It was raining so hard and the road was already flooded waist-deep. Via Galang, a college student back then, had to brave the stormy weather to fulfill a promise to deliver a pair of shoes bought by an online customer. She was carrying the bag containing the shoes on top of her head just to make sure the pair will reach the owner in good condition. The buyer was very happy and Via has gained thousands of followers on Multiply. Facebook and Instagram were not a thing yet.
The main reason she ventured into selling online was because of a dream to own a good quality camera phone and she doesn’t want to ask money from her parents. She saw people selling online and decided to sell her old candy magazines and Archie comic books. Via lives in the Shoe Capital of the Philippines so she decided, why not sell shoes.
She saved up money by reselling shoes from China and Korea. But Via has a great business sense and she knew that taxes and shipping costs affect her potential income. Also, the quality of these imported shoes are not as good as the pairs made in Marikina.
She was the first online seller of Marikina-made shoes through her Multiply account. When she finished college, she had a corporate job and the online business was put to a halt. But on May 2016, an interesting twist of fate has revived her shoe business.
I was choosing a lot of names but Versaheel because it actually came from the word versatile. I want the shoes to be wearable like it’s not difficult to mix and match with your outfit. Then to make people recognize that it’s about shoes, I added the word heel.
Describe your style/ brand. What makes Versaheel different?
Since I design the shoes, I have to like it first. I’m thinking, I am the market. With that in mind, do girls like me who love shoes gonna buy the this brand? Because when I shop for shoes, I don’t just buy the “generic” styles. Something that you can buy in any other store and worn by almost everyone you bump into. So I want one that is unique. Something trendy but classy as well. In designing, I want the kind of shoes that I would like to wear.
Who or what influenced your design?
I have my own personal style. But I get inspiration from magazines, movies. I want a pair of shoes that can be a conversation starter. Versaheel shoes will carry a woman. She can just wear a pair of jeans and a basic tee but the shoes will be the statement piece.
How did you come up with the names of your shoes?
You know how millennials love to play with words. For my first two pairs, Andro-genius and Sleek and Slay, the first has an androgynous design because it basically looks like a loafer which men usually wear so I made a female version. The second pair, well it is sleek and I love Harry Potter and Malfoy was called Sleek and Sly.
I have three pairs inspired by the Charlie’s Angels Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore.
Camaroon Diaz by Versaheel
Lacy Liu by Versaheel
Blue Barrymore by Versaheel
I didn’t really plan it to be like Charlie’s Angels because at first I was supposed to have four designs. I asked one factory to make them but for the last pair they weren’t able to find good material for it. So I was thinking, who are the three iconic women that most people are familiar.
The 6th design is Snaky Reed Somerhalder d’Orsays because of the snake skin texture of the material. I was thinking of a celebrity with a name that would rhyme with snaky so I came up with Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder.
What are you most excited about Versaheel?
It’s exciting because I’m going full time unlike before I had a day job. I’m working on some projects right now. I recently have a client who would like me to make shoes for them. Some celebrities are going to wear my shoes.
How many designs do you have in your collection and what is your favorite pair?
Currently I have 6 designs. So far my favorite is Snaky Reid Somerhalder because it’s high heels. Well, not really very high. Just 3 inches. I “road-tested”it to see if I could last a day and still feel comfy. It’s fashionable.
We girls feel that if we wear high heels, the shoes makes us feel and look sexy. What I’ve noticed with your designs, even the flats look sexy. And even if I wear a formal dress minus the heels, I will still achieve a complete look — sexy and elegant. What can you claim as Versaheel’s signature look?
The pointed toe heels and shoes definitely!
Your designs look expensive. I’m curious with your starting capital.
Would you believe that I only started with P4,000 for the initial inventory and then I spent P1,000 for the logo. You can start a business with P5,000.
Did you have any formal education or training in shoe designing?
I only attended two workshops but both are for shoe making. When it comes to shoe designing, none. I just love designing shoes.
What do you want to accomplish for Versaheel this 2017?
I want to have an increase in online presence. I started with Jaclyn Jose agreeing to wear Versaheel. I’m dressing up Daiana Menezes. I would also like to tap bloggers since I also blog. I also want bloggers to wear Versaheel. I want Camille Co and the Enciso sisters. Because you know I’ve been following them since 2011 and I’ve met them in a Multiply shopping party.
Let’s now talk about the girl who made Versaheel happen. Who is Via Galang?
A girl who loves shoes. When I was still working, there’s a shoe rack in our office and around 70% of shoes in that rack are mine. I live in Marikina but had the opportunity to live in Mindanao for 6 years. I can speak Cebuano. I took up Nursing in college at UERMMMC because it was the popular course back then. My dream course is Communications Technology Management.
Any life-changing experiences that has put you to this path?
My resignation. I’ve been in the corporate for five years and really made a good career out of that. But I have made the decision to pursue my dream of making a name for Versaheel.
So when you left work, it looks like they have shoes to fill. Literally.
Oh yes. The “Via’s Closet” looks almost empty with my shoes gone.
Does Versaheel reflect your personality? How?
I always want Versaheel to have a distinct character. I think my shoes will never look basic or ordinary. I can say that I’m an extrovert. I always make an effort to have a conversation with someone especially when I attend parties. So my Versaheel shoes are conversation starters too.
Dream celebrity you want to wear Versaheel.
Can I go Hollywood? I really like Blake Lively. I like her character at Gossip Girl. She gets lots of boys there but still I see her prim and proper.
Don’t be the last person to own a Versaheel pair. Follow the official facebook page https://www.facebook.com/versaheel/ and @versaheel on Instagram.