A ‘peculiar’ success story - philstarlife.com
Nov 24, 2020
When Isaac Saliendra started a retail brand seven years ago, people were often surprised to see how he looked.“I wasn’t corporate enough,” the 28-year-old said, recalling one online shopping platform that rejected his bid to sell his merchandise on their website. Dressed in a T-shirt, jeans, and a backpack, he finally met them in person after back-and-forth emails. “They eyed me from head to toe,” he said.
This wasn’t his first rejection. Isaac was bullied as a kid. “I was dyslexic. I didn’t know how to spell correctly,” he said. Because of the high cost of living in Metro Manila, their family moved to Rizal.
He enrolled in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), but would travel four hours a day to and from school. Looking back at his college days, he lamented that a lot of people, professors included, told him he wouldn’t make it in life.
“I started my business after graduating,” he said. “I was 20 years old with a P10,000 capital.” After one online platform rejected him, he turned to Lazada. “Luckily, they helped me,” he said.
He named his brand Peculiar. “I’m different in a lot of ways, so why not make a brand that represents people who defy the odds?” He started selling bags and watches, then switched to eyewear. “Hindi ko alam kung magbu-boom ‘yung business,” he said.
Two months into building his brand, Isaac got a job as a recruitment specialist. He would work in his office job in the morning and tend to Peculiar at night.
The bullying started again. His superiors credited his other co-workers for tasks he accomplished. “Ayaw nila sa akin kasi weird ako,” he said. Nine months later, he tendered his resignation to focus on Peculiar.
Isaac’s first business experience was with his father, Ariel, who would purchase watches and eyewear from Quiapo and resell them to make a living. “Binebenta namin sa bangketa sa may Luneta Park,” he said.
In 2016, Peculiar evolved from regular to computer eyewear because Isaac saw a need in the market. “My eyes hurt whenever I used the computer, so I researched on computer eyewear,” he said. “Sobrang mahal!” he recalled seeing price tags of P2,000 and up.
Isaac wanted to pioneer affordable computer eyewear in the Philippines. He introduced pieces with SafeShield and BlueShield Lenses starting at P88.
The products are assembled—from lens cutting to frame polishing—in Rizal. “Each eyewear goes through three stages of visual inspection, followed by UV400 and the Harmful Light Test with Spectrum Transmission Machine. To ensure optimal visual health, we refer our clients to our partner, The Eye MD Ophthalmology Clinic, for further eye care management,” Isaac said.
Fast forward to 2020, Peculiar won Lazada’s Best Fashion Accessory for 2020 and Most Trusted Eyewear Brand at the Southeast Asia International Awards.
They now sell a variety of designs, ranging from P499-P4,580 on Lazada, Shopee, and their official website, peculiareyewear.com.
“We hire people from different backgrounds—with or without a degree—as long as they believe in the company,” he said. “I want to help the people who helped me build Peculiar.”
Isaac built sleeping quarters for his employees next to their warehouse to keep them safe during the lockdown. He covered their lodging expenses, including food that came from his farm in Quezon.
When asked how he sees his company five years from now, Isaac’s dream is just as peculiar. He doesn’t want to live in a lap of luxury. He sees his parents retiring on the farm he bought from his earnings. And this is also his retirement plan. “Hindi naman kami maluho,” he said.
“I want Peculiar to be one of the most trusted eyewear companies. I want to expand internationally,” he added. Looking at the continuous growth of his brand despite the limitations of the quarantine, it looks like Isaac’s foresight is 20-20.
Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Peculiar Eyewear.