Charmaine De Leon and Ruby Pansoy are no strangers to the world of business and retail. The duo, together with a few friends, decided to start up Pop District Bazaar, a venue that gave promising local businesses the opportunity to introduce their creations to a bigger market. The event saw much success—it’s held three times a year and now approaches its second anniversary—and both young women decided they were ready to take on another challenge.
The idea of an everyday trunk show of curated and local brands comes to fruition in Urban Lifestyle. The duo felt it was about time that Cebu started to experience an upscale and millenial shopping experience. They wanted to challenge the conventional theory of shops by bringing forward the new school idea of putting different brands together under one concept. Going local, of course, is another important aspect—Urban Lifestyle carries homegrown Cebuano brands that are just starting out, hoping to help launch them into the mainstream.
The duo approached their friend Gab Lasala to put together the project. As the principal architect of CuadArch Planning and Design, Gab is responsible for giving Urban Lifestyle the raw, modern industrial feel that it has—unfinished concrete walls, shelves made from wooden planks and metal piping, and vintage decor and succulent plants that reinforce the rustic look.
A long time friend of Charmaine, Gab had immediately said yes to the idea when it was brought up to him. “Seeing the success of Charm and Ruby’s other projects,” he shares, referring to Pop District Bazaar and Sugbo Mercado, of which the girls are part of the management team. “I knew that the idea of Urban Lifestyle would definitely click in the minds of the already developing fashion and lifestyle trends in Cebu.”
To manage the store, the duo again stretched their connections and asked Angela Rapes. “I said yes, of course,” recalls Angela, who has the experience of managing the Levi’s store in Ayala, Dockers, and the Magic Fit Alteration Shop. “I’ve always loved the idea of a concept store and a one-stop shop. I thought Urban Lifestyle could bring together local brands and make it more accessible to people all year round.”
Rounding up the group is Vanessa de Gracia, who handles marketing and social media. “I’m glad to be a part of Urban Lifestyle, as it is a great opportunity to experience being in business, even at a young age,” explains Vanessa, who is currently taking up Communications at the Cebu Normal University.
Together, the team was able to put together a steadily growing inventory—clothing brands like Felici, Solit Swimwear, Deseo, Miss Mannequin, Savannah’s Closet, as well as creations from designer Jojo Martinez; footwear from Sole Searching and Rolando; accessories from See Things Eyewear, Deseo Accessories, MS Accessories; and so many more.
Opening just this year, Urban Lifestyle has brought a fresh take of shopping to Cebu City, and has developed a following among the fashionable who are looking for more than the usual retail brands. Their vast offering of locally made products will surely be able to encourage people to advocate promising, developing businesses—and that’s certainly something to be happy about.