44-year old Filipina-Canadian Ella De Guzman, owner of high street to high-end reseller Siopaella in Dublin’s city centre, recycled over 140,000 fashion items, donated hundreds of kilos of clothing to charities including Oxfam and Saint Vincent de Paul, and pledged over €29,000 in cash to non-profit animal welfare organisations over the last 11 years.
Siopaella specialises in buying and selling of both designer luxury bags, vintage, high end and high street items. The inspiring sustainable fashion supporter who has regular high-profile customers and a strong eco-advocacy following has helped lessen brick and mortar stores by keeping luxury items out of landfill.
“The most expensive item we sold was a €13,500 Birkin and Irish celebrities who have shopped in our stores include Amy Hubernan, Rosie Connolly, Erica Cody, Roz Purcell, Courtney Smith, Laura Whitmore, Samantha Mumba, Johnny Logan and international celebrities include Florence and the Machine,” de Guzman beams.
Born in Vancouver, Canada to parents from Malabon, Metro Manila, de Guzman studied Fashion Design and Marketing then graduated with a degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where she met Stephen Ryan from Limerick whose background is in Economics and Finance.
“When I first moved here from Canada back in 2010, I noticed there were no consignment stores that specialised in the resale of everything from high street to high-end, hence Siopaella was born. We were the original consignment store that specialised in the buying selling and trading of designer bags and clothing and at one point had five locations. Due to COVID, we downsized to two locations but we survived COVID as so many of our customers were shopping online so the need for brick and mortar stores was lessened.”
When asked about what the shop’s name stands for, De Guzman says “Siopaella” in Gaelic or Irish means “Ella’s shop.”
She adds, “The actual Irish meaning is “Another Type of Shop” or “other” so I felt it fit in perfectly with the retail landscape in Ireland as we were essentially a store that sold other peoples’ items. The majority of our stock comes from the general public.”
De Guzman’s goal is to educate as many people as possible in showing them the benefits of shopping resale and at the same time, help customers unlock the currency in their wardrobes.
“Once the pandemic is behind us, we aim to have our brick and mortar stores to also act as community hubs where we can hold events, host pop ups and collaborations and help spread the word about each other’s businesses.”
Being entrepreneurial runs in the family. Ella’s mother Lolita helps out three months a year when she comes over from Canada where her father and brother run their own businesses. Enrico owns Guzman Electronics while Eric runs a boxing gym called Teofista Boxing.
Is Ella Ryan still connected to her Philippine roots?
“I speak Tagalog fluently and my favourite part about my culture is the importance of family. It is normal for us to live with our parents when they are older for example.”
On aspiring Filipino entrepreneurs in Ireland, “My advice would be if you genuinely believe in and love what you are passionate about, anything is possible. I built the one of the most successful and largest consignment businesses here in Ireland over the last 11 years when I literally only knew Steve when I moved over here. So even if you are an immigrant to Ireland, if you are prepared to work hard, anything is possible!”