“I’m Ricca Go, 30 years old, the founder and designer of local e-commerce shoe brand, Purple Sole,” the entrepreneur introduced herself. She started Purple Sole in 2013, selling shoes on social media. But her journey into fashion wasn’t a typical one.
From one field to another
“After graduating from college last 2011 with a degree in Nursing, I applied as a Brand Associate under a well-known shoe company while waiting for my PRC License to be released. During my short stint with the brand, I was able to immerse myself in the fashion business industry,” she shared.
“I learned the different skills needed — from marketing, purchasing to designing and store operations — all in one year under the direct supervision and training of the CEO,” she said. “I decided to leave after a year and return to my profession by working as a company nurse. With all that I have learned, I still continued designing and creating shoes for my mom, my sister, and some of our close friends. Through countless research and trial and error, I was able to find a local shoemaker that has the eye and craftsmanship to produce my designs.”
Yet, doesn’t forget where she started. “I will always be grateful to the CEO for training me and bringing out the entrepreneurial spirit in me. Her guidance has paved my way in creating the need to produce better quality shoes that every Filipino woman can use all day, every day without sacrificing comfort over style.”
What really stands out about Purple Sole is not just her beautifully designed shoes, but the fact that she was way ahead of the #LoveLocal movement. She designs and manufactures Purple Sole shoes locally. “Different inspirations that come and go — from cosplay gladiator sandals that look good on everyone to classic, comfortable casual footwear,” she explained. “My designs always evolve and fit the personality of my clients. As I have also entered the bridal shoe niche wherein my bridal clients send their ‘pegs’ while I share my insights as to what fabric and material to mix and match with their one-of-a-kind Purple Sole pair.”
She goes on to tell us more about why she chose local artisans. “My vision is to promote the talent and skills of our local shoemaking industry through Purple Sole. Our collection and pieces showcase their skills as the quality is comparable to the mass-produced and import quality footwear,” she says. “Until now, we always aim to provide the best and high-quality footwear while remaining affordable to the young and middle-aged women. Because of the high quality of our shoes, customer acquisition comes naturally and we were able to achieve consistent repeat clients and boost lifetime customer value.”
But beautifully designed shoes require a lot of creativity and inspiration, so where does Ricca get hers? “I am inspired by many things around me,” she mused. “And with these inspirations, I remain current in fashion to the point of casually observing the different types of footwear that I see women use on their daily stroll. I am also quite hands-on in fabric sourcing and trend hunting during my travels abroad — specifically [in] Taiwan and South Korea — a melting pot of fashion in Asia that the local consumers admire. This pandemic inspired me to diversify our designs and is currently accepting custom-made slip-on sneakers for company use.”
But as every shoe lover knows, great form doesn’t always mean functional. How many times have we been tricked into thinking that we’d be able to use a pair of shoes on a daily basis because they looked good and matched our wardrobes perfectly! Personally, too many to count. For Ricca, she said, “I love wearing shoes myself so I base it on the different pairs of shoes I own both branded and non-branded and mix my personal experiences and try to re-create the ideal balance of them in my design.”
If a shoe could embody Ricca, what would that shoe look like? “Definitely comfort over style — a classic pair that I can take from running morning errands straight to dinner with friends. Something that’s neutral and has elegant straps with block heels made with [an] added in-sole cushion of course!” she said.
So which pair is this shoe lover’s favorite? “I personally got myself a couple of pairs of Purple Sole’s “Corey” mules (in different colors) and my day-to-night “Ira” lace-up heels that are definitely eye-catching on a typical girls’ night out.”
She’s inspired by famous shoe designers Manolo Blahnik, Stuart Weitzmann, and the brand Everlane. But who would Ricca love to have designed a shoe for? “Jackie O” is her immediate answer. “She’s well known for her fun and classy attitude, preppy and elegant style. [The] same goes with Purple Sole shoes, a pair can easily transform one’s outfit from casual to glamorous chic.”
Purple Sole has been consistent in keeping their operations online even before the pandemic. “[We have] no physical boutiques, but we’re fortunate enough to get invited in joining various trunk shows and weekend mall pop-ups that showcase local artisans in the fashion industry.”
They have been online long enough to see how much social media has changed in the eight years they’ve been in business, and they definitely used that to their advantage. “We leveraged social media marketing that time when it wasn’t a thing yet and was the first ones to sell shoes online when most of the brands are in retail shops thus, being able to target a bigger market and widen our reach.”
With business savvy on her side, Ricca leaves us with five tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Learn from someone or a company you look up to and learn where they excel and apply what best fits you.
- Research, research, research, but establish a due date. Don’t be stuck on this stage!
- Start somewhere, whether in inquiring or asking people for feedback and advice. Do something every day to move your idea forward.
- Know the purpose of your business. Commitment and passion goes hand in hand
- Do not be afraid to take risks — these are all part of the whole experience.
For more business advice and inspiring Modern Tao Ke stories, check out our articles here.