The Grit Spirit by Alexa Villano

In the dictionary, grit means courage. It also means strength of character. This characteristic fits Moks Gonzales and John Israel Pascual, who named their business called GriTee, a t-shirt line.


In an email interview, Moks, who works as a banker. shared how he and John finally decided to push through with the idea. 


“I asked John, ‘Ano, game’ and he simply said ‘Game!’ and that’s how it basically started,” he said in jest.


“The longer version is that GRITee is a business that was inspired by success stories during the pandemic. We understand that a lot of people were going through some hard times during the past year, but there were also a lot of people who saw opportunities in this challenging environment and thrived. A lot of them were our friends and we were inspired so much by them. They were the same people who encouraged us to do it. The pandemic gave us a lot of free time so we thought it was doable,” Moks said.


Moks said that they chose a t-shirt line because, during the pandemic, they saw that several shirts they bought online were made of poor-quality material.


“If you want good quality shirts, you have to get branded ones. We felt like there was space for premium quality shirts that are comfortable, durable, and breathable at an affordable cost. Good fabric is key and when we found a supplier that met our standards, we decided to give it a go.”  


For Moks and John, their friendship was also a big help in pushing through with the business since they know each other quite well.


“Sanay na kami sa quirks ng isa’t isa. I am more fire, while John is ice. Siya yung mas cool and chill. Mas intense ako. We complement each other that way,” Moks said. 


“We each also have our own expertise and we decided early on who takes the lead on each aspect of the business.” Although both have regular day jobs, Moks said it was all about time management, as they make sure to always be in constant communication.



Pride Awareness


The first batch of shirts released early this year had simple statements and designs such as the Grit Face, “Keep Pushing,” and Crowned Winner which was received well by their friends and family. Through word of mouth, more orders poured in.


In celebration of Pride Month, they launched their second batch of t-shirts, with statements like “Love is Love” “Stronger,” and the Pride Face shirt.


John said it was natural for them to come up with a Pride line not just for them but for people close to them.


“Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, it makes sense for us to have a Pride Collection, but we wanted it to be more subtle than what we normally see. The idea came from Moks’ brother who suggested to come up with a Pride Collection that allies like him may also be comfortable wearing. Their design aesthetic may not be as loud or flamboyant, but they are allies nonetheless. In that sense, I think our Pride Collection is more inclusive.”


“We are also proud of the fact that we work with LGBTQ+ graphic artists, models, make-up artists, and entrepreneurs. We believe this is one important way we can help and support the community.”


Despite the fact that they launched the line only this year, the two are excited and planning their next collection.


“We’re working on an activewear collection and designs that play on the themes of courage and hope. Hopefully, we can put them out soon. Our tagline is #YourDailyWearToWin which speaks to our core of everyday comfortable wear that sparks inspiration and motivation,” Moks said.


“We envision GRITee to get bigger. A lot of the local brands that have made it big started out as a small kiosk in a mall. Maybe GRITee could be that local brand that started out as a small online business that will eventually make it big too.” 

Filipinos are known to be good entrepreneurs. Moks shared four qualities he believes that an aspiring entrepreneur should have in these challenging times.


“Definitely you need grit. It is never easy to start a business especially during trying times like a pandemic. You just have to persevere and keep pushing,” he said.


“Listen and learn from the challenges experienced by other entrepreneurs. Be flexible. Sometimes you must adjust or change a certain idea even if you are so in love with it. Share what you know. At the end of the day, what we realized is sa negosyo, tulungan lang naman talaga. Successful people are always generous with their time, skills, and talents. It’s the abundance mindset.”


And what would be their advice for would-be entrepreneurs?


“Save and allot resources for you to start your business and just do it. Keep them moving so your ideas will turn into something tangible,” Moks said.