When Inquirer Lifestyle sat down with Albert Yao, CEO of Richwell Philippines, Barbie’s official distributor and licensing company in the Philippines, the first thing we asked him (enviously) was whether his daughter had a lot of Barbie dolls when she was growing up.
“Not at all. Only if may first honor; if not, hanggang tingin lang siya sa showroom,” he said.
Yao said his decision to bring Barbie to the country in the early 1980s was the “educational” aspect that the doll inspired.
“If you recall, in the United States then, they never had maids. Housewives had to do a lot of the chores. Barbie was a way to teach girls about grooming and household tasks,” he said.
Today, Yao’s adult daughter Maye Yao Co Say is COO of the company, and no, she doesn’t need a school award anymore to bring home a Barbie doll—although her own seven-year-old daughter still has to strive to enjoy the same privilege.
Richwell Philippines Inc., together with International Global Marques Inc., recently opened its first flagship Barbie Store at the East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza Mall. “It’s an entirely unique offering,” Yao Co Say said.
The store is more than a boutique filled with pink dresses and boxes of Barbie dolls. It’s also a place for little girls to enjoy the full Barbie experience which includes becoming Barbie for a day.
Dripping in pink and glitter from floor to ceiling, the store features different specialized stations highlighting fashion, beauty and play.
The fitting rooms are a favorite of Yao Co Say’s daughter and it’s easy to see why. Each is decorated in varying shades of pink, purple and yellow, complete with patterned walls and plush stools.
At the beauty station, girls can play with makeup and nail polish, while the interactive pay-for-play area houses the latest Barbie dolls, accessories and videos to keep them entertained.
For moms who love to document their daughters’ milestones, a photo station is also available at the store, where a photographer can be booked for a special shoot. The store will supply costumes and a photo book upon request.
The expansive store is also open to accommodate birthday parties for girls of all ages dreaming to have a Barbie-themed party.
The Barbie flagship store is at the 4/F, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall. Other Barbie stores are at SM Mall of Asia, TriNoma, SM Megamall, Glorietta 1, Lucky China Town Mall, Alimall, Market! Market! and Harbor Point Mall.