International Designer: Erzullie – Find Out About them Here!

Erzullie 

I am a short, round little Mexican that has learned to be CREATIVE with fashion that is designed for 5″6 and taller.  There has been a few designers and stores that are catering to my shortness but have been keen with my sewing skills for the most part.

So, I said “HEY why not find designers from the parts of the world that the average woman is MY height and size??!!  During my search I found beautiful smiling women that had similar bodies AND height as me.  I contacted a few and Erzullie responded immediately with such kindness and PASSION that I just had to share them with the rest of the world.  Keep in mind that they are working FEVERISHLY to start shipping out their designs worldwide but at this moment they are concentrated in the Philippines.  I promise to keep you posted as soon as they release their designs to the rest of us!

My view on Erzullie Clothing is: Trendy, Fun and Classy.  They mix up jersey with metallic with a classic twist.  You’re able to interchange the pieces for varying looks.  I have an eye on a few pieces I hope to add to my wardrobe that I know would be staple pieces.


The following is an EMPOWERING short video that I was able to dig up from their Facebook page.  I LOVED it and think you will too:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150341930123043&set=vb.133925039983061&type=3&theater
During our email exchanges for this interview I have asked detailed questions to understand how these beautiful women evolved in a country I have never visited.  We at times become enclosed in our immediate life that we loose site that there are many countries fighting to reach where we are currently at in the non-straight sized fashion world.  My interview touched on the struggles and victories of this line as well as the selection of models.  With each answer they shared their personality and passion – for that I am most thankful!
Please show your support by following their progress on their sites and may you gain strength from their designs and hard work.  I look forward to seeing their line in the USA soon!
Who is Erzullie? (The people that make up the team)
Erzullie is owned and designed by Berna Cuevas and Aries De Guzman. Berna is the head of production, while I (Aries) am head of marketing and public relations.
Sino si Erzullie? (Mga tao na parte ng team)
Ang Erzullie ay pagmamayari ng mga designers na si Berna Cuevas at Aries De Guzman. Si Berna ang nangunguna sa production habang ako (Aries) ang nangunguna sa Marketing at Public Relations.
Berna (Left) Aries(Right)

Where did you meet? Are you siblings?

We met 10 years ago (going 11) and we are best friends.
Saan kayo nagkakilala? Magkapatid ba kayo?
Nagkakilala kami 10 taon na ang nakakaraan (magiging 11 na taon na) at kami ay mag best friend. 

Where were you born and grow up?
We were both born in Metro Manila but Berna grew up in Taytay and me, Pasig City (in particular).
Saan kayo pinanganak at lumaki?
Pareho kaming pinanganak sa Metro Manila pero si Berna ay lumaki sa Taytay at ako naman sa Pasig City.
At what point did you become interested in design?

We (became) interested in fashion design when nothing (fit) us anymore (we became plus size). (We) had to find other sources of plus size fashion that would suit us. Unfortunately during our time, plus size fashion only catered to a specific age range (and) was not ready to serve our style needs. So we decided to start making our own clothes that we like in our size.

Kailan kayo naging interesado sa disenyo?
Naging interesado kami sa pagdidisenyo  ng damit ng wala ng magkasya sa amin. Naging plus size kami kaya kailangan naming maghanap ng ibang pagkukunan ng damit. Sa kasamaang palad, noong panahon na iyon, ang damit na pang plus size ditto sa amin ay para lamang sa ibang rango ng edad. Hindi ito handa para sa aming gustong uri ng damit na kasya sa amin.
While growing up how many plus size companies were available in your area?
I think there were a lot but only a few (were) full blown brands like Moda Plus, TBY and Circles were known. The rest were more of overruns and are just plain hard to find.
Noong lumaki kayo, ilan ang plus size companies na meron sa inyong lugar?
Sa tingin ko marami ngunit kaunti lang yung talagang malaki at kilala katulad ng Moda Plus, TBY at Circles. Ang natitira ay mga overruns at mahirap hanapin
Who were and are your favorite designers?
Berna’s favorite designer is Monif C. She was our first exposure of an international plus size designer that really placed plus size design into a whole new light.
I love Monif C. as well but for me my favorite plus size designer would be Gisela Ramirez. She designed these awesome swimsuits that for me really broke down a lot of barriers in fashion. Locally, I love John Herrera, I love both his style aesthetic as well as his life philosophy — humility and hard work.
Sino ang paborito ninyong designer?
Ang paboriting designer ni Berna ay si Monif C. Siya ang una naming pagkakakilanlan sa isang international na plus size designer na talagang nagbigay ng bagong pagtingin tungkol ditto.
Gusto ko din si Monif C. ngunit ang paborite ko talaga ay si Gisela Ramirez. Gumawa siya ng mga magagandang swimsuits na talagang nakasira ng maraming lumang ideya tungkol sa damit. Kung sa local na industriya naman naming, gusto ko si John Herrera para sa kaniyang style aesthetic, humility at pagiging masipag sa kaniyang larangan.
What are your regional fashion trends/styles currently trending?
To be honest, we really don’t follow trends as much, but we do see that one of the current trends here in our country is cropped top (although it is starting to die in popularity)
Ano ang iyong sikat na fashion trend ngayon sa iyong bansa?
Hindi talaga kami mahilig na sumunod sa fashion trend ngunit ang isa sa mga nakikita naming ngayon ay ang ‘cropped top’, ngunit nawawala na din siya.  
What was your first design individually then together?
Berna and I always design separately because our view of plus size fashion is different. Berna is more sophisticated, tight and sexy. Mine is more comfortable, loose and lounge. If ever there was a design that we did together, it’s more on someone made the initial design then one of us comes in and makes suggestions. This usually happens with couture when our Erzulliestas (our customers) asks us to design for them a specific gown/look for an occasion.
Berna’s first design ever was a plus size dress. It was tight at the bottom and loose on the top. My first one ,for plus size design, would be (the) brown and maxi dress for Resort 2011 of Erzullie.
Ano ang una ninyong ginawang disenyo na hindi magkasama at magkasama?
Hindi kami masyado nagdidisenyo ng sabay ni Berna sa iisang damit dahil magkaiba kami ng gusto tungkol sa direction ng plus size fashion. Si Berna ay mahilig sa mga sophisticated, medyo masikip at sexy tignan. Samantala ako naman mahilig sa komportable, maluwang at lounge.
Kung magdidisenyo naman kami ng iisang damit, kadalasan may isang gagawa ng unang disenyo tapos yung pangalawa ay magbibigay ng karagdagang ideya kung papaano magiging mas maganda ito. Kadalasan nangyayari ito kapag couture o kung may pinapagawang gown o damit para sa isang okasyon.
Isang plus size dress ang unang dinisenyo ni Berna. Ako naman ay isang brown maxi dress para sa Resort 2011 ng Erzullie.
What have been the most memorable accomplishment for Erzullie?
The most memorable accomplishment for Erzullie as of now was the Fierce + Flaunt event that we did with Shop Chubbly. Our friend, Chami Viray, owns that fabulous plus size line and we made a nice plus size fashion pop-(up) shop event for both Erzulliestas and Chubbly Girls.
The union of fashionable plus size women in one great event was amazing!  (The) representatives of TBY, one of the biggest plus size fashion retailers here in our country, and Pinay Curvies, a Philippine Plus Size Blog that focuses on plus size events, dropped by to show support. It was just pure fashion, love and support for the local plus size fashion industry.
As such, it was a great starting point in empowering the local plus size fashion scene here in our country, which was definitely needed. We hope to make this event bigger too!
Ano ang pinakanaaalala mong nagawa ng Erzullie?
Ang pinakanaaalala kong nagawa ng Erzullie ay ang “Fierce+Flaunt” na event kasama si Shop Chubbly, isa pang plus size fashion line dito sa Pilipinas na pagmamayari ng kaibigan naming na si Chami Viray. Gumawa kami ng ‘pop shop’ para sa mga Erzulliestas at Chubbly Girls.
Ang pagdagsa ng mga plus size women sa ganung uri ng okasyon ay nakakatuwa! May mga representative din ng TBY, isa sa mga malalaking plus size fashion line ditto sa aming bansa at Pinay Curvies, isang plus size blog na gumagawa din ng ibang plus size events, na dumating. Purong fashion, pagmamahal at suporta ang mararamdaman mo para sa local plus size fashion industry ng Pilipinas.
Para sa amin, isa itong magandang simula para lalong lumakas ang aming industriya. Nais namin na palakahin pa ito.
What matters most to you both in your design?
For Berna it would be how it falls on the body and how much sophistication comes out of the wearer. For me, what matters most is looking effortlessly chic and comfortable at the same time.
Ano ang importante para sa inyo tungkol sa pagdidisenyo?
Para kay Berna, importante kung ano ang hitsura nito pag nilagay na sa katawan at kung gaano siya ka-sophisticated kapag suot na. Para sa akin, mas gusto ko ang ‘effortlessly chic’ at pagiging comportable.
Do you prefer sketching your designs or constructing them? Why?
Berna likes to sketch minimal(ly) and go straight to construction. To be honest, I am not really good at construction. I can only cut fabric (hehe) but I love to sketch. So I sketch first, consult with her, then construction proceeds.
Mas gusto mo ba ang pag drawing ng damit or diretso sa paggawa?
Si Berna ay mas mahilig na diretso na sa paggawa ng damit. Ako naman, hindi ako masyadong magaling sa paggawa pa, kaya gumagawa muna ako ng drawing/sketch, magtatanong ako sa kaniya at saka lang gagawin.
What 3 words best describe your work?
Fierce. Plus Size. Fashion. (Plus size is two words… but please? Can it count?( LOL)
Anong 3 salita ang nag lalarawan sa iyong trabaho?
Fierce. Plus Size Fashion.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Berna loves to listen to songs and her inspiration comes from the vibe that it brings. I, on the other hand, love to make stories about the Erzulliesta’s life. The things that she will wear at specific point(s) of her life.
Saan ka kumukuha ng inspirasyon?
Si Berna ay mahilig makinig ng kanta at kumukuha siya ng inspirasyon sa kaniyang nararamdaman doon. Ako naman ay mahilig gumawa ng kuwento tungkol sa buhay ng isang Erzulliesta, mga bagay na kaniyang susuotin sa ganuong punto ng kaniyang buhay.
What are your favorite patterns [prints] to work with and why?
Berna loves to work with constructive fabrics with minimal prints. I guess because her aesthetic is all about simple, sexy sophistication. I love prints of all kinds as long as it is not tacky. This way, an Erzulliesta can wear it again and again until the season is over. The relevance of it is longer.
 Ano ang pinakapaborito mong pattern or prints na gamitin at bakit?
Si berna ay mahilig gumamit ng mga fabric na kaunti lang ang print ngunit medyo matigas. Ito ay dahil mahilig siya sa mga simple, kaakitakit na sophisticated na histura. Ako naman ay mahilig sa maraming uri ng prints basta huwag lang hindi kaayaaya. Para sa ganun, masusuot muli ito ng Erzulliesta kahit tapos na ang isang particular na panahon.
How do you choose your models?
To be honest, we actually search for Icons more (than models.)  Models can be found anywhere but ultimately we are looking for a woman that can represent our core customer base — The Erzulliestas. We base our decisions mainly on if they really “are” one. When we say Erzulliestas, those that actually know, buys and promotes the brand naturally. We are all about organic promotion. For us, it is more authentic and we feel that we are being honest with our customers (in this process.)
Paano kayo namimili ng inyong modelo?
Naghahanap kami ng Icons talaga. Maraming gustong maging modela ngunit ang hinahanap naming ay isang babae na magiging representasyon ng aming mga Erzulliesta. Lahat ng desisyon naming tungkol dito ay kung isa nga silang Erzulliesta o hindi.
Kapag sabi naming na Erzulliesta, isa siyang babae na may alam tungkol sa brand, bumibili ng mga produkto naming at magtaguyod ng aming brand noon pa man. Gusto talaga naming ang tunay na pagtataguyod ng aming fashion line. Para sa amin, mas makatotohanan kasi ito.
Do you have models you would like to work with?
Well, we know that Monica Fausto, blogger of Curves and Chaos and one of our favorite bloggers (our first exposure to international plus size blog) does not consider herself a model, but we do want to work with her because we do know that she supports our brand way before now.
 May mga modelo ba kayo na gusto ninyong makatrabaho?
Alam naming na hindi niya kinokonsider ang sarili niya bilang isang modelo, ngunit gusto naming na makatrabaho sa isang shoot si Monica Fausto, blogger ng Curves and Chaos and isa sa mga paborito naming na blogger (siya ang una naming nakilalang international plus size blog), dahil alam naming na sinusuportahan niya an gaming brand noon pa man.
What has been the most difficult experience(s) on this path… personally and as Erzullie?
Personally for us, it would be the whole business itself. We were clueless when we started and we even had to close down our first fashion line before Erzullie occurred. But we are blessed to have those failures, it turned into lessons and that is what made Erzullie become more successful than we thought it would be.
Ano ang pinakamahirap na naranasan ninyo bilang tao at bilang Erzullie?
Para samin, yung buong negosyo mismo. Hindi namin alam ang ginagawa naming noong una at nagsara pa kami ng isang fashion line bago nangyari ang Erzullie. Pero pinagpala naman kami na naranasan naming ang mga pagkakamali na iyon. Naging magandang karanasan iyon para maging mas maganda ang pagpapatakbo naming sa Erzullie.

What advice would you give future Fashion Designers?
 #1 Stay humble and focus on a niche. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but if you serve those people that support your business well, you are going to grow and last.
 #2 Celebrities wearing your items does not necessarily equate to sales but it does bring awareness and trust. It’s good when you are new but as soon as you have a firm hold of your customer base, it’s okay to just focus on dressing them than the celebrities that you want to represent you.
 #3 Sales is not directly proportional to social media followers. A fashion line can have 1M likes but it does not necessarily mean that they are making money. Because people may like your page but not buy your product. How many of us liked a high end brand but never even own one?
 Anong payo ang maibibigay mo sa mga gustong maging fashion designer?
#1 Maging mapagkumbaba at tumutok lamang sa isang customer niche. Hindi kailangan na malaki ito pero kung pagsisilbihan mo ang mga tao na may gusto sa iyo, lalaki at tatagal ka sa industriya na ito.
#2 Ang pagsusuot ng iyong mga damit ng mga artista ay hindi ibig sabihin tataas ang iyong benta ngunit magandang paraan ito para malaman ng tao ang iyon brand at pagkatiwalaan ito. Okay ito kapag bago ka pa lang. Ngunit kapag medyo malaki na ang brand mo, tumutok ka na sa mga customer mo kesa sa mga artista na gusto mong pasuotin ng damit mo.
#3 Ang benta ay hindi direktang nakasalalay sa iyong social media followers. Ang isang fashion line ay maaaring may 1M na likes ngunit hindi ibig sabihin noon na nakakagawa sila ng pera. Ito ay dahil maraming may gusto o “like” ng page mo pero hindi ibig sabihin na bibilhin nila ito. Halimbawa, lahat tayo ay may gusto o “like” ng mga high end na brand pero hindi naman tayo bumili.
Are there any projects in the near future you’d like me to highlight?
We are still in the planning stage for Plus Size Fashion Night here in the Philippines. We aim to give more exposures to plus size indie brands by staging a fashion show all in one night.  Hopefully this pushes through next year or by 2015 (at the latest.)
May mga proyekto ka ba sa hinaharap na gusto mong bigyan ko ng importansya?
Nagplaplano pa din kami tungkol sa Plus Size Fashion Night dito sa Pilipinas. Gusto naming magkaroon ng mas malaking exposure ang ibang plus size indie brand sa pamamagitan ng pag gawa ng isang fashion show na isang gabi lamang. Sana sa 2015 magawa na naming ito.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *