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#LifeLokal: APARA looks to make every woman feel 'good, comfortable, and sure of oneself' with everyday, wearable pieces

By Brooke Villanueva Published May 27, 2022 5:23 pm

At some point, we’ve all dreamt of starting our own business with our own barkada. 

For those who know each other well, it’s a good idea—you’d find it easier to communicate and just have fun while working. Four friends Ariana Coronel, Eya Uy, Jessica Choy, and Nana Uy are living that dream. 

“Despite us all having slightly different styles, we found that it evolved in recent times together with the way we consume fashion. We’re in our late 20s, and we now view our purchases, including clothing, as an investment,” Eya told PhilSTAR L!fe

Each member of the group comes from a different background, but their desire was one and the same: to start a business venture. “We knew it would be more fun and that we had a higher chance of succeeding if we did it together,” she added.

What started from random jokes about building a clothing brand together during a reunion ended up a reality with APARA in 2021—one that looks to make women feel “good, comfortable, and sure of oneself” with everyday, wearable pieces. 

The owners of local clothing brand APARA
What’s the story behind your brand’s name?

Jessica: APARA was a play on words. We wanted a name that didn’t have a meaning to live up to, instead have the freedom to interpret it in different ways, much like our pieces. I spent one evening scribbling on an entire page of my notebook, starting with ideas and emotions that resonated with the idea of the brand, names of brands and artists, to sketching fonts. Ended that evening with the name APARA then shared it with the girls. Similar to how we design our pieces, it’s a go when it’s a yes from us four.

There are so many competitive brands within the world of fashion and beauty right now, how do you make your brand stand out from the rest?

Nana: One way is building trust with our community from the quality of our clothing, to the styles we design for our market, to the online customer experience. We’ve meticulously selected key silhouettes and tones that can be easily worn, paired, and repeated. We’re grateful to those who have invested and trusted in APARA and owe our customers that consistency.

We’re aware that having commercial appeal as a brand that offers everyday, wearable pieces isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as we add value to our consumers and their wardrobes with intention, quality and good design.

How does your Filipino heritage/culture influence your brand values and identity?

Nana: Our garments are made by a family-owned clothing manufacturer in the Philippines. We started working with them during a time wherein most manufacturing businesses were affected by the pandemic. In addition to this, we added details that cater to our heritage such as the use of Mother of Pearl buttons on some of our key pieces.

How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal? 

Ariana: Collaborating with creatives whose work we admire is something that’s really propelled our success in being able to visually express the brand’s unique take on essential fashion pieces. The keyword is “essential.” We’re aware that having commercial appeal as a brand that offers everyday, wearable pieces isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as we add value to our consumers and their wardrobes with intention, quality and good design. We advocate repetition of our pieces after all, so a small cost per wear is the biggest compliment. From a business perspective, we are pretty close to the numbers as well—it’s important we know which pieces resonate more broadly, and what the role of each piece is within our growing portfolio of products.

From your own experience, how is social media leading the way in spreading the message of promoting local? 

Nana: Social media’s been instrumental to us as a local brand in telling our story and showing our target audience the quality of our collections—despite being unable to meet our customers face to face. It allows us to reach people who resonate with our brand in a short amount of time. Our brand targets the curious and practical. She is intelligent and creative, which is reflected in her everyday life including the way she considers her purchases—the type of person who values authenticity and quality—typically seen from the lens of social media, both of our own and that of our slowly growing community.