AMIDST the store’s selection of whimsies, her atelier esconsed inside Nest Home and Fabrique Shop, Patrice Tatiana Uytengsu
is carving her own niche in the fashion industry.
With her slim frame and gazelle-like stance, the lady is resplendent in a world of restrained tones and stark contrasts.
Indeed it’s in the blood. With her family’s decades in fabric connoisseurship, Patrice is the willing heir-apparent setting her natural flair for business and design.
After all, Patrice still to this day remains in awe of her uncle, Cebu’s fashion czar Philip Rodriguez, whose classy creations continue to spell elegance among the upper society.
The lady means business—she lives and breathes it, too.
Apart from being an incorrigible living and breathing workaholic (she juggles the day-to-day operations of a fashion house, runs the operations of a home and décor store, as well as managing Ramen Kamekichi) the multi-hyphenate graduate of Fashion Design and Merchandising of De La Salle College of Saint Benilde is set in facing what’s ahead with pure excitement.
In the middle of the interview and photoshoot, Patrice is the calm to the storm of the rigorous nuance of running a business.
A feat too much for others, Patrice wouldn’t have it any other way as she shares her passion for fashion, the importance of hard work, and her excitement for what’s ahead.
You are juggling three businesses —how do you manage to run all of them at the same time? How do you deal with the pressures?
I have to admit that challenges come with the territory. I guess it is part of it; like everywhere you go something usually comes up and it’s a matter of how you deal with it. Of course, I don’t show it. I haveto keep my composure. I would rather show the finished product, not what‘s behind the scene. It’s not so long ago when I started focusing on my design career and like any new venture, starting a business has its own labor pains, transitions, highs, and lows. The struggle is real, so to speak. In times of difficulty there are moments when I feel like giving up. But prayers help. I have a very strong faith in Him.
How would you describe your current collection?
As you can see they are very simple but with a twist. The design style is classic but at the same time we are adapting to trends. I create pieces that have a character of its own. So like when you wear it, it is a statement piece even if it’s plain minimalist classic. And also for the colors I don’t pick from the usual or from the previous collection. Right now I am using all tones of blues, like azure.
Shall we expect a fashion show from you soon?
I am very much into the business right now and I think I am not prepared for that pa.
Did you aspire to be a designer?
I remember in high school when we were choosing what course to take in college, I did not know what to take up except that what was fixed in my mind was that I wanted to be in business. I was sure I would venture into business but not particularly what I
am into right now. A class-mate gave me this brochure of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde offering a course in Fashion Design
and Merchandising and that somehow gave me an idea because I knew then already that I would be inclined to do this kind of world since my mom was managing the textile shop and I am quite familiar with the different kind of materials, from fabrics, trims, buttons and ribbons. So I knew eventually that I would be in this kind of direction also because before when my
uncle would have fashion shows, he would call me for assistance and he’d have me during dress-up backstage with the models.
How do you handle unrelated business concerns?
It is real hard work because it’s not always na you’re in control, and you need to have a good team, and sometimes you have members na they seem to not cooperate and it’s in these times when you need to get things done. One time there’s this one person who will not cooperate so the burden is on you because… number one, they are carrying your name. Matters like this you have to put your foot down and the least can you do is hope and pray that everything will fall into place. But despite these situations I always find it a pleasure to dress people like I really enjoy it and it is a passion.
And here you are in your element.
I am also managing the restaurant, and of course, it’s a different kind of dynamics giving you a different kind of fulfillment. Here in my shop okey lang gyud nga daghan kaayong ups and downs, but as soon as you see the finished product and you hear compliments from satisfied clients, it’s a different kind of fulfillment. So the reality is that I still have to go through these
challenges because it’s all about perseverance and most importantly passion or else it would be easy for you to just give up.
What’s your take on competition considering that there are many people aspiring to be designers?
Well, I think it’s all about finding the right clientele. I am happy to say that most of my clients are repeat customers. And maybe only a few lang nga once lang naka-try and they referred me na to their friends. And some would even refer me even even though they haven’t been my customer because they heard about me from their friends. So I think that’s a very good thing.
How do you want to see things down the line?
Of course for any designer you always want to be that someone who is known like for example here in the fashion industry I want to be that person like my uncle who is an icon. Of course I have a long way to go but then you want to be that kind of person nga you’d be able to have a name of your own. And now with my own shop, the thought of being on my own is already something. I am so blessed to have an uncle who can guide me.
What’s it like working with your famous uncle?
I get to regularly work with him. There’s so much pressure being the niece of THE Philip Rodriguez, with people saying that I will be taking over the reins. I don’t mean really taking over since I am a totally different person. I am just starting here at the bottom, following in the footsteps of a man who is already a legend. He has already established a name many, many years back. I won’t compare myself to him although he is someone Ireally look up to. I consider him as a mentor from whomI continue to learn—not all of these you learn in school. There are things that I am curious about and I can always go back to him for consultation. I mean, let’s face it, there would be issues even within the family, and the good thing about my uncle is that he is not selfish.
What would be the defining influence you got from our uncle?
He has taught me a lot, pero siguro it’s how to filter it through so that you can create something people will see as something distinctly you.
What’s the signature you?
In essence I make clothes where I make it sure na it’s something that I also would wear. Because of course not all people would accept or agree with your design. There are some that’s too haute couture, not as wearable, or not as practical to use. My creations are something that I would also wear—elegant, classy, and classic.
Besides your uncle, who are other designers that you look up to?
Johanna Ortiz especially with all the ruffles and my collection has like a touch of it. I also love Elie Saab, Monique Lhuillier, and Marchesa, just to name a few.
What about celebrities that you’d love to dress up?
Kate Middleton, I’m a big fan. As well as Natalie Portman, Blake Lively and Emma Watson. Among the local celebrities, that would be Heart Evangelista-Escudero.
How do you keep yourself inspired?
My family, my loved ones, as well as my mentor Philip Rodriguez. Because I see him every day, I see how he handles clients as well as his day-to-day dealings. I always try to travel. That’s how I get inspired, that’s also what keeps me going. And also my very own clients, like when I hear that they’re pleased, no matter how stressed I am or how hectic my schedule is or what goes behind the scene to come up with a certain piece. And it happens all the time when your client would commend or would say nga they’re so grateful or they never regret why they chose me to create their gown—these compliments make me feel so good.
You’ve been a busy bee doing rounds in the business. What have have you realized about yourself in the process?
Don’t work too hard—you have to find time for yourself. Because in life it’s not all about work and work lang. You have to have time for yourself, because if not, you’ll end up being just married to your job, and you don’t want that. It’s all about work and life balance and enjoying the perks of life. Then again, for you to be successful you must have perseverance and be passionate in what you’re doing.
What gift will you give yourself this Christmas?
I am already grateful with the blessings that I have. The gift of family is enough for me. Family is important because for some di ba like a family member is away or abroad and the thought of not being able to celebrate Christmas with them is hard. Being with
my family on Christmas is a gift for me.
What’s your definition of success?
Success is when people commend you for your work. Success is making it there, not just being on the sidelines,
living in that moment.