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#LifeLokal: Juanita Studio, the must-have retro footwear brand to watch out for

By Camille Santiago Published Aug 26, 2022 3:13 pm

Fashion always has a way of coming back. The Y2K trend millennials once loved (or hated), along with some styles from the ‘80s and ‘90s like the Nike Air Force 1s and chunky platforms, have found its way to the Gen Zs. So, it goes without saying that everything old is new again.

Amidst the many offerings from this overly saturated industry, you’ll find stylish new takes on retro shoe trends from Juanita Studio, a local leather footwear brand. Its products—all of which are handmade to order—are made with calfskin and pigskin, with rubber outsoles. From retro t-straps, Mary Jane, mules, and loafers, you’ll find something to fit your taste if you want to add an androgynous spin to your look.

Its founder Rachell Crisostomo is a vintage lover, who in fact, also has a retro-inspired clothing brand. Rachell started doing business six years ago after she got laid off from her corporate job. 

"When I was in college, nagbebenta ako sa neighborhood namin ng mga cold cut meats and slippers para may baon ako sa school,” she told PhilSTAR L!fe. “Hindi kasi ako nasupport ng family ko sa pag aaral, pero sabi ko gusto ko makapag-tapos kasi akala ko dati pag tapos ka ng pag aaral, madali nalang kumita [at] magtrabaho, pero hindi pala.”

She borrowed money from her husband, who, at that time only earned P1,500 a week, to start a business. Since then, Rachell was able to open three brands: Modern Maria, a now-defunct sandal brand; Juliana and Co., a clothing brand; and Juanita Studio.

“Ever since, sapatos at damit talaga [ang] hilig ko. Problem [is] wala akong budget kaya instead gumastos ako, naisip ko din na i-business nalang,” she shared. “[Pero] madami nagsasabi sa akin dati na baduy [ako] manamit,” the vintage lover said.

Despite her naysayers, Rachell managed to pursue her dream and rebuild her career.

Now, her half-a-year old brand is becoming the go-to shoe brand for retro lovers in the Philippines. Juanita Studio’s collection of quality footwear ranges from dainty Mary Jane shoes to chunky fisherman’s sandals to Attorney Woo Young Woo-inspired heeled loafers.

Continue reading as Rachell reveals some insights about her journey as a designer, her inspiration, and her goals for the brand.

Paraiso Sandals

What is the story behind your brand's name?

A lot of people must have thought that I knew someone named Juliana, which is actually wrong. The truth is I just really like the name Juliana and thought it would be cool to make it the name of my brand. Plus, sabi ko ayoko ng pangalan na may connection sakin, para pag nag fail, di masakit, tska walang makakaalam.

Pilon Sandals

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

Growing up in a society where everyone tends to watch your every move, I really struggled a lot in showing the world who I really am. So when I started this, I promised myself that I will allow my client to express who they really are with confidence while wearing my brand.

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

Sticking with offering the clients a classic look is what I aim for ever since I started Juliana and Co and Juanita Studio. I sometimes try the trendy look but I always make sure to give them the classic vibe, in that way I will not lose my brand identity.

Also, a good rapport with them is very important. Every message that I reply to, I make it personal. I give them my honest opinions and answer their queries genuinely. 

Growing up in a society where everyone tends to watch your every move, I really struggled a lot in showing the world who I really am. So when I started this, I promised myself that I will allow my client to express who they really are with confidence while wearing my brand.

From your own experience, how has social media helped your brand?

Social media is the biggest help in building this brand. Naeexpress ko yung sarili ko through my products. Siyempre malaking help siya kasi wide yung range ng clients na makakakita ng products mo na hindi mo kailangan mag rent ng space. With the help din ng mga celebrities and social media influencers mas naaabot ko ung mga target market ko.

Firmo Loafers

How do you want your customers to feel when they're wearing your products? 

Seeing clients wearing my brand makes me very happy. I want them to feel confident and beautiful just being themselves everytime they’re wearing it. 

Benitez Heels