CEO Series

This Filipino Could No Longer Afford Expensive Shoes, So He Made His Own—DANT Handcrafted Shoes

Some of us would prefer to work in a corporate company, while others would want to set up their own business.

For Dan Torres, his passion for shoes turned into an unexpected business venture.

It all started with his addiction to shoes—he often bought expensive shoes worth Php500,000 or more, including brands like Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, and Valentino.

I can no longer afford expensive shoes, that’s why I made my own.

Passion Turned Into Business

It all started in September 2016.

“I didn’t want to work for a corporate company after college, so I was preparing to set up my own business.”

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They were a family of shoemakers, so his dad told him to make his own shoes.

Heeding his dad’s advice, he spent most of his days touring around his dad’s shoe factory, observing how they make shoes.

From there, he started to learn and make his own from scratch.

“After making my own shoes, I would post them on social media. When my Facebook friends and relatives saw my post, they said that they liked the shoes and told me to make a business out of it.”

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Dan never thought that the business would boom, but many people actually bought shoes from him.

Spurred by the good response, they started producing 10 to 15 pairs of shoes per week.

Besides the increased supply and demand of shoes, the business also grew in terms of headcount.

He started with only three people, and eventually grew to seven.

The Struggles Faced

Although Dan hailed from an affluent family, he did not get any financial support from his parents.

Instead, he had to sell his Mercedes-Benz to buy machines and equipment to start his shoe business.

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“I didn’t ask for even one centavo from my parents. I sold my car and didn’t have a car for a year.”

For the first six months, Dan said that there were times he wanted to quit because there were no orders coming in.

“I couldn’t maintain manpower if there are no shoes to be made because I had to pay [my staff] daily,” he said.

Getting Up From The Fall

The turning point for the business was when he collaborated with famous designers like Randy Ortiz and Rajo Laurel.

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“I collaborated with designers for them to know my brand. At the same time, these designers don’t have shoes in-house so I partnered their suits with my shoes.”

Through these collaborations, he was able to showcase his designs in different fashion festivals like Manila Fashion Festival.

Some of his biggest clients include Governor Ilocos Sur, Chavit Singson, and Hollywood actor, Steven Seagal.

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Steven had wanted combat alligator shoes, which was Dan’s specialty.

It was quite difficult for him to source materials for the shoes, but Dan simply saw that as a challenge.

Walking Down In Style

DANT offers both ready-to-wear (RTW) and bespoke shoes, which are custom-made for his customers.

A handmade shoe is specifically made for you. The shoemaker measures your feet, because no two feet are the same. There are some who are flat-footed and some have bunions.

During the fitting, the customer gets to try on the prototype pair of shoes made in an inexpensive leather; and the shoemaker checks if anything needs to be changed or altered.

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The advantage of a bespoke shoe is that it fits your feet properly. Unlike RTW shoes, you can easily gauge if it will fit your feet and you also can decide on the materials that you want for the shoe.

The DANT Difference

“The company name is derived from my name, Dan Torres. I made it DANT as it conveys simplicity and minimalism.”

“What’s different about my brand is that I personally design and make the pattern of the shoes. I can make the shoes from scratch to finish, all by myself,” he said.

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I can’t see myself doing anything (besides shoe making). My existence is to really make shoes.

He added that he will continue doing what he loves, and sees himself doing this business long-term.

“I can see myself in 10 or 20 years, doing what I do right now. Even if I don’t profit as much, I will still continue shoe making.”

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