Bernie Liu, the founder of the first Penshoppe store, shared some of the learning he faced while managing a clothing business.
Bernie opened the first Penshoppe store in 1986 before diversifying into other clothing brands. Now, he is the chairman and CEO of Golden ABC Inc. (GABC), which houses PenShoppe, Regatta, ForMe, and other brands.
Like any Chinese-Filipino family, Bernie grew up helping in their family business. They used to own a lumber business on the ground floor of their house, while the second floor was their living space. According to Bernie, his parents Lim and Norma, molded his entrepreneurial mindset and helped develop core values that he still uses in business today. Bernie shared the three business lessons that he takes to heart as he continues a successful clothing empire.
1. Work on your talent
Bernie studied architecture, but he became ventured into the clothes business when he was interested in designing graphic tees. His parents supported his decision to open a fashion retail store because they believed in his skills and talent. This paved the way for him to achieve success in an area that he enjoys the most.
Bernie shared on Inquirer, “Our mother reminds us that the fingers on our hands are not of the same length. In the same way, we have different talents.”
2. Learning from mistakes
Bernie’s success is not without challenges. One of the biggest mistakes is the use of a suitable business model. When he expanded Penshoppe into an international brand, he faced many challenges because he wasn’t prepared. He also had issues and many others, but he is resilient and took them as learning experiences for him.
“One of my big mistakes was using the wrong business model in other countries. I encountered problems with product development for non-tropical places. Sometimes, there are challenges with business partners. I joked about calling these times International Business 101 and I chafe at the high tuition I have to pay,” he said.
It also helped a lot that he had a team of knowledgeable experts. He shared how important it was to be honest with your team so you’ll get the right solution to problems. “In my first four years, I was grappling with a lot of challenges. Being upfront with our team was a game-changer for us. Even the best talent can’t help you if they don’t have the full information,” he said.
3. Adapt to change
Bernie shared how important it was to adapt to change. He revealed that their organization is working towards keeping up with the latest business innovations to grow all areas of their business.
“Continuing to operate the old way would have put us out of business,” he said.
In the end, Bernie hoped that his corporate values and entrepreneurial mindset get to inspire other aspiring entrepreneurs. He shared in his My SM Story, “As a business owner, I believe it is important that we are also able to pass on these values and work ethics to the next generation so that they can also aspire to become their own brand of leader in the company.”
If you’re interested in clothes and fashion, you can also read the inspiring life story of fashion designer Michael Cinco.