How Renegade Folk’s Website Has Helped the Brand Stay on Top of Its Game

As online retailers go, Renegade Folk is a veteran. Its backstory reads like the history of local e-commerce itself: The footwear brand, now nearly a decade old, began as a hobby. Renegade Folk was a fixture in local bazaars, before its founders—Tina, Regina, and Bea Sambalido, and Bibai Gaisano-Puyat—decided to relocate their growing sideline online. "We didn't have enough capital for a brick-and-mortar store, and we wanted to test out the market," explains Tina. “We didn’t have a business plan yet; it just happened very organically. I think all good businesses start from there; you just have to have a passion for something.”

How Renegade Folk’s Website Helped the Brand Stay on Top

But few know how close Renegade Folk came to shutting down before it had a chance to truly take off. Its founders were all holding down day jobs early on, and as Regina recalls, "It came to a point where it was just too much work for a sideline, so we decided to close. Running a business really entails a lot of effort and time." A farewell sale was held on their online store, hosted on Multiply at the time, to clear out their inventory. But instead, it triggered an unexpected outpour of support from their customer base that was too big to ignore. The influx of positive feedback finally convinced the founders to pursue the venture full-time. "That's when we realized that this was something too good too pass up, because not a lot of people are able to create a really good brand," Tina says.

Now that Renegade Folk had their full attention, the first order of business was to launch their own website. The days of handling orders manually on Multiply were over. A developer was hired to build it, but as the years wore on, the website became harder—and more expensive—to manage. Every time it needed a major update, someone was brought onboard to code it on the backend. As the first touchpoint for their customers, their website is an integral part of their image. "I think all websites have a local flavor; you can tell if it's a local or an international website, and that was a huge factor for us: We're mostly online, so photos and visuals are very important," Regina says.

A turning point for the business was when they made the switch to Shopify in 2013. “As soon as we tried out the platform, it was a no-brainer," says Regina. "It's so user-friendly, anyone can do it. It saves you a lot of cost versus building your own website. Managing and coding your own website, I don’t think it’s for everyone."

Renegade Folk, says Tina, owes its staying power to the strength of its brand. "We've created something that is not easily replicated. Even if a lot of competitors are doing the same styles as we do, ours is still different because it has that certain personality," she says. "It's all about the brand: we stand for something. We don’t just sell shoes; our hashtag is #ownyourstep, which is really to encourage everyone to get into their own style, passion, and talents. You can still be you but still be comfortable. We wanted everyone to express themselves. Our shoes is like an outlet for people to do that."

The women behind Renegade Folk weren’t out build a money-making machine, but to offer unique, locally-made shoes with an affordable price tag—and that passion has kept the brand as competitive and relevant today as it was ten years ago. “When we started it was such a different time. Now when you go online, you’re bombarded by a lot of people selling. But what’s important if you want to in start e-commerce today is to offer a product that people will need and want in their lives,” says Regina.

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