-in and sandals. They are all flats. Whatever style and designs of flat shoes, sandals and step-in that we come up with, they sell right away,” she says.

Today, Pelina supplies footwear solely to Rusty Lopez after it stopped supplying to SM in 1995. It also sells to wholesalers from all around the country (Tuguegarao, Bicol, Davao, Tacloban just to name a few) as well as individual customers who troop to its shop slash factory on Dragon St. in Marikina, the country’s Shoe Capital.

A Family of Shoemakers

Growing up in her parents’ shoe factory, Carolina says she has been making shoes since she was a child. Unlike other owners of shoe manufacturing firms, she says she can make shoes, sandals and step-in slippers.

A graduate of business management at the University of the East, she never thought of working in other companies or branch out into other industries.

“I never worked for others. I have always been interested in this business. In fact, after I learned how to make shoes, I apprenticed at my cousin’s bag manufacturing company just to learn how to make bags,” Carolina says.

After she married Pepe, a banking and finance graduate at the National College for Business Administration, who also had his own shoe manufacturing business just like Carolina when she was still single, they put up Catmar (Carolina Tiamzon Marquez), which eventually became Pelina in 1989.

Of their three children, two are also in the shoe business and run companies of their own. Even if they finished business degrees and one of them even tried working for a bank, they eventually came back to the family business. The youngest, a graduate of interior design, will probably join the industry too, Carolina says.

Keeping Up With the Times

Carolina is not concerned with the influx of imported footwear since she knows her customers. Her customers may try and buy those cheap shoes, sandals and step-in slippers, but they come back to Pelina after.

Her products may be a bit expensive than their imported peers, but they are durable and comfortable, she says. She also offers a sort of lifetime warranty for her products. When a customer comes in to have a shoe fixed, she would do it for free, regardless of how long the customer has been wearing the particular pair of Pelina shoes.

To keep up with the rising competition not only from imports but also from home, she says she and her two daughters constantly keep up with the trends here and abroad. When she travels out of the country, she shops around for inspiration.

With the popularity of online selling, Pelina has also embarked on that one. She also supplies to online sellers.

Five years ago, she decided to open up a shop right outside their house, where some of the shoes are also made. The retail outlet is such a success that some famous personalities have gone there personally just to shop.

Need further proof that Pelina’s outlet is now popular?

“We are now on Waze,” Carolina says, smiling.

(Photos by Raven Barre)

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