Ely Knows Shoes, a Business Inspired by Father’s Rags-Riches Tale
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Ely Rose Edullan and her sister Elis Monica, both in their 20’s and owners of a shoemaking venture, are inspired by the success of their father, Elias who built a business from scratch armed only with his gumption, guts, hard work and steely determination to win in life.
They named their footwear “Ely Knows” as a tribute to their dad, known by his nickname Ely in Marikina City, where he owns a successful business that buys and sells old and brand new machines for making shoes and leases out trucks and heavy construction equipment such as backhoes and bulldozers.
“Kaya Ely Knows kasi short siya for Ely knows best, or Ely knows what’s best for you,” said Ely Rose, 24, in an interview inside their store and workshop in Brgy. Sto. Nino in Marikina.
“Kung gusto mong magnegosyo ng sapatos, meron kami dito mga sapatos na pwede mong ibenta at mga machines at ibang kagamitan para makag-start ng paggawa ng sapatos dahil Ely knows how to do it.”
Ely Rose and her older sister Monica, 27, put up the shoemaking business in 2010. The sisters decided to go into the shoe business because they want to help Marikina strengthen its reputation as the premier maker of durable, high-quality but affordable shoes in the country.
“Ang advocacy kasi namin ng ate ko ay sana lahat ng mga kababayan natin ang suot na sapatos ay gawang Marikina. Sana maging proud silang sabihin na gawa sa Marikina ang kanilang mga sapatos,” Ely Rose, who is mature for her age, said. “Ngayon kasi mas napa-patronize ang imported kesa gawang Marikina.”
The two sisters, who both finished business management in college, pooled their savings, which came from their allowance while studying, and borrowed the rest from their parents as capital to start the business eight years ago. They also loaned from their father the machines that were used in making shoes.
(During the interview, her sister, Monica, pictured below, begged off from joining us because she was nursing cough and colds and had no voice.)
They also hired their father’s employee, a pattern maker, to help them start with the venture. In turn, the pattern maker hired three more experienced shoemakers.
Ely Knows started making slippers first. Then ventured into school shoes for children, and then later on casual shoes for men and women. True to their advocacy, their prices are affordable: slippers start from P150 a pair; men’s shoes (mostly boat shoes) at P650; women’s shoes (mostly sandals and flats) at P450. School shoes for children are P250 for synthetic leather and P400 for pure leather.
Ely Rose, still in high school when she and her sister began the enterprise, credits her parents for guiding them how to run the business. Their parents were also on hand to loan them money in the past when they ran out of cash to pay for the salaries of their employees, Ely Rose added.
Those days of running to their parents to borrow funds are a thing of the past, she said. In eight years, Ely Knows has established itself in the competitive industry and has clients as far as Davao, Cebu, Iloilo (where her parents came from before they ventured to Manila to find work) and other parts of the country.
From just four workers producing around 100 pairs of shoes and slippers a week, Ely Knows now employ around 20 and churns out some 1,000 pairs a week and sometimes even more because some clients order around 600 pairs a week.
Ely Rose, who credits the craftsmanship and affordability of their products for the success of Ely Knows, is happy to share that some of their long-time customers have also prospered in their own businesses through the years.
“Nakakatuwa kasi ang ibang mga customers namin pagbalik dito may sarili na silang mga sasakyan. May sarili na silang tindahan. Nakakatuwa na nakatulong kami para umayos ang kanilang buhay,” said Ely Rose, who is currently enrolled in an MBA course and plans to study Medicine later on.
Last year, Ely Knows also started joining bazaars and shoe cavarans organized by the City Government of Marikina, thanks to an information from Alfred Javier, an employee of the Marikina Shoe Industry Development Office (MASIDO). Alfred bought a machine from the store last year and informed the sisters about the shoe bazaars.
The City Hall, under the leadership of Mayor Marcy Teodoro, promotes the shoe industry in Marikina by organizing shoe bazaars during school openings and Christmas seasons. It also sends a group of shoe manufacturers to sell their products in other parts of the country such as Baguio City, Davao through a shoe caravan.
Doctor to the Poor
The young entrepreneur aims to be a doctor because she said she wants to help the poor and those who cannot afford the expensive fees charged by some medical practitioners. She was inspired by the idea of becoming a doctor during her on-the-job training at a hospital in Quezon City, where she saw poor patients lining up for long hours just to avail of free medical checkups.
“Ang goal ko talaga sa buhay ay ang makatulong sa mahihirap,” said Ely Rose. “Supportive naman ang parents ko. Sabi nga ng papa ko papatayuan niya ako ng clinic dito rin. Ang gagawin ko, libre ang medical check up ng mga mahihirap at ng mga senior citizens.”
Helping others runs in the family. Her father, Ely, holds cycling races and donates money to the church for a feeding program during his birthday and during Christmas. Her mother, meanwhile, gives free shoes made by Ely Knows to schoolchildren regularly.
Will she leave the shoe business once she becomes a doctor? She said no.
“Hindi naman. Hindi ko maiiwanan ang pagsasapatos dahil dito kami binuhay at napag-aral ng aming parents,” said Ely Rose, showing the same spunk that her father possessed at a young age decades ago. "Kaya namang pagsabayin."
We wish her good luck. We know she will succeed because at a young age, Ely Rose certainly knows where she is headed in life.
Just like her father before her.
For more about Ely Knows, please visit its Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/ElyknowsPH/
(Photo credit: Alfred Javier of MASIDO)
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