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In this fast-changing world of corporate brands taking over the market, it’s difficult to notice the brands that remain local and independent. What makes independent brands worth the attention is the fact that they thrive to be as authentic as possible. They source their items and curate their products much more personally as compared to corporate brands. This makes their products feel more meaningful and more thought-out.

An independent brand thriving in this competitive industry is worth discussing. We got to talk to Franz Deadways to give us insight of what it is like being an independent brand owner.



Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

My name is Franz Villanueva, I’m the art director and founder of Deadways, a Cebu-based lifestyle clothing brand.


Tell us more about Deadways. What makes this a unique clothing brand here in Cebu?

We are not just a t-shirt brand. We offer a full range of products from caps, jackets, backpacks, socks. Like our caps, for example, it’s made with the same factory who makes caps for Vans, Quicksilver, Hurley etc.., aside from that we are also a lifestyle brand. What I mean by “lifestyle brand” is, most brands will sell the products and it ends there. For us we make sure that there’s a community behind the brand. Like me personally I’m into fixed gear bikes, some of our customers and friends are into tattoos, music, skateboarding etc.


So what are the common misconceptions about your line of work?

I think most people think that building a brand is easy. That’s why we see a new brand pop up from time to time then they disappear after a while. It takes networking, timing, and trial and error.


What would you say keeps your brand running and staying ahead of the competition?

Well first, I don’t have a day job no plan B no safety net.  So this has to work. Competition [is] that one thing that drives me. I always make sure that I produce better products. When we design a new product like our backpack for example, I always look at who’s the best in that category and compete with them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an international brand.


How would you describe your typical work day or your daily routine at work?

I wake up 6am most days, right now we’re in the process of building our own production facility, we want to make the shirts from scratch in-house so we can control the quality. So that’s my first stop. 8-11, I’m at the factory, after lunch I’m at our flagship store, we just opened September last year. I do all the design work there.


What would you say is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I love what I do, I enjoy every part of my job including the stress haha! But my favorite part is seeing the final product made the way I envisioned it in my head. And receiving complements from our customers. We have great customers some of them even got Deadways tattoos.


On the flipside, what’s the hardest part of your job?

Maybe coming up with the funds, because we are an independent brand there’s no investors, no outside money coming in. So if we want to produce a new product we have to be creative with our budget. Everything we do are based on our sales, and maybe finding suppliers that will work with small volume orders.


So what makes your job fulfilling? Would you trade it for something else?

The most fulfilling part is knowing that I did what I wanted to do. Like, this is what I love, I’m passionate about it and knowing that in some way I influenced a group of people on how they present themselves through my clothes. We all have dreams, and not everybody gets to live theirs.


Any message to those who want to pursue the same career? what does it take to be successful or happy in your field?

In any field there’s always failures, disappointments, and challenges. Even if you’re passionate about what you do, you are not immune. But don’t give up, keep doing it. It’s part of the process, most of us think as if we are going to live forever so we postpone things – “I’ll do it tomorrow”, “I’ll do it next week”, then years will pass then we grow old without achieving anything. Find something you love to do or if you already found it, do something about it. Now.


Zarah Majam

I take snapshots and I enjoy writing. Food, music, books, old movies and I’m good to go.

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