Pia Gladys Perey – One Incredible Filipina Taking on the World
Last updated August 21, 2019
Today’s guest is Pia Gladys Perey, a successful entrepreneur in the fashion industry. Born and raised in the Philippines and is the sole owner of her own fashion brand. Get to know her journey and how she was able to take advantage of accessing the world market from the Philippines.
- Pia Gladys Perey is a fashion designer from the Philippines who built her self-funded business from scratch without prior knowledge in fashion. Her largest market is in Australia and now in the US, her second largest market. She aims to make her business a brand.
- Learning comes in different guises; from a persistent application to apprenticeship, to volunteering and to merchandising.
- Big investments need “I am gonna do it” spirit, and not always playing safe which will get you somewhere and not the highest extent you can go.
- The Philippines is best known as the world’s outsourcing capital, as such, world’s biggest and smallest companies are coming to the Philippines, especially, the West to benefit from its cheap resources.
- The Philippines are hard workers, very resourceful and always find a way to make things work. Nevertheless, traffic conditions affect people’s productivity in the Philippines.
- Persistence is the key to achieving great success
- Exploring new ideas and locations can result in changing how you do business
- The Philippines has been known for giving excellence, especially, in the customer service or technical skills.
Derek: Hi and welcome to the Outsource Accelerator podcast, my name is Derek Gallimore and today with us, we have a very special guest Pia Gladys Perey.
Pia is a good friend of mine but I am just in awe of this girl and I am probably her biggest fan boy. Pia is the founder and head of her fashion label and that presently is called Pia Gladys Perey.
So, Pia has a fantastic story and in this episode we outline Pia’s origin. She had a very humble background, very humble beginning and there is something to be said for that in the Philippines. Humble is not the same kind of humble as humble in the West.
And against all odds, Pia has really succeeded, she has built a business from scratch, she still owns the whole business, she is self-funded and she is taking on the world. Now, Pia has launched the brand and its biggest market currently is Australia but now she is breaking into the US as well in a fantastic fashion.
So, it’s really quite an interesting story and a story that I champion because I think that it’s valuable to see people in the Philippines really taking on the world. A lot of our listeners, a lot of our audience really look at the Philippines as a back office solution, I think that it is interesting to see and look commercially at people in the Philippines that are actually taking on the world and accessing the world markets from here. So, I hope you enjoy the episode.
If you want any of the show notes, that is to be found at outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode7 for this episode. Enjoy.
Derek: Okay, so we have Pia Gladys Perey with us today, I am super excited about this, it has taken a while to get you in this room with me Pia but welcome.
Pia: Hello, thank you for having me.
Derek: Today, I just really want to introduce you and your story and it’s quite an unusual story, it’s quite an incredible and inspiring story. I will let you introduce yourself but you are a fashion designer and have your own label. And you successful have launched the now and you are in the Philippines and also it’s in Australia and also going pretty big in America now.
Pia: I hope so, after all that work that I did, yes.
Derek: And how did you start off because I have roots in Sydney as well and you made your big break.
Pia: That’s right. Well, I started here but what I did is I got off law school as fast as I can.
Derek: You did law school?
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Derek: Wow! I did not know that.
Pia: That’s why I always say I am like legally blonde but the other way around because from law school to fashion, I was just really feeling it. It was just really like a divine intervention on time. This is what I say and it’s funny like I woke up one day, I wanna be a designer. And I am the type of person when I want something like I am gonna move, mountains and everything just to get what I want.
Derek: Because your story is slightly more special because you are legally blind (as well).
Pia: Clinically blind. I was clinically blind.
Derek: And you also had no education in fashion.
Pia: No, but I grew up with my grandmother who loves fashion. Because I was clinically blind since I was four months old.
You know back in country towns, kids play in the street. My grandmother hated it when I go out and play because I end up going on crying because the kids would tease me, you know some kids are really mean
Derek: Because you couldn’t see what you are doing.
Pia: Yeah, and then the muscles in eyes were not aligned —
Yeah, I was just running into things, they thought at first, I was clumsy but it was just really bad and I’m still clumsy now.
So, I stayed with her most of the time but the great thing about it is that she would make dresses and I would watch her make dresses, she would make dresses for me and my sister. She’s just the ultimate mom. For somebody who has 8 kids and housewife in the country town, like below middle class family. She has a revolving shoe rack with a glass door, how can you beat that.
So, the highlight of my day would always be waiting for her to come out of her room to see what she is wearing. She will be in heels with her hair properly curled or whatever but she is just really gonna cook rice or something.
Derek: I see where you get your inspiration from Pia.
Pia: But she passed away when I was eleven so I kind of felt really bad about it. And then I had that divine intervention.
Besides that I am gonna call each designer in the Philippines possible, somebody hired me, fortunately. Maybe I called about thirty and somebody hired me finally, I am quite persistent or stubborn. (I think) My parents call it stubborn, I tried to sugarcoat it and say I am persistent.
So, what happened is that I became the assistant of one of the most and promising designers during that time, this was like 2000.
And I worked so hard, like I remember everyone’s partying during like the millennium break and I was delivering dresses, it was fun. But I was like, I am delivering dresses, I need to hurry because I had my son back then already. I need to hurry because I need to be with him.
It was fun then I just like, from that’s made to order, that’s couture and then after that I am like okay, I learnt couture then I am gonna go to another, like, department or look in fashion, so I went to retailers, I worked with Kasheika which is like a lady’s line, they have multiple stores so
And then I learned merchandising there because I am the type who just learn as I go or I will just be like —
Derek: You learn by doing
Pia: Yeah but the thing is I learn — Funny I learned this in Cosmo magazine, it could be dangerous sometimes. It says there “act confident until you are.”
So, when I go and dropped in two years , even if I don’t know what I’m signing up for, I will be like yeah, yeah.
And I think it also helps because I had the eye for it, it’s not just because they will — I know that I can do the job if I am patient enough to sit there and figure it out. So I just learned merchandising there which is a bit complex, a bit of technical part of fashion. Then another job, another job and then I decided to open my factory at twenty-four.
Derek: You had a – not a lucky break – you had a break in Sydney, in the fashion week, is that right?
Pia: I went there to volunteer for fashion, because I was done exploring here, so I went there and they were happy, they were like this girl is crazy, she came here to be a slave back stage. But then they know I was a designer here, so they kind of — To make the long story short I ended up presenting as one of the designers but there were three hundred of us and there are only twelve slots and I am like there is no way that I am gonna get in, so I was ready to go home. But then I got in.
So, there I did my first international show in Sydney fashion week. I am actually on my tenth year now, 2007 was my first show.
Derek: Yeah, we have a big party coming up with you.
Pia: Yes, we do. it will be massive.
Derek: Fantastic. And it has gone from strength to strength from then. How did you get your business guidance, do you have mentors, do you work with other people in the fashion industry?
Pia: That’s where I got lucky, well I think. The thing is in Australia I met this lady who is the head of — And I was just a volunteer then, she was the head of textile clothing footwear for the whole world, and I didn’t know she was, I was just chatting with her and then she told me that there are some people in the Philippines that she works with that next time I go home, maybe I can help them, so I am like okay.
And then I also got taught by one of the founders of Billabong, so he gave me the fashion calendars and that I would just, like, attend every possible free seminar that textile clothing footwear would give in Sydney.
And then I also interned for three years training designers, I always say, I interned before internship was cool, so I did my internships.
So, I had mentors and I always say that how can you figure things out without these people, so they are very important.
Derek: Significantly as well, a lot of business people try and break into America and fail, and never do but you have managed to break into the States and that’s your biggest market now; is it?
Pia: Well, it’s my second biggest market, Australia is still my biggest market but the thing with the US is, it is the toughest market to break and I’m not gonna lie about that, I have been going back and forth since 2013 and then started heavily advertising 2014. But I have been doing shows there since 2010.
So, it’s like I go and then I just test the waters but I can’t really say that it’s all — I believe in luck. I happened to meet the right people, like, I feel like people can feel it when you are ready, so they come to you.
So, my first ever store that I sold to in the US was the stylist for sex and the city, she has a store in New York and that’s when Sex and the City the movie was launching so it was such a big break for me.
Derek: And of course, Carrie Bradshaw is one of your heroines.
Pia: Yeah, she is, forever.
It’s funny, it’s also like a sort of pay it forward thing because that lady with textile clothing footwear. I helped her here, I taught like pattern making and dress making to women in province in the Philippines. And then she referred me to someone in LA and then Miami. Funny enough, the one she referred me to in LA is the stylist for Angelina Jolie. It’s like a whirl wind, it happened so fast. And then the next thing I know, my dress is already in her suit case, on the way to Europe and she wore it on the red carpet.
So, it was, you know, these two big names like, Patricia Field of sex and the city, and then Angelina Jolie. So, it kind of gave you like a stamp of approval, like how can you go wrong with these people. And then I did LA fashion week and Miami fashion week.
Which are big investments. I think people always – When you always play safe, you will get somewhere but not to the highest extent that you can go, you don’t really maximize your potential, if you are just too scared.
Derek: People don’t appreciate that, there are big business decisions you have to make and big risks and big costs that you do.
Pia: Yeah, big costs. People sometimes see it as recklessness but I always say you know it inside you if it’s gonna work or not and always listen to your guts. So, that’s when I am like, I am gonna do it, I know I don’t have much, you know, I am not a big company, my company is still owned by solely me. But, there are things that you have to do to put your brand or your company somewhere and that’s what I do.
Derek: So, our podcasts and a lot of our listeners know the Philippines for an outsourcing capital of the world and many of the world’s biggest and smallest companies are coming over here and using the cheap resources here to help them in the West, whatever. And you are effectively doing it in reverse and you are coming from the Philippines and taking on the world; is there anything that you see there being different, any competitive advantages, any disadvantages of coming from here?
Pia: Well, I always see that as an advantage because with me especially, I started my company really small, so, what I did is that I just expanded it as my orders grew, then I just added in more people, and I just kept on training them.
What’s good about that is – of course you build loyalty and I love working with people here, most especially the ones who are in there, well, we call industry. And the rank and file always happy to go beyond their duty. So that’s with me and well, people are just naturally happy here. So, that’s the great thing.
The Philippines are, other than, the Filipinos are gonna be hard workers, are very resourceful, so they always find ways to make things work. So, to me it was an advantage. Because the world now is more accepting and they like to see how things work on the other side and they are more open minded. So, that’s the best part about it, they are like oh! You are from the Philippines, great! Whereas, maybe thirty years back it won’t be the same.
The Philippines has been known in the last ten years or fifteen years for giving excellent – especially in the customer service like over the phone or in like technical skills as well as, like skills that I need for my business.
Derek: Because the States is quite close to the Philippines; isn’t it? And there is a lot of cultural overlap and exposure.
Pia: Yes, because we were colonized, so, I think that’s the reason why and we are very Americanized in a lot of ways. So, we are a bit of everything, so, I think it’s a great thing
Disadvantage, it always rains – not always rains, when you get the typhoon then a lot of things stop, you know, so they will end. Also, the traffic conditions because it affects peoples productivity. I believe the country loses so much money because of the traffic, so, it prevents people from going from one place to another quickly.
Derek: Thank you Pia, you are taking on the world and winning.
Pia: Thank you.
Derek: Okay, I hope you enjoyed that episode, I really am, as I mentioned, I am a big fan boy of Pia, she is doing fantastic and incredible to think that she has come from humble beginnings. She was diagnosed as being clinically blind and yet she is taking on the world and she is now breaking into the US, really quite incredible achievements.
Do support Pia, do follow her Facebook page, she has fantastic photos on there to check out.
If you want any of the show notes for this podcast, go to our website, it is outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode7.