Mom, Competitive Swimmer, Entrepreneur, and Co-founder of Agos
Ea Mendoza on understanding what it means to go with the flow. From facing motherhood to growing a local start-up, the competitive athlete knows how to adapt in both worlds.
Portraits by Mica Ferrer and Tarish Zamora
What do you love most about being a mom?
I am a wife and a mother to 2 girls. Being a mom has taught me a lot and everyday is a chance to learn and discover things you thought you weren’t capable of.
I have purely breastfed both my kids for two years and more and it was a wonderful blessing to give that to them. It's the simple things like breastfeeding when you realize you have sacrificed a part of yourself, but still feel whole.
In this stage of my life, I’ve learned how to embrace everything, to do the things I have to do for my family, and to not give up.
What are your daughters like?
Santi and Sofia are both artistic. And they love the water and enjoy the beach as much as we do.
Santi is ten years old. She’s quite shy, reserved, and soft spoken when you first meet her. She’s a silent worker and a leader with her schoolmates. She can accomplish any task you give her but gets frustrated when she’s having a hard time.
I remember Santi snorkeling with me in Batangas. I didn't expect to find her with me in the deep end. She was just holding on to a small floaty and enjoying the school of jacks beneath us. It was such a memorable moment for me. I was so stoked to share that moment with her because she didn't mind how deep the water was or how far we were from the shore.
Sofia is five years old. She can be a bit naughty when she feels comfortable in the environment. She’ll sweet talk her way out of anything and not feel guilty about it. She would copy whatever I’m doing and give me company, even if it’s just doing a chore or working out at home.
"In this stage of my life, I’ve learned how to embrace everything, to do the things I have to do for my family, and to not give up."
How did being a mom impact the way you saw yourself as an entrepreneur?
I love being a mom. It was something God gave me when I least expected it, just like how Agos unfolded through time.
I had to juggle both and it was challenging given the situation and resources I had. It was like having two babies at the same time. It made me choose to work and stay at home. It also took away my time and love for the outdoors and the beach.
It was hard to accept at first that the brand we built was away from the “scene”. But I eventually learned how to grow with it the best way I can—just like how I grew and found my own family.
It took a lot of faith, patience, and trust knowing that what we planted will grow into something we envisioned from the start. Everything just unfolded right in front of me at the right pace and time.
"Agos swimwear was created from my love for water sports—it’s for those athletes and water sports enthusiasts like me who understand the need for a bikini that can move with us."
You were also a competitive swimmer. Where did you get your love for competitive swimming?
I was exposed to swimming at an early age. It was my dad who pushed me to compete in swimming at the age of 11 or 12. Since then, I trained and competed for my swim club and eventually joined the DLSU varsity swim team to compete at UAAP. I wasn’t a medalist, but I gained victories by beating my own best times and participating in competitions.
I was really surrounded by a competitive team and a coach who pushed us to train outside our comfort zones. Joining fun meets, like open water swimming, aquathlons, or trying other sports always taught me something about life—not just about the sport. Especially during training, I learned how to endure pain both mentally and physically.
I feel that's why I enjoyed working out and exploring different sports with my friends after college. That was about the same time I also discovered surfing.
Do you have a favorite competition that you’ve participated in?
Eight years ago, I was invited to swim for a relay team for the Century tuna 5150 triathlon event. I signed up without knowing who my other teammates were. It was just an opportunity for me to join a relay team for an organization and I felt confident enough to finish the 1.5 km swim.
The thrill of swimming in the open water just excites me. Overcoming the constant battle of my mental state over physical strength is another thing but the challenge that comes with it is something I enjoy, especially when I'm in a race. It just motivates me more to swim and finish strong, and to make my teammates proud and eager to finish their races as well.
What is it about water sports that you love?
I love water sports, especially being in the sea because that's my element—just being happy and free. I specifically enjoy the adrenaline in surfing and wakeboarding. I love embracing the pain, whether it’s from a rough paddle out, struggling with a wipeout, or completing a round in a wake park. I would just crave these things, but I can’t do them in my city life. So when I’m in that kind of environment, it just puts me on a high.
I am just truly happy when I engage in water sports. That’s where I can express myself fully. I would always know what I’m capable of in the water.
Was there a specific road bump in Agos you found difficult to overcome?
Back in 2009, there were only a few local brands catering to the surfing and beach lifestyle. The demand was pretty high and we couldn’t keep up with the market. Our products were always limited and nothing was constant in our collections.
Unexpected things like limited stocks would always affect our momentum. We had to constantly adjust. Even how we developed products evolved too. As we matured, our taste matured too.
Honestly, I’ve been blessed to have a co-founder who I trust and understand. We never let our personal problems affect our business. We both had to learn along the way and let our business adjust with us as we grew up. I think that's why our brand remained constant even with all the difficulties. We’re all going with the flow.
"We both had to learn along the way and let our business adjust with us as we grew up. I think that's why our brand remained constant even with all the difficulties. We’re all going with the flow."
What was your original vision for Agos?
When we started Agos, there were just a few local brands catering to the beach and surfing lifestyle. We really envisioned the brand to reach one surf spot at a time—to be known in the local scene. We started with a strong lineup of products, like the Paddle Lang t-shirt and the Barabag duffel bag. But our goal ever since was to have a swimwear line.
Then in 2015, when we found our calling to focus on functional swimwear. We just created a basic bikini with surfing in mind so people can really enjoy riding waves. Not long after that, our customers would tell us how the bikini stayed on even after a nasty wipeout. We got so stoked about that. We eventually became picky with the fabric, only selecting fabric that will let you perform your best in the water.
Now we consider our brand to be slow fashion since we produce quality over quantity each time. We just learned not to let ourselves down whenever we would compare our products with other fast fashion swimwear brands. We just focused on what set us apart, especially when our loyal clients would be willing to wait for us to restock collections. Or when a first time customer would consult with us before purchasing her first Agos bikini just so she can test the fit on her. We even gained longtime friends from this experience, some of them becoming ambassadors for Agos.
Personally, Agos swimwear was created from my love for water sports—it’s for those athletes and water sports enthusiasts like me who understand the need for a bikini that can move with us.