Sole Sister Spotlight: Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi

Thursday, August 09, 2012

How cool is it to combine your passion for travel and discovery into a business that you love?

Real life sisters Zerl Chan Ortiz-Luis and Mishi Chan have done exactly that! Their passion for travel has brought them to exotic locations around the globe and inspired them to bring their fabulous and quirky finds back to the Philippines. Here are some tidbits about this traveling duo:

What's your travel style?

Zerl: I’m a super OC researcher! I don’t like travelling with a fixed group and tour guide. Instead, I want to be my own guide! So I research on the place’s best sights, restaurants, bars, etc ahead of time. I even research on the area’s local map and plot out what’s the best route to take per day depending on the proximity of the sights. Then I make my own itinerary (complete with Excel spreadsheet and transportation directions!)

Mishi: I love to research on the places I'll be going. I think that's already half the fun of traveling. Before I felt pressured to see every single site when I go to a new place. But finding the right balance between being on-the-go and just savoring the fact that I'm in a new place is always my goal.

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi10

What are the best lessons you've learned from your travels?

Zerl: It can’t be said often enough – Be flexible! No matter how OC I am about plotting a travel schedule, I am pretty flexible when it comes to the actual trip and I am not able to follow it to the letter. I remember a recent trip to NYC wherein we planned our entire day around a visit to MOMA and turns out the museum was closed that day! So we went to the MOMA store next door instead, planned a MOMA trip for the next day and walked around the neighbourhood and discovered a cool pub.

Mishi: The world is too big to stay put. There's always something new to see and try. So no matter how frustrated I might feel about missing a sight or not getting to see something, there will always be something else I'll discover that's equally awesome.

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi9

What's your favorite travel outfit?

Zerl: Leggings, ballerina flats and a loose polo or long-sleeved top.
Mishi: Loafers, shorts, loose top.

How do you always manage to look great on photos even when traveling?

Zerl: Shades work wonders in upping the coolness factor (and hiding tired jetlagged eyes and eyebags!)! Scarves also make for a pretty (and very useful) accessory.

Mishi: I don't! :) Nice shades and just show that you're having fun!

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi1

What are the travel items you can't leave home without?

Zerl: Umbrella, travel adaptor (because you never know when the hotel doesn’t have one), travel scale from Quirks, to avoid unnecessary baggage allowance), a magazine or a book.

Mishi: Iphone, lomokino camera, lip balm, mighty wallet.

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi3

Who inspired you to travel?

Zerl: Our lola! She started travelling when she was in her 20’s and even now in her 80’s, she still has that same wanderlust. She even goes back to the countries she loved to visit before just to “review” the sights. We have our trips with the entire clan every Christmas and it’s a major production wherein everyone has to vote on the destination.

Mishi: My lola! She always has to go somewhere, whether it's a new country, a place she once visited, or a city she considers her second home. She's had 13 passports, has gone to 43 countries and has been to Hong Kong at least 100 times!

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi2

How were you able to create a business from your passion for travel?

Zerl: Shopping is always a major part of travelling and we always found ourselves in these little quirky shops selling unique items. A visit to Tokyo (the land of quirky shops!) inspired us to source from suppliers the items we saw and loved. We always felt that Manila lacked these little shops selling gift items that were different, a little peculiar, a little irreverent. Shops you could spend hours looking at every little item and marvelling on what it’s used for wondering at the design; and in the end, can’t help buy a little something that you just find so cute!

What is the best part about your entrepreneurial life?

Zerl: Being a mom, I like that I can bring my son to the mall when I do store visits. My hours are also flexible so I can spend more time with my son in the morning before I go to the office. It’s also a different feeling to work “for yourself”. There’s no one to “discipline” you so it should be something you’re passionate about!

Mishi: Because i'm an entrepreneur, I don't need to worry about leaves! I can do my work but still be able to travel when I want.

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi4

Bestselling items and why?

Zerl: Funnily enough, we have a lot of best-selling items that are travel related. Mighty Wallet is a consistent best-seller because of its unique designs (over 20+ styles), its adaptability (expandable) and strength (tear and water resistant). Scratch Map sells well too because it’s the perfect traveller’s journal and bragging poster. The Undercover series which are sleeves for your gadgets that look like old manila envelopes because of its unique design that will thwart any robbery! Our cheeky Dead series (desk supplies that look like “dead characters”) because it’s something humorous and different for traditionally boring products. Hang On Accessory Tree because again, it’s a quirky design for a usually boring item.

Mishi: We have some new items though which are already making the waves. The CapitaLIST Pig is a chalkboard coin bank so that you can LIST what you're saving up for. Might be Paris, El Nido or Machu Pichu? We also have the Brown Paper Bag which looks like a normal brown paper bag you'd use to carry your lunch but ours is tear and splash-proof and can even keep your food hot and your drink cold!

Your quirkiest travel souvenir?

Zerl: Coasters from a NYC weekend market that’s made from actual vintage Philippines (maybe 1970’s) travel brochures! The girl who was selling them uses old brochures collected from around the world and crafts them into glass coasters.

Mishi: A vintage Polaroid print ad from Korea that says "Life goes by so fast. Stop for a moment and take a look at it."

Quirky Sisters Zerl and Mishi6

Favorite cities to live and visit?

Zerl: To visit would be Paris. Nothing compares to its beauty and romance! Everytime I go, I am always blown away on how you can discover a beautiful architecture or park or area during a simple walk around the city. New York also as it’s at the top of all urban jungles! Kyoto is also magical to me – the charm of Japanese culture, its mystery and femininity and allure is alive here.

At the top of my favourite cities to live in would be Singapore. I love its First World efficiency and yet still distinctly Asian cuisine and temperature! Vancouver too because of its clean air, clean parks, clean streets!

Mishi: My top place to live would be either in venice beach in LA or NYC. Opposite vibes, I know, but both definitely has its charms. Top place to visit would be italy! Vespas, pizzas and cobblestone steps, what's not to love?

Zerl and Mishi are 2 of 4 sisters with a dream to bring unique & quirky products combining creative design and practical function to Philippine shores through their novelty shop Quirks. Their vision is to be the premier distributor of international and local gift and novelty items. They sourced the world over, taking pride in carrying the weirdest and the most functional products. View their shop on facebook.
Check out the previous Sole Sister Spotlight:

Glampacker Anna Zalazar
Surfista Elaine Abonal
Wanderer Brenna Holeman

Do you know of any female traveler who conquers the world one country at a time? Sole Sisters are fearless women travelers who find ways to travel within their means and have a lot of fun along the way! I would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send me an email at solesisters (dot) weare(at)gmail(dot)com. I look forward to your suggestions!

Seeking other itchy soled sisters,
Sole Sister Lois

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  1. I love that these sisters travel together. Some of my favourite travel moments are with my sister.

  2. Interesting. Two more solesisters, heck even the names vaguely match: Lois and Chichi, here Zerl and Mishi. Happy travels, girls.

  3. thanks for the write-up and for the inspiration for more travels and more discoveries :) funnily enough, i just posted a status this month that my feet are feeling itchy, need to travel again soon!
    - from an itchy sole sister :)

  4. Thanks Ayngelina! This reminds me to spend more travel time with my own sisters too :)

  5. Thanks Shankar! You inspire us to travel even more!

  6. Looking forward to hearing all about your new adventures Zerl! Thanks for spending an afternoon with me!

  7. I am glad I have my very own solesister! Mysisterbestfriendonlytravelbuddy! :-) 

  8. Thanks for sharing this paula and happy travels to you both!


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