Passion and purpose are ingrained in Renegade Folk’s DNA, which the brand’s all-women founders carry through their unrelenting mission to champion the creativity and craftsmanship of local artisans.
In 2007, sisters Bea Sambalido, Reg Sambalido Chiam, and Tina Sambalido founded Renegade Folk. The brand, which was then a regular in the bazaar circuit, carried mainly chic and comfortable Marikina-made leather footwear that were a hit not only with the stylish millennial set but also with those whose taste in footwear goes beyond what’s available in the market at the time.
Right from the start, the Sambalido sisters are clear with their vision for their brand—to make great quality products accessible to the community.
“Back in 2007, most of the shoes available locally were imported—and they all looked the same. We saw an opportunity to introduce more unique designs that were still very much usable every day,” co-founder and creative director Bea Sambalido told PhilSTAR L!fe.
The sisters were then up for many challenges when they started the brand, among them was to break the common misconception that locally made shoes are of lesser quality compared to imported brands. Through the years, Renegade Folk has continued its mission to “uplift local every day.”
Empowering local artisans
The Renegade Folk founders believe in the talent of Filipinos. Among their advocacies is showcasing the creativity and craftsmanship of local artisans, which is a non-negotiable for them.
Growing up, the Sambalido sisters were naturally drawn to more unique and special things, and were always encouraged to pursue their creativity. Being able to translate their creativity to actual products made by local artisans makes them proud. “It enables us to continuously support our makers and uphold the Filipino name,” Bea said.
The founders empower local artisans through design innovation, which Bea says is a way to push the makers to grow and adapt to what the market currently needs, at the same time making sure that the products are well-made.
“We always challenge them by pushing the bar as what Filipino-made products should be—durable and high quality,” she said.
Renegade Folk also introduces the artisans to the latest tools that complement their craft to set them up for success.
Also important for the Sambalido sisters is making sure that they pay the artisans fair wages. “Our products are priced to give value to our local artisans’ skills.”
We always challenge them (artisans) by pushing the bar as what Filipino-made products should be—durable and high quality.
Designed with style, comfort and function in mind
Renegade Folk has expanded beyond just footwear as it also added clothing and leather goods like bags and accessories to its line of products. This was an almost natural transition for the founders, according to Bea.
“We wanted to fully realize the RF lifestyle of wearing everyday pieces that can withstand trends and will last for years,” she said.
From being a bazaar circuit regular, the brand now has three branches—UP Town Center in Quezon City, Glorietta 3 in Makati City, and Ayala Center Cebu—and an online store, where its products are available for shipping worldwide.
Known for products that are practical and comfy chic with impeccable quality that “(make) you feel pretty while being comfortable in what you’re wearing,” it is not surprising that Renegade Folk is a hit to a wide demographic of customers—“from students, to moms and their moms.”
With a plethora of local fashion brands out there, how does Renegade Folk stand out?
“Authenticity in both ways: It’s knowing who the brand is, and offering what the market wants. Renegade Folk is here to make you feel good everyday. And we stand for that in all aspects—from our products to our customer service,” Bea said.
She added, “All our products are designed to make sure quality and feel is great. We also go above and beyond to make sure our customers are satisfied with their experience.”
Renegade Folk has also collaborated with local brands including Wear Anika, Strange Mercy, and Grow. These partnerships enabled the brand to spark a conversation and leave a mark in the arena of fashion.
We wanted to fully realize the RF lifestyle of wearing everyday pieces that can withstand trends and will last for years.
Renegade’s journey today and beyond
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, Renegade Folk had to step back and see things in a bigger perspective. Bea says pandemic steered the brand to where it needed to go.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were going at a fast rate trying to grow the brand and we were mostly driven by that. But it forced us to reconsider what 'growing' really meant for us,” she said.
“(The pandemic) enabled us to reconsider how we do everything and only pursue efforts that provide real and sustainable value. It honed our products and how we work together as a team for the better,” Bea added.
For the Sambalido sisters, running Renegade Folk, which is now in its 14th year of operations, taught them invaluable lessons not just in business but also in life.
“The first is to always be authentic to who we are as a brand. When things seem murky and confusing, going back to why you started in the first place will help you better navigate your direction,” Bea said. “Stick to your values and keep at it, even though people aren’t ready to accept them yet.”
“The second, never compromise—always offer the best customer experience and product. Give importance to all the details and only put out work you’re truly proud of.
"Third, keep on evolving and never be too comfortable where you’re at. Always be curious, grow and improve.
“The fourth, it’s all about teamwork and empowering the people you work with. Always believe the best in people and their capabilities—but continue to challenge and hone their skills. Lastly, take the time to appreciate how far you’ve come and learn from your experience,” she shared.
Never compromise—always offer the best customer experience and product. Give importance to all the details and only put out work you’re truly proud of.
So what’s in store for Renegade Folk and its avid patrons?
“We believe that RF is a lifestyle and we’re slowly taking the next steps to realize that. You can expect more clothing and more shoes! Hopefully we will be available in other Asian countries, too,” Bea concluded.