At first glance Rebel-Fi looks like your typical customizing or personalizing store, but owner Nate Roppul envisions something bigger for his newly opened shop in Gualo Rai.
“A customer is not just a customer to me [but] a partner, a fellow entrepreneur, another business owner, a home-based crafter who just loves to make gifts for his/her loved ones, or anyone looking to put their name on a product,” said the 30-year-old.
To Rebel-Fi is actually to change the way consumerism works, Roppul said. “We as a consumer should be able to purchase from a place that has loyalty programs, affiliate marketing programs, and educational programs. These programs are exactly what’s on my mind when selling to a customer.”
Rebel-Fi currently retails customizable items like hats, T-shirts, mugs, plates, wallets, clocks, ornaments, and custom sublimated all-over printed socks.
“All of my items I sell can be customized or personalized for whatever occasion or memorial. My product line is always expanding so this isn’t all that I sell.”
Aside from blanks, a term the industry calls for bare mugs, shirts, etc., Rebel-Fi also carries Silhouette Cameo 4 machines and accessories, vinyl, and heat transfers for would-be entrepreneurs like himself.
Silhouette Cameo is the ultimate do-it-yourself machine and uses a small blade to cut over 100 materials, including paper, cardstock, vinyl, and fabric up to 12 inches wide.
“Rebel-Fi isn’t actually a brand when you think of it. It’s a lifestyle. We need to build our own empire by helping each other grow and not look at other businesses as a competitor,” he said.
Roppul chose to open up shop at the first floor EZ Outlet in Gualo Rai because there’s a clothing store upstairs. “I wanted our stores to complement each other. It’s a win-win situation for the both of us. Great quality, good prices, and awesome customer service both upstairs and downstairs.”
It also helps that he lives in Gualo Rai. “…it keeps me closer to my family in case of emergency. Having a child keeps my decision-making in check. I always [have] to think of what’s best for us.”
That is why he named his company after his son, Rebel, plus he needed a name for his Wi-Fi.
“I also researched the meaning of ‘fi’ in ‘Semper Fi’ which is short for fidelity and means faithful or the exactness of something which is copied or reproduced. Also ‘fi’ as it is pronounced also means rock in Carolinian so Rebel-Fi is also rebel rock, said Roppul.
The genesis of Rebel-Fi actually came from Roppul watching and following his favorite Youtubers sometime in 2018. “They were all inspiring and I figured if they could do what they do and make a living out of it, I could. I ordered a hat press and a Silhouette Cameo 3.”
Just when he was about to launch his business, Super Typhoon Yutu hit Saipan.
“It was devastating. Our son was 1 year old at the time and it was hard for us. We went with no power or water for more than a month. Shortly after the typhoon hit, my Silhouette Cameo 3 came in the mail and I was so eager to use it,” he said.
Roppul and his family rented a hotel room and started their new venture from there. “We were short on rent, gas, food, etc. I came up with the idea of selling cheap Christmas gifts (customized ornaments) using the decal vinyl we ordered with our cutter, and we sold each for about $3 each.”
The customized ornaments were so popular with customers that their small hotel room looked like those ball pits children jump into.
“After that, my hat press came in and I started heat pressing hats. My hats sold like hotcakes [be]cause all the other shops were selling theirs for…double my price. Since then, I’ve learned to do sublimation printing and other crafts. I have a customer base that is growing rapidly and I’m doing all the work alone, so it’s overwhelming but, at the same time, very rewarding,” he said.
Rebel-Fi is currently selling its custom photo ornaments at 50% off ($10) throughout November.
The store is located next to LC Market across Kylie’s Bakery. For more information on Rebel-Fi, call Roppul at 783-8094.