Filipino shoemaker Jojo Bragais being part of the 71st Miss Universe pageant ‘not a quick yes’
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino pageant shoe emperor Jojo Bragais will release a video narrating the story behind the “Maureen” shoe which will be used for the 71st Miss Universe pageant. But little does the public know that it took him months before deciding to get on board the international competition.
This is not his first venture with the global pageant, yet he said he spent more time for introspection for his latest partnership compared to his first collaboration with the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) for the 69th edition in 2021.
“It took me three months to decide. In my trip to New York in September, Amy (Emmerich, MUO CEO) asked if I want to be a part of the show. I signed the contract only in December,” Bragais told the Inquirer in an exclusive interview over dinner at Victorino’s in Quezon City last Dec. 26.
But that was the only aspect of the sponsorship that took longer compared to the first. Everything else went smoothly this time around, Bragais said. In 2021, procuring materials overseas for a massive shoe order was herculean because of the tighter international restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also made it more difficult to ship the finished products.
This time around, the logistics is not the only thing that became easier for Bragais. “The first time I was trying to feel my way, and I was trying to read how they go about with their work. Now I am already familiar with the people and how they do things. It’s true that work becomes easier when you like the people around you,” he shared.
“I’m super happy to be back. The first time, I wasn’t able to enjoy because of all the pressure. But this time I’m more relaxed. I also feel that whatever mistakes I committed in the past, I was able to correct now,” he continued.
Bragais confessed that he felt “lost” after he became the official footwear provider of the 69th Miss Universe pageant in 2021. “I felt I got there too fast. I knew I would someday achieve it, but not that early. With my ultimate dream coming true at that stage in my career, I had nothing else to work for,” he shared.
He also revealed that taking an ambitious task at an early stage the brand, not even a decade in the industry, took its toll on the business. Several aspects collapsed, including logistics and inventory, said Bragais.
But he said he regained his foothold, and started to implement management changes to future-proof the Bragais shoe empire. He also said MUO asked him to become a part of the 70th Miss Universe pageant, but he declined because he needed time to recover, as it was held just a few months from the 69th edition.
What got him to agree with another partnership was the openness that the MUO team exhibited in front of him. “I really felt empowered. They were listening to what I was trying to say, and they acknowledge the ideas and concepts I was telling them,” Bragais shared.
For the 71st Miss Universe pageant, which is technically the global tilt’s 2022 edition, Bragais will have two of his shoe designs featured. The first is “Maureen,” named after 2021 Miss Globe Maureen Montagne and introduced in the 2022 Binibining Pilipinas pageant. He will have another shoe, also named after a beauty queen, but has not been used in any beauty contest yet.
The 2022 Miss Universe coronation program will be staged at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Louisiana in the United States on Jan. 14 (Jan. 15 in Manila). Italian-Filipino model and realtor Celeste Cortesi is representing the Philippines.
Bragais will release the first episode of the three-part docuseries “Maureen: The Making” on Wednesday night on his social media platforms. EDV
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