Our next Inspiring Woman is Sabrina Uy, the creator, creative director and owner of the country’s leading children’s fashion retail store, Gingersnaps.
Although I met Sabrina only recently, I have patronized and loved Gingersnaps from the very beginning – from the time I was pregnant with my first, and that was more than eleven years ago. Since then, I have known Gingersnaps to be the only local maternity and children’s apparel store with quality, fashion-forward and chic designs.
At present, Gingersnaps continues to grow bigger and better. In fact, this 100% Filipino brand has expanded internationally by opening up more stores in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
And behind this successful Filipino global brand is an inspiring woman and mother, Sabrina Uy. Read about her story below…
Tell us a little bit more about Sabrina.
I am the Creative Director of Gingersnaps. I started the company 20 years ago. Back then, there was a dearth of choices in the children’s apparel market. I wanted to design clothes that were fashion forward and chic. I have 2 kids – my daughter Gabby is 12, my son Tyler is 8.
What is Gingersnaps all about? What made you start the brand?
Gingersnaps is all about smart clothes for great kids. My first venture was actually ladies wear but after 2 years, I felt that I wasn’t into it anymore. I was losing the passion for it. While waiting for my flight in the HK airport, I chanced upon a magazine for kids apparel. That was it. I was hooked. I knew what I had to do. I sold the business (against everyone’s advice) and set up Gingersnaps.
How did you come up with the name?
When I was brainstorming for a name, I wrote down all the things that reminded me of my own childhood. I was a fan of Enid Blyton, an English author of children’s books (The Famous Five). Since she was very English, the characters in her book always had gingersnaps for afternoon tea. Hence, I decided to call my line Gingersnaps.
Can you share with us how you started?
Our first outlet was at the Robinson’s Galleria Department Store. It was just a couple of racks – about 3 square meters. I later opened at the Landmark Department Store, then at Rustan’s. I didn’t really think of expanding the company so much because I was having too much fun with the design part. Then I met my husband, Jerry. We got married and he decided that he was going to expand the business. He resigned from their family business and opened 8 Gingersnaps stores within a year. He is the CEO of the company.
What is the creative process behind each item that we see from Gingersnaps?
The creative process takes a really long time. From paper to execution, it takes a few months. I give the design, direction and concept. I work closely with my design team. We do the fittings, the prototypes and the necessary revisions.
There are quite a number of children’s fashion boutiques in the market today, both local and international brands. What do you think differentiates Gingersnaps from the rest?
Originality, quality and service are what set us apart from our competitors. We need to be leaders, not followers. I always tell my team how important it is to constantly re-invent ourselves. We need to freshen things up every so often. It is also important to remember that we sell to kids – our fabrics have to be premium fabrics, they need to be safe, comfortable and durable- all without sacrificing aesthetics.
What is the usual challenge that an established brand like Gingersnaps face and how do you handle them?
Our constant challenge is how to out-do ourselves each time. One of the pitfalls of established brands is, after a while, things begin to plateau. Everything becomes a formula. There is no more innovation. That’s when brands begin their decline.
How big is Gingersnaps now?
Gingersnaps now has 32 stand-alone boutiques in the country with 16 outlets located inside Department Stores. Internationally, Gingersnaps
Now that Gingersnaps is 20 years in the business, what are your future plans for the brand?
Our customers can expect bigger, more exciting stores and better products.
Being one of our Inspiring Women, can you tell us what inspires you?
So many things inspire me – travel, my children and their friends, art and books. To stay inspired, I read a lot. I research about a lot of things too, not only fashion. Travelling is a great way to discover new things, like the culture and art of a particular place. There is excitement in seeing and experiencing something so different from what I am used to. All these things are inspiring.
Another thing that keeps me inspired is waking up every day with a sense of purpose. I guess I am lucky to be doing something I love.
Since a lot of women are becoming entrepreneurs nowadays, please share with us some tips on how to have your own business and run it effectively.
You have to love what you are doing. You can’t do something you are not passionate about, otherwise, you will become a slave to the business. It is also important to never stop learning and never stop improving.
How do you balance your time between your business and your family life given a very busy schedule?
I can’t claim to be an expert at time management. I think all working mothers have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to this. We all do the best we can to be mothers and at the same time, earn a living. Though my husband and I are constantly busy, we make sure that we give our kids enough time and attention. Weekends are meant for the family. There are times when we’ve had to make sacrifices like cut back on our time with friends (our social life) or perhaps cut back on work because we felt the need to spend more time with the family. But our children also understand that there are times when Mommy and Daddy need to work.
Being partners in this business with your husband Jerry, how do you draw the line between your personal and business relationship with him?
Jerry and I are constantly learning how to draw the line. Being two separate individuals, we may differ in our opinions but at the end of the day, we both know that we are working towards the same goal. A lot of people wonder how we can work together, live together and still be okay with it… I think it’s because we enjoy each other’s company but at the same time, we respect the fact that we both need time with friends. We give each other space.
Last but not the least, I always say that there’s a “Spoiled Mummy” in each one of us….What do you think makes Sabrina a Spoiled Mummy? 🙂
I had to learn (and am still learning) how to spoil myself. In the past, I always felt guilty about not being enough of a good mom, wife, daughter, friend etc. I sometimes even felt guilty about taking a break from work. I guess it stems from being a perfectionist. I’ve learned to trust in God’s perfect plan and believe that there is a reason why sometimes things do not go our way. This has allowed me to let go and spoil myself a bit more.
What makes me a spoiled mummy these days is that I take time out now to do things I love, without the guilt trip. Time is a luxury for me, but I’ve learned to spoil myself by taking the time to do what I love the most, like watching my son’s soccer games, baking with my daughter, trying out restaurants with my husband and spending time with friends. Doing all these have made me a happier and better mummy!