Quality is Never Compromised at Roweliza’s Stylish Shoes and Bags
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“When I feel bad, I like to treat myself. Clothes never look any good. Food just makes me fatter. Shoes always fit,” so says Toni Collette’s character, Rose, in the movie “In her shoes” shown several moons ago.
That unforgettable line probably explains why some women like Rose buy multitudes of shoes. But not just any shoes will do. They have to be stylish and durable and for some women on tight budgets, easy on the wallet.
At Roweliza’s, the Marikina-based purveyor and maker of fashionable, stylish and easy on the wallet shoes, shoe lovers have an array of options. And they can be sure of the quality because despite the tight competition from cheap imports, the maker of Roweliza stood its ground to maintain its quality.
“Bukod sa style, stylish naman lagi, matibay talaga. Kilala sa matibay na gawa. Hindi namin kinompromise ang quality kahit naapektuhan kami ng murang imports. Hindi kami nakipagsabayan. Hindi namin sinakripisyo ang quality,” says Roweliza “Rowie” Cruz Landicho, proprietress of Fashion Purveyor Enterprises, maker of shoes and bags.
(Aside from the style, our shoes are always stylish, it’s the durability. Our shoes are known for their durability. We never compromise quality even if we are affected by cheap imports. We did not sacrifice quality just so we can match their low prices.)
Nearly Half a Century in the Business
The family of Roweliza, whose name is used in the brand of the shoes and bags, has been in the shoemaking business for nearly half a century. Her father started the company in 1969, the same year she was born. Her grandfather was also in the same business, proving that shoemaking runs in her blood.
“Our family has been engaged in shoe manufacturing starting from my grandfather, my father then me. I am the third generation shoemaker,” says Rowie in an interview inside her shop along Sta. Ana Extension inside Marikina East Subdivision in Brgy. San Roque.
“I have been exposed to shoe manufacturing at an early age. This has been my family’s means of earning a living that is why I love this business,” she says, adding that when she was a child, she used to help out in her parents’ factory, running errands like buying some materials from stores within the neighborhood.
At 18, she learned how to make sandals and step-in slippers, though she admitted that it was difficult making shoes. To this day, she continues to attend seminars and trainings on pattern making, shoe and bag making to further hone her skills.
Roweliza the company, which became Fashion Purveyor in 2011, has survived a number of difficulties including the flood of cheap imports and the typhoon Ondoy. Yet, the firm and the brand remained steadfast in its goal of making well-made shoes (and bags) not just for Marikenos but for those who love Filipino-made products.
When the shoemaker changed its corporate name seven years ago, it retained the brand name Roweliza because it has already gained a following. The older of the two siblings, Rowie is helped by her sister in managing the company.
Rowie says the company used to have retail outlets in Cinderella, Robinson’s, to name a few, under the name Alicia, her mother’s. But the entry of more cheap products from abroad made it tougher for these outlets to survive. Thus the outlets were closed and the company focused on making shoes.
From a peak of around 800 pairs of shoes a week, production is now down to 300, she says, though she remains optimistic that Marikina’s shoe industry will eventually recover and capture its golden glory days with the help of the government, both at the national and local levels.
Under the stewardship of Mayor Marcy Teodoro, shoemakers are getting a lot of support from the City Hall such as holding trade fairs and bazaars and building a shoe retail shop featuring Marikina-made shoes.
Since her father put up the firm nearly 50 years ago, Roweliza has always been a manufacturer of ladies and even girls’ shoes.
“Dati sabi ko sa father ko, bakit hindi tayo gumawa ng men’s shoes para isang design lang. Sabi niya mas maganda magconcentrate tayo sa ladies shoes dahil papalit palit ng sapatos ang mga babae. Gusto nila madaming shoes. Papalit palit ng designs. Mas madaming orders ang mga babae kesa lalake. Madaming designs – may pang casual, may pang formal, may pang office. Tapos teternohan pa sa bawat kulay ng damit at bag,” Rowie says when asked why the focus on ladies shoes.
(One time I asked my father why we don’t make men’s shoes so that we can come up with just one design. He said it’s better to make shoes for the ladies because they always change their shoes from time to time. They want to own a number of pairs. They also change designs more often than men. There are many designs for women from casual, to formal to office shoes. Then they have to match the shoes with their clothes and bags.”)
In recent years, Roweliza has become known for its couture shoe designs. That is, it customizes products based on the requirements of the customers who are about to get married or celebrate their 18th birthdays (debutantes). The company also makes shoes for those with problems in their feet such as polio victims.
Roweliza also makes shoes and bags for wholesalers and online sellers across the country. It also receives inquiries from companies based abroad who are interested in having their shoes made here.
It is also active in the projects of the Department of Trade and Industry and supplies shoes for the agency’s Go Lokal! flagship stores in Glorietta and Robinson’s that sell only Philippine-made products. It also joins bazaars organized by the DTI and by the local government of Marikina such as the ongoing back to school fair dubbed as “Balik Eskwela Gamit Sapatos Marikina” at the Shoe Ave.
Overall, she is optimistic that Marikina, known as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, will bounce back from tough times posed mainly by the surge of cheaper imports in the domestic market.
After all, people, especially the ladies, will always need a new pair of shoes. Whether to make themselves feel better like Rose in “In Her Shoes” or to use them to go to work or attend special occasions like weddings and debuts.
For more about Roweliza, Fashion Purveyor and Alicia, please check out their Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/aliciashoecenter/
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