by Gretzel Lantican
Name: Kristal Leen (Tal) de Guzman
A wise man once said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”. Take that advice from shoepreneur Tal de Guzman. She’s the genius behind Risqué Designs, a local brand of handcrafted and custom-made shoes inspired by Philippine cultural designs and the manufacturing house of at most 30 local brands.
For a woman who used to ride on big bikes and play taekwondo, Tal did not foresee the future ahead of her. She’s currently advocating for local artisans by promoting Marikina shoemakers and local products at Risqué Designs. But like many beginners in the business, Tal had a rough start.
She began with insufficient resources and connections, yet she continued selling intricately designed shoes and setting up clients at the back of her car. For 6 years, the one-woman team fueled herself with passion. Now, her hardwork and dedication paid off. She’s currently producing 1,200 to 1,500 pairs of shoes per month, and from mainly a retail business, Risqué Designs developed into a manufacturing house for 25 to 30 local brands.
As they say, “No great success was ever made without failure”. At first, Tal collaborated with lots of people. She believes that one should never be afraid to meet new people, ask them questions, and accept new ideas.
Later on, some of these people became her mentors while others turned out to be life teachers. Her early encounters in the industry taught her two things: to become smarter with partnerships and to not give trust easily. From these lessons, she stands confidently saying, she has become a more professional business woman than she ever was in the process.
Managing Time Accordingly
A collection of intricately and traditionally designed shoes from Risqué Designs
From numerous encounters she had, Tal always wakes up in the morning with a positive mind. Now that Risqué Designs is turning into a local brand known for its cultural craftsmanship, she’s motivated to create a positive impact not just for society but also for skilled artisans.
These shoemakers stand as breadwinners of their families so she makes it a point to give back to them by excelling in the industry.
Despite her busy schedule, Tal utilizes her time efficiently. As the store owner and brand designer of Risqué Designs, she shares her knowledge by teaching and conducting workshops as well. She mentors for aspiring shoepreneurs (with limited capital) to start their own business, for she genuinely believes that Filipino designs are world-class too.
Among the many challenges she’s faced, Tal thinks that losing her drive to keep going is one of the hardest . “But if you love what you are doing, then you’re gonna be there the next morning”, she explained.
An Inspiration to be Heard
Motivated, dedicated, and inspired are the words that best describe Tal. This multifaceted woman teaches us that mishaps will come along the way, but these things should never hinder us from success. Perhaps they must serve as lessons for us to grow.
But when you reach the point of winning, “you should never feel that you’re already on the top, because there’s no room for you to improve anymore. Never stop learning. That’s one of the keys to success”, Tal ended.