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There’s no ‘right timing’; just face your fears – Karen Tricia Aquino

Karen Tricia Aquino was initially scared to start her business. But when she opened ‘Kreations by K’, she got ROI in less than a month. “There’s no ‘right timing’. You just have to face your fears, just take that leap of faith and work hard.”

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Karen Tricia Aquino grew up in a family of dentists, “and I have practically lived my whole life under their shadow. I never knew any other career aside from being a doctor and that made me quite unhappy.”

As outlet from the stress, she used to bake.

One day, “I just had enough of it and decided that it’s time to move past this and chase after what would make me truly happy and satisfied. After fervent prayers and an excruciating period of time to think about what I want to do with my life, I brainstormed things I was good at and passionate about. My only criterion was that it should be something I would never get tired of learning about and eventually got my answer.”

At this point, baking entered the picture for her.

“Those practice sessions started out as an escape until it became a part of me. When I realized that there was potential, it no longer became practice. Baking was more than just relieving stress and it definitely was more than showcasing skills. Eventually, my end goal was to satisfy, to please, and make people happy and so I shifted my concentration from the medical field to the culinary arts.”

Karen scouted for good culinary schools within the metro until a friend of hers recommended a good school just a few minutes away from her home.

“I wasted no time and enrolled in Southville International School Affiliated with Foreign Universities (SISFU) and finished my degree in Culinary Arts. What reeled me in is its partnership and standardization with Pearson College, London,” she recalled.

Of course she was scared of starting her own business.

“I was fully aware that food industry is a very daunting world and so I always stuck to cooking for myself, my family and my friends,” she said.

But one day, “my mom and I tried something we’ve never done before. We wanted to see what our food would look like as packages we could maybe sell. Our packaging looked pretty good so I decided to try posting it on an online group within our community and check out the response. I am thankful I did that experiment because from there everything just fell into place and I slowly started adding more items in my menu until I was open for business.”

So with a capital of only PhP6,000 to PhP7,000 (loaned from her parents), she started ‘Kreations by K’.

“The person who inspires me the most is my mother. Despite her busy schedule in her clinic, she still finds time and still has the energy to cook delicious meals for the family. Despite how tired she must be, she still glows when she’s in the kitchen. I guess I got it from her, and I’m thankful that she pushes me to do my own thing and practice more,” she said.

“You need to come in prepared. Before you start your business make a work flow system that would best fit you and this includes weekly order entries, inventories, expenses, etc.”

Karen’s capital was handily returned in a few weeks.

“So far, one my greatest challenges is that I am a one woman show. I do everything from start to finish, resulting to limited stocks every week. I’m constantly developing my own system that would propel the business further, efficiently producing quality output,” she said.

Aside from this, another challenge she faces is the delivery method.

“It is very difficult to find couriers that would actually take care of the products that you send. So most of the time, I deliver the more fragile products personally.”

However, “the greatest challenge of all is this pandemic. Since the situation is worsening in our country, I’m currently thinking of ways to avoid physically leaving my kitchen to buy stocks or deliver food items. Sometimes that would make price a little higher but I’d like to think of it as an investment instead of a loss because it helps me avoid any possible exposure to the virus. It’s more like investing on yourself and your personal safety.”

With her business continuing to boom, “I am now able to set aside money as profit from my products. Selling cookies and desserts is a profitable venture. As Filipinos, we love to have dessert after a meal and we also love merienda. When you create a treat that is delicious without compromising its quality, people will come back for more.”

And for people who may want to also open their business, what tips can Karen give?

“You need to come in prepared. Before you start your business make a work flow system that would best fit you and this includes weekly order entries, inventories, expenses, etc,” she said. “There’s no ‘right timing’. You just have to face your fears, just take that leap of faith and work hard. Its honestly scary, but it’s your passion and your drive that will make you fly to greater heights.”

To try the tasty offerings of ‘Kreations by K’, head to its Facebook page or IG: @kreationsbykta.

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‘Don’t be discouraged nor lose hope even if the process is difficult’ – Cyramae Ubaldo

This February, Cyramae Ubaldo opened a candle business, Candle La Vie, with a start-up capital of around around P10,000. “Don’t be discouraged and lose hope even if the process is difficult. It will always be hard at first.”

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This February, Cyramae Ubaldo opened a candle business, Candle La Vie, with a start-up capital of around around P10,000.

“(When) I started planning my wedding, I thought scented candles would make great souvenirs,” she recalled. Though, obviously, these would also be applicable for any other events. And “that gave me an idea to start this business.”

Since she finished BS IT, Cyramae said she never imagined that candle making would become her passion. In a way, this makes the venture challenging.

“Some days I tend to become hesitant if I’m going to pursue this business. (I have) lots of negative thoughts (about this business) – e.g. that it might fail right away, that no one would purchase the goods, that my candles won’t be pleasing compared to others,” she said.

But with the support of her partner, “I was able to push through.”

She has yet to reach ROI, but Cyramae thinks this is a profitable business.

And for people who may want to also open their own business, what tips can Cyramae give? 

“Don’t be discouraged and lose hope even if the process is difficult. It will always be hard at first. The most important thing is that you love and you’re happy of what you’ve been doing. Even it is a small progress, it’s still one step towards your goal,” Cyramae ended.

For those who want to get in touch with Candle La Vie, head to Facebook or Instagram.

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Create value for your biz to succeed – Jico Ambrocio

Jico Ambrocio, founder of Elo Athletics, believes in creating value for your customers. “Understanding how your brand will fit in and provide value in an industry is the key to consistently growing your brand and following.”

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Elo Athletics – better known as just Elo – was conceptualized around July 2020, and officially launched via Instagram in October of the same year with an investment of around PhP150,000 to cover startup costs and the initial inventory of products.

It was, perhaps, a line of business Jico Ambrocio would eventually enter.

“I’ve been very close to the fitness industry, trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle ever since I was in high school,” he said. “I was an active gym goer before and I pursued weightlifting as my main source of physical activity throughout college and even when I started working.”

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Jico was placed in a similar position as many others – i.e. “I couldn’t keep doing it because all the gyms had to temporarily close down.”

Jico tried exercising at home by doing bodyweight exercises such as HIIT, but he said he didn’t enjoy it as much as working out in the gym “maybe because there was always a feeling of isolation and uncertainty during this pandemic, that I couldn’t push myself to perform intense exercises.”

And then he came across Yoga, “and it really changed my perspective on health. Yoga taught me to be mindful of my emotions and to adopt a holistic approach to fitness.”

The newfound love – i.e. Yoga – led to the establishment of Elo Athletics.

“I… felt that the brand can open opportunities to spread the importance of taking care of our well-being, especially our mental health,” Jico said.

LOVING THE INDUSTRY YOU CHOOSE

It helps that Jico studied Business Administration and Accountancy in college, and “it has always been a personal dream to be able to start and grow my own brand. Back then, I thought my first brand would fall under either the food or fashion industry, and not in the industry that Elo is currently a part of.”

All the same, “thinking about it now, I love the industry that I’m in because I know that the products and services we can create will be valued by a lot of people since most of us really value our well-being. My degree helped me make better decisions for the brand but it was my personal experiences that really pushed me to do my best.”

As a new biz, “we haven’t reached ROI yet,” Jico admitted. Nonetheless, “I’m seeing a lot of opportunities for the brand to grow and I’m still personally investing more money in it so we can create better experiences for our customers. I would say that it’s a profitable venture because we are able to generate a healthy volume of sales, but it also requires a lot of patience to see it through until it eventually reaches ROI. Hopefully that happens soon.”

FACING CHALLENGES

There are still challenges.

“One of the main challenges I face is being insecure about the brand and its progress. I’m constantly aware of the actions of competitors and I tend to compare the growth of my brand to theirs — which has negative effects on my confidence, and belief in our products,” Jico admitted. 

However, “I have learned to overcome this feeling by focusing on the things we currently have. I realized that if I start looking inward — looking at positive customer reviews, or how many customers we’ve served, I am able to help myself view these challenges positively and constructively.”

On the business side, delivery and logistics are also challenging the running of the business. 

“I have to ensure that the products arrive to customers on time and in their best state. This means that I would also put a lot of effort into tracking the status of deliveries and communicating with customers, and consistently working with our couriers and partners to make sure that the delivery process is good,” Jico said.

But Jico is confident Elo will eventually carve its name in this industry.

JUST START

And for people who may want to also open their business, what tips can Jico give?

“Don’t be afraid to start! The fact that we have to invest money in a business means that we have a tendency to make sure that everything is perfect before launching — because no one wants their money to go to waste. However, the act of actually launching your product/service and getting it out there will really help you create better products/services for the people you cater to. Start with something small, listen to your customers, innovate and improve, and things will get better,” he said.

It helps to do initial research about the industry: the product, the prospective customers, competitors, etc. “Understanding how your brand will fit in and provide value in an industry is the key to consistently growing your brand and following,” Jico ended.

For more information or to order, head to IG: @elo.athletics, or Facebook.

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Believe in your product – Jansen Prado

The Pantry Project Manila was established only on July 16, 2020, with a startup capital of approximately P25,000. “Make sure that you believe in whatever your product is. Be passionate. Challenges will abound and your passion will keep you going,” said Jansen Prado, owner of The Pantry Project Manila.

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The Pantry Project Manila was established only on July 16, 2020, with a startup capital of approximately P25,000.

“Our family loves to cook. We just love cooking and making our guests happy with food.. good food at that… And we always had this plan to launch our family’s heirloom recipes. We want to ‘put them out there’ and share to everyone the love and passion that goes into every dish,” said Jansen Prado, owner of The Pantry Project Manila.

In fact, by the end of 2019, “we were already gearing up to launch our mom’s estofado seco; and we planned to sell them in jars.”

But then COVID-19 happened…

Though, initially, “we decided to put everything to a halt… we saw how the pandemic hit so many of our ‘kababayans’. We had to do something.” And so “we aimed to help not just our own kitchen but other home cooks, too, who were displaced by the pandemic. We reached out to people whom we knew can lead us to people that can cook really well.”

And so, yes, The Pantry Project Manila came into being.

The first dish offered was the “badass bopis”, a recipe “loaned to us by our mom,” Jansen said.

Now, why bopis?

“(We) want the public to be comfortable eating bopis. That bopis can be very meticulously prepared, clean and positively distinguished. And that bopis can be gourmet and not be too expensive at the same time,” Jansen said.

ROI has already been reached, and “I am really very grateful.” This is also a profitable business, though “hard work and creativity are really essential.”

In hindsight, “I never thought I would be the one who will be pushing this plan. I have pictured my sisters to make this business materialize. I was so much into what I was doing in the corporate world that I did not see this coming,” Jansen said.

Fortunately for him, he has a degree in Marketing Management that “I find very helpful to the business.”

There remain challenges.

“The biggest challenge, especially during these times in the MSME world, is creating your market, your niche,” Jansen said.

Also, “with our main product, the Badass Bopis, it was hard to convince people that it is worth trying. A lot of people have reservations regarding eating the dish. So yeah, we had to add more to the menu.”

Businesses, of course, need to learn to face challenges.

For Jansen, the approach is to “focus on our purpose and knowing that there are a number of people who depend on the online pantry’s operations; this keeps us going.”

And for people who may want to also open their business, what tips can Jansen give?

“Make sure that you believe in whatever your product is. Be passionate. Challenges will abound and your passion will keep you going. Always welcome change as it is inevitable. Patience. You need tons of this. Have faith. No day is the same, so stay calm, focus, work harder. Optimism will never hurt,” Jansen ended.

Wanna get in touch with The Pantry Project Manila? Head to Facebook or Instagram: @pantryprojectmnl; email pantryprojectmnl@gmail.com; or call/text 09052700617.

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