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For Plains & Prints, a hop and skip to the bigtime

Roxanne Ang-Farillas started her company with the gift money she received during her 18th birthday.

Eighteen years later, Plains & Prints continues to dress up women with a style that is uniquely Filipino and proudly made in the Philippines.

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It was at an 11-square-meter spot in Shoppesville, Greenhills where Plains & Prints opened to sell simple tops and blouses.

Roxanne was caught unaware at the time when her boyfriend, Ericsson Farillas, offered her the space.

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“He surprised me with the space, so I took the risk and started selling,” Roxanne narrates.

Another surprise came their way when they saw that the store was doing well.

“I remember receiving calls from our store and they would tell me that we were running out of stock. I would then drive from Quezon City to Cainta, where our factory was, just to get more stock,” she says.

But Roxanne is no stranger to selling things.

When she was still in college, Roxanne recalls, she used to hop from one classroom to another selling towels and blouses to her classmates at the De La Salle University where she was taking up finance.

“Even before, I really liked to sell things. Though it had nothing to do with my course, but I found joy in selling things,” she adds.

In no time, the 11-square-meter space began to expand.

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“In 1994, we opened a branch in Greenbelt and soon we opened another in Robinson’s Galleria,” she says.

She says growth came about from being at the right place at the right time.

“It was like we caught and attracted fashionistas before they became fashionistas,” she explains.

Roxanne’s capital when she set up Plains & Prints amounted to P80,000. It was a joint venture between her and Ericsson, whom she eventually married, she explains.

According to Roxanne, most people think that now she is her own boss, she has nothing to worry about. They are wrong, she says.

The reality is, she is hands-on at everything that goes on in each of her stores.

“I experienced the good and the bad. It was something that I cannot learn from school,” she says.

When Roxanne was asked what to name the store, she simply said, “Plains & Prints.”

“Some would think that I had a long list of names for the store but I didn’t. I just wanted a simple name for it,” she explains.

Manpower and capital were the two things that initially challenged Roxanne.

“We didn’t like to borrow money from our parents. Since it was our own store, we wanted to do it on our own,” she says.

Eventually, they overcame the obstacles. Today, Plains & Prints has over 45 company-owned outlets and 23 franchise stores.

It was in 2002 when they started to advertise.

Since they had already captured their desired market and were positioned in the right places, what they needed was to make their presence felt through advertising, she says.

It was around this time when Gretchen Barreto came into the picture.

“I was watching TV when I saw her and I said to Ericsson, I like her to be our model,” Roxanne says.

And to the couple’s delight, Gretchen saw the clothes they sent and she liked it.

Looking back, she considers this moment to be a turning point for Plains & Prints.

“Gretchen helped us to raise our brand awareness and brand recognition. It was during this time that we expanded to more locations,” Roxanne recalls.

In 2007, Plains & Prints started collaborating with top-notch Filipino designers to create a genuinely chic Filipino look.

“We wanted to achieve a certain look that is not high-end but mid-range and affordable to our customers,” she says.

Plains & Prints collaborated with Rajo Laurel, Randy Ortiz and now with Rhett Eala.

“We wanted to give our customers something different. We’d like to set trends that would excite them and keep them interested while we maintain quality as a top priority,” she adds.

Roxanne admits that competition, especially in the retail industry, is tough.

“Marketing a product is vital in this industry. But at the end of the day, customer service and quality products really make a difference,” she says.

With the entry of international brands, the Philippine retailing industry now has to rise up to the challenge of beating foreign competition.

“Plains & Prints is among the few brands that is truly made here in the Philippines. Everything is made here except for the accessories,” she adds.

This is why she is encouraging Filipino customers to patronize our own brands.

“Filipinos should support Filipino retailers,” Roxanne says.

The retail industry creates jobs for Filipinos, she explains.

The thought of outsourcing did cross her mind once. But then she thought, “if you give it to China, then China will benefit…I might as well give it to Filipinos so we could all benefit.”

Right now, Plains & Prints employs 300 employees in their branches and head office.

Recently, Plains & Prints has been named one of the 20 best retail companies for 2011 by Francorp—a worldwide leader in franchise development and consulting.

Roxanne, being very fashion-forward, says that 2012 will be an exciting year for Plains & Prints, announcing plans to unveil the brand’s summer collection that she describes as neon wave.

In line with the Olympics in July, they will come up with a London-themed collection.

She explains that, with the help of Rhett Eala, everyone who is anyone in London will serve as an inspiration for Plains & Prints.

Soon, Roxanne will want to spread her wings and set up Plains & Prints abroad.

She wants to reach out to Filipinos overseas and give them a feel of wearing something that is truly Filipino made, she says.

“Everything I am is because of Plains & Prints,” she says.

True, there were some hurdles along the way. But Roxanne thinks that, behind every mistake, there is also a number of lessons to be learned.

“I don’t like to dwell on it but I really learned a lot,” she says.

Asked what’s the one thing she wished she had done for Plains & Prints, she answered: “I wish I took more pictures back then. I would have enjoyed looking at how far we have come.”

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