Starting a business is a goal shared by many Filipinos. But with often scant resources, realizing the dream to own and operate a business is more often driven by a burning idea- coupled with patience and determination.
Born to a family with seven siblings and only one family hardware business, at the age of 23, Mr. Steven L. Ching stepped out of his comfort zone, placed his fate in himself and his wife, Mrs. Carolina D. Ching’s, and decided to put up a completely different business on their own.
In the year 1986, the couple entered the world of business through a buy and sell process of fancy stationery items imported from Taiwan. The following year, Mr. Ching attended an entrepreneurial seminar which promoted trade globalization and focused on brand building. Luck was with him, Mr. Ching recounted, when he was assigned to the group mentored by the founder of Acer Computer Mr. Stan Shih who inspired him to come up with a brand he can proudly call his very own. Together with Mrs. Ching, Mr. Ching created a cute, cuddly and adorable rabbit whom they called Robby Rabbit. With this endearing character at the core of their start-up venture, the couple started manufacturing small Robby Rabbit purses, bags and beautiful artworks, and started selling them in the wholesale market in Divisoria and National Bookstore. Robby Rabbit’s public appeal quickly gained ground. In time, the demand for Robby Rabbit products increased gradually, too, that owning more sewing equipment and manufacturing facilities and hiring more manpower became inevitable. Wanting to have a more hands-on approach in his business, Mr. Ching enrolled at a vocational school where he learned the basics of bag-making.
Because of the undeniably unending determination to share their brand to a greater number, ShoeMart awarded Mr. and Mrs. Ching a contract for their 1st concessionaire area in ShoeMart North Edsa branch in 1990. Now, the Robby Rabbit brand has expanded to nearly 30 outlets of SM Department Stores nationwide.
To experience how international brands work, and to help elevate Robby Rabbit in the global market, Mr. and Mrs. Ching entered the licensing business, signing contracts with international brands such as Snoopy, Garfield, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street among others- developing, manufacturing and distributing them here in the Philippines.
Years later, Mr. and Mrs. Ching established Characters Unlimited, a boutique shop showcasing Robby Rabbit and other known globally-competing brands. Since then, Robby Rabbit has become the 1st ever Pinoy-made cartoon brand that is able to hold its own against other international cartoon brands.
To make things even more exciting, Mr. and Mrs. Ching ventured into children’s apparel for Robby Rabbit in the year 2002, created Groovy Girls (2007), a bag line for pre-teen girls, Ruffles (2008), a bag line for teens and young adults, and Circuit (2009), a bag line for pre-teen boys.
Despite the hectic schedules of daily business operations and travel, Mr. Ching still finds time to be active in various social organizations. Being the founding chairman of the SME center of the Chinese Filipino Business Club, Inc, he has already initiated and conducted hundreds of free business seminars and free livelihood trainings. All of which are done to encourage aspiring and budding entrepreneurs to enter survive and succeed in the dynamic world of business.
No one knows for certain what the future holds. But through hard work and continuous learning, both in the industry and in life, there is no question that Mr. and Mrs. Ching’s perseverance and quest for excellence will carry Robby Rabbit and their other brands to greater and more inspiring heights.