The pandemic brought a lot of changes to the way we live our lives. Businesses had to close down, people had to stay at home, and social interactions were reduced significantly. One business model managed to thrive amid all this chaos: online businesses.

In this article, we will talk about one entrepreneur who used the knowledge he learned from a DTI seminar on e-commerce to keep his business afloat during the pandemic; and his name is Adjie Dajac of Abby’s Shoes.

The Shoemaker’s Origins

Adjie arrived in Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines, with big dreams and high hopes. He had heard tales of the city’s thriving footwear industry and was eager to get a piece of the action.

However, his lack of experience in the shoe-making trade proved to be a hindrance. Adjie recalls how he applied to a few of the big manufacturers in the city, but they all turned him down because he didn’t have any experience in this industry.

But Adjie is not the type of person to give up easily. Despite the setbacks, he was determined to find a way to break into the industry. In a stroke of luck, Adjie found a short course on shoe pattern making offered by the government. He saw this as a window of opportunity and decided to take a gamble by enrolling in the course.

And it paid off fast. Just a week after finishing the course, he landed a job as a pattern maker in a major company in the footwear industry. This stint in the footwear company served him well, and he soon had enough experience to venture out on his own.

Although he was short on capital, he enlisted the help of his siblings, and they were able to raise Php 100,000.00, which they used as seed money for the business.

A business which he now calls Abby’s Shoes.

No Elves But DTI Support and Some Trusted Tambays

It wasn’t easy to shift from being an employee to starting your own business, but Adjie was determined to make it work. He started his entrepreneurship journey with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

He participated in the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program and benefitted from the Shared Service Facility (SSF). He also took part in trade fairs to help boost his products’ presence.

These DTI programs gave him a foundation and access to resources that helped him slowly gain footing in this business.

And when the time to hire employees came, Adjie made it a priority to give jobs to the tambays — something that not everyone agreed with. When most people think of tambays, they think of lazy good-for-nothings who are more likely to steal your wallet than hold down a job.

“I wanted to give them the opportunity to change their lives,” quipped Adjie.

Luckily, his gamble paid off — the tambays he hired turned out to be some of his most reliable employees.

As with any business, Adjie experienced multiple ups and downs. But none of them compares to the loss of his mother.

“The death of my mother devastated me. It caused me to lose my direction, and, as a result, my business suffered. It was only after my wife talked some sense into me that I realized that there are now other people who have a stake in my success—my family and my employees”, said Adjie.

So the owner of Abby’s Shoes picked himself up and started working again. They succeeded in some aspects and failed in other endeavors, but through this, Adjie realized one thing: they needed

to differentiate their products if they wanted a chance at surpassing their competitors.

A Sudden Change in Fortune During the Pandemic

Our savvy shoemaker decided to utilize used truck tires as material for their sandals. This move not only helped him differentiate his shoemaking line but also helped the environment, which is part of his business philosophy.

“It’s a win-win situation. We get to help the environment while still providing quality products to our customers,” he said.

Adjie had big plans for his business and the new line of sandals he was producing — the Roadtrip Sandals.

“With the help of social media, I was able to not only expand the reach of my product, but also increase my revenues, and most importantly, inspire other people to venture into business.”

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit his business hard. As they are not considered essential goods, they have to stop operations. This brought his business to a grinding halt affecting not only his livelihood but also those people depending on him.

But Adjie is a shrewd businessman who knows how to seize the opportunity.

When the pandemic struck, he quickly jumped into e-commerce. Using what he learned from the DTI programs he attended, Adjie was able to utilize social media in the best way possible.

Not only did he expand the reach of his product, but he also increased his revenues.

Walking The Road to Success

Now that Adjie is one of the most successful footwear manufacturers in the Philippines, he wants to give back to the community that has helped him achieve his dream.

He is currently serving as the head of the Social Media Committee for the Philippine Footwear Federation Inc. (PFFI), where he is helping other footwear manufacturers discover the power of social media.

Adjie Dajac’s story is one of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. It is also a reminder that there are always opportunities to be seized, even in the darkest of times. With his passion for giving back and his wealth of experience in the footwear industry, there’s no doubt that the rise of Abby’s Shoes will continue to be a success story for years to come. ♦