Risqué Designs by Tal

Words from the Designer

For Filipinos, it is traditional to have a province to go home to during the holidays. Sad to say, I didn’t have a province because both my parents were from the city. I always envied those classmates I had in my youth who would always have their relatives and provincial houses to go home to whenever we were on break. It made me feel left out and made it harder for me to feel my connection to my motherland.

As I grew older, I became more enthralled with the handicrafts from far-away provinces. I saw so much talent in these artisans, but always wondered why their products are mostly only distributed in souvenir shops. I grew up in a time when Filipino products are not appreciated by fellow Filipinos, while anything made by other countries are immediately deemed superior than ours. Anything Philippine-made was not yet then “Proudly Filipino,” unlike the burgeoning interest now in local products.

I questioned that prevailing consciousness. So when the time came that I knew I wanted to start my own business, I didn’t really focus yet on what product I would make. I just knew I wanted to use Filipino materials. It was then that I explored, discovered and fell in love with the woven fabrics of different provinces. I was also amazed by the craftsmanship of the wood carvers from Paete, Laguna. I knew then that I would fuse these materials into one product.

Then on an unfortunate yet lesson-filled venture to try to import shoes from abroad, I remembered that the Philippines has its own “shoe making capital” — the city of Marikina, known for its well-made shoes.

So in 2012, I made my first shoe collection. I have produced perhaps thousands of shoes by now, highlighting different Filipino themes and raw materials. I also saw a niche in doing made-to-order shoes.

When I started out, I really started small — selling at the back of my car, meeting clients in coffee shops, being the designer/driver/secretary/marketing person/sales person and everything else required of the business. From being merely an “I,” the business slowly became a “We” as I begun to have a team — from volunteers to interns, to part-timers and then to full-time employees.

Now, I am very grateful to say that no longer do we subcontract the making of our shoes from other manufacturers, but through the help of people who trusted us, we now have our own shoe production facility. What we hope for these days, is to increase the demand for our shoes in the global market, so that we can help create more jobs and support the livelihood of the artisans in our network.

— Tal de Guzman, Owner and Designer, Risqué Designs

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