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#LifeLokal: These siblings aim to empower Filipinos through their sportswear brand, Atletika

By Camille Santiago Published Apr 22, 2022 8:58 pm

They say you should never get into business with friends, but is it also the same for siblings? For Johanna and Justin Sy, operating Atletika as co-founders come with extra advantages.

"I think that’s what made it work is we had different ideas and we would constantly question each other," Johanna told PhilSTAR L!fe.

The siblings were inspired by their dad, who was into sporting goods, to start a clothing brand. They created Atletika in 2019 because they saw a gap in the athletic wear clothes in the Philippines, as most of the available ones are imported from China.

"That is something that we really wanted to try out and that was very important to us in the beginning," she said.

When asked about their business relationship, Johanna shyly laughed at the question and gave out an honest reply.

Justin and Johanna Sy

"Like any business partner relationship there’s always ups and downs, but I think having someone to have that back and forth to give ideas, to juggle your ideas with, has been really helpful," Johanna said.

"I wouldn't have to be able to do it myself and I hope he says the same," she added.

Johanna tells us more about their homegrown brand and how aim to empower Filipinos through comfortable sportswear.

Why did you and your brother start Atletika?

We found the gap in the Philippine market for products that were made locally because a lot of the goods, especially sporting goods, we either get it from China or its not usually home grown. So that is something that we really wanted to try out and that was very important to us in the beginning.

Could you tell us the story behind your brand’s name?

The reason why we choose Atletika is because we were thinking of something that didn’t just represent one facet of like a sport—something that would represent Athletics also. We wanted something that was FIlipino deep rooted in our language so we chose Atletika.

We really want people to be able to get going in all of our products—just going back to all your activities.

What other influences does your brand hold? How does your Filipino heritage or culture influence your brand values or identity?

The number one thing that was important to us was building a Filipino business that supports Filipinos. Like what I said before, all our products are made in the Philippines and we really wanted to tap into showcasing Filipino talent and the ability of our workmanship to compete with the global market and with our global standards so that’s the first value.

The second one is to create versatile products for all women. All our products have a wide range of sizes from extra small to XXLarge, and for every activity of everybody’s lives. It caters to all activities throughout the day— like even if you're going to the grocery.

Another thing that we want is to connect people to the outdoors. We really want people to be able to get going in all of our products—just going back to all your activities. ‘Cause we know the pandemic has kept us indoors and has limited what we can do, but just to get people going in any way, you can, in your living room or we have some people who dance with their daughters or have these classes so we just want to encourage that.

And another thing is, an important value for us is giving back to our community. We work with local foundations in Negros. So we give back to the ‘Shoebox Project,’ one of the foundations that we work with. We have also helped build homes in Dumaguete because of the recent typhoon, and we’ve also joined donation drives as well. Anything that can get us involved in our community that we want to be part of because we couldn't have done it without the people who also helped us.

There are so many competitive brands in the world of fashion, how do you make your brand stand out from the rest?

We really listen, not to say that other brands don’t listen, but we always try to reach out to all our customers and ask for feedback. Whatever our customers look for or need, we try to have conversation with our customers. So we just take whatever we get from them and then we try to create something that’s different and that caters to all sizes.

We also want to make sure that all our items are very comfortable. The cuts and the sizing should cater to all body types that is something that’s also very important to us so we really try to get as much feedback—it is just a learning experience.

What is the role of social media to your brand?

Social media has immensely helped our brand. We wouldn't have been able to have the reach like not just locally but also internationally if it wasn't for social media.

We really try our best to get as much exposure as we can and get to word out that we have products that are locally made and that support, not just for the people that make these items, but also with the community.

Social media has been a great tool, still learning about it, constantly learning, but all outlets of social media has been a really great tool for us.

How do you want your customers to feel when they’re wearing your clothes?

Empowered. That's what we would want them to feel right away. When they wear our items, we want them to feel empowered, confident, we want them to feel engaged. We want them to feel strong.

Basically, we want our items to be able to get them to get going so in any activity that they may have. We just want our stuff to make them feel good at the end of the day, that the goal.