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Starting is the hardest part; it only gets better – Azenith Soriano Antonio-Umipig

A former OFW in France, Azenith Soriano Antonio-Umipig was forced to stay in the Philippines due to Covid-19. She found a new calling with Zen’s Chili Garlic, must-have homemade condiments with a recipe she started developing while overseas.

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It was in July 2020 when Azenith Soriano Antonio-Umipig, 32, established Zen’s Chili Garlic with a startup capital of “roughly PhP1,500.”

“I was an OFW in France, working there for almost 11 years,” Zen said. She came home just for holidays, but Cvid-19 happened, which delayed her supposed flight back to France. Couple this with her father having surgery last February, “so I needed to stay a little bit longer.”

Zen is also the eldest child, and “you can only imagine the responsibilities and the pressure (placed on me).”

With bills continuing to pile up, “I thought of a way to generate an income.”

When she was in France, Zen used to make this chili oil for her husband. “So I came up with this idea to improve my recipe and decide to start a business with my chili garlic oil as the primary product.”

And so now we have Zen’s Chili Garlic.

“I am a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Commerce, so I have a good background about business. But I never thought that I’d get into food business. You see, I’m more like of an office person. I always thought that I’m destined to be in the office, sitting on my chair, checking on paper works, stuff like that,” Zen smiled.

Looking back, “I think the hardest part was the beginning, when we were brainstorming and formulating on the right product to sell. I tried my best to reach out and get some advice from my family and some trusted friends that has knowledge and background about cooking. With the present situation, we made sure to have a product that is mainly affordable and a staple in every household.”

Azenith Soriano Antonio-Umipig with her husband.

Yes her product is making a mark.

But “we are trying to make the most out of our profit by improving our products,” Zen said.

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

“Always be inspired and don’t be scared to start your business, but always be mindful and smart. You must assess your target consumers well. Put your heart into your products. Remember that the start is the hardest part; it only gets better,” Zen ended.

To try Zen’s Chili Garlic, contact 09167457418, email zhen_antonio@yahoo.com, or visit Instagram: @chiligarlicbyzen.

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Make time and go for it – Rankin Cailles

Like many, Rankin Cailles’ work was affected by Covid-19. This led to him opening By Chef Kin, an online bakery. He now says: “I say go for it even if you have a hectic schedule. It’s a continuous learning process.”

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By Chef Kin – an online bakery – was opened in May 2020, with a startup capital of approximately P100,000.

“I am a chef at an airline catering company,” said Rankin Cailles, who was ” used to (being) in the kitchen most of the time.” But then the lockdowns came, and “I was not used to being idle.” Itching to do something, “that’s when I started to bake breads and pastries at home.”

Cailles said that his family inspires him; ditto great chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Dominique Ansel and Gordon Ramsey.

But looking back now, “honestly, I was focused on being an employee for quite sometime,” said Cailles, who graduated from Enderun Colleges with a Bachelor’s degree in International Hospital Management major in Culinary Arts. But then “I had the time to bake and create new products.”

Here’s the thing, though: work re-started already for Cailles.

And so, he said, “right now, my biggest challenge is time. Since work resumed, I usually bake when I get home.” His wife – who also looks after their kid – helps out, along with her brother who is also studying culinary.

Rankin Cailles with his wife
The sous chef of Rankin Cailles

Cailles said that “in our less than a year operation, I can say it’s a profitable venture.” In fact, “yes, we already reached ROI; but we’re planning to purchase new equipment for efficiency.”

This is why – he stressed – going into business should be considered by people.

“I say go for it even if you have a hectic schedule. Make time because I learned a lot from starting By Chef Kin,” Cailles said. “It’s a continuous learning process for me.”

Interested to try the offerings of By Chef Kin? Head to FB: https://www.facebook.com/bychefkin or IG: https://www.instagram.com/bychefkin/.

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Explore things aligned to your passion – Lloyd Jeremy Matias

“Find your passion. Try exploring things aligned to your passion. Seek for business opportunities that is linked to that passion because nothing beats the feeling of doing what you really love and gaining something from it than doing things just for the sake of money,” said Lloyd Jeremy Matias of Mad Pastry PH.

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Mad Pastry PH – a small and local food brand located at Santa Rosa City, Laguna – was started in the last quarter of 2020, with initial capital of around PhP70,000 to PhP100,000 to cover the equipment, baking tools, kitchen renovation and packaging materials.

It may just be new (since the business started selling on December 10), but Lloyd Jeremy Matias can say in hindsight that “during this time of pandemic, I discovered a lot of things about myself, and that includes the talent of baking. At first, it was just a hobby – baking cookies and brownies – and then sharing them only to my family and friends.” 

Lloyd is a graduate of Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Engineering, which is really not aligned with baking; and “I came from a typical Filipino family, raised by parents who always inspires us to study, do well in school in order to find good paying jobs and the thought of business was really not taught,” he said. So “I was afraid to take risks.”

But then “there were a lot of positive feedbacks about my cookies.” It helped that his sister started giving out cookies – without Lloyd knowing of this – and these random people like what they got.

“I realized (that) maybe I should start trying online business, since it is trending nowadays. That is my trigger point on why I started this business,” Lloyd said.

Choosing this industry in particular, he added, was easy. “Food is essential and everyone loves food,” Lloyd said.

It’s only been weeks since the business started, so ROI has yet to be attained.

But “I am really hoping that this will be profitable. The reception of people is really overwhelming and I hope this continues since we will also continue improving our products and services,” Lloyd said.

So far, the only challenge for Lloyd is time. 

“I didn’t quite expect the number of orders coming our way on our first week of selling. We are overwhelmed by the acceptance of our customers and we do not have the right system and the right approach yet,” he said. “But of course, with extra brain and extra hands, nothing is impossible. I will commend my family for really helping me overcome… challenges.”

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

“Find your passion. Try exploring things aligned to your passion. Seek for business opportunities that is linked to that passion because nothing beats the feeling of doing what you really love and gaining something from it than doing things just for the sake of money,” Lloyd said. “Do whatever makes you happy.”

For more information or to order from Mad Pastry PH, head to Facebook or Instagram @madpastryph; call/text 09338649797; or email madpastry.ph@gmail.com.

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Love and be confident about your products – Marianne Rose Valera

Marianne Rose Valera established Yuna’s in 2019; and the biz has been growing. “Focus on something that you are passionate about when starting a business,” she said. “You’ve got to love and be confident about your products.”

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Yuna’s was started around October 2019, with an initial capital of around PhP2,000, and only with baked mac and Korean chicken wings in the menu, recalled Marianne Rose Valera. 

But it was a field she was bound to enter. 

Marianne Rose noted that online businesses have been trending, and “I’ve been wanting to have a business but can’t think of a product to sell… until I got the idea of selling comfort foods.”

It helps, of course, that “aside from cooking, I love feeding people. I grew up cooking with my mom (who) taught me the basics of cooking. And I am a housewife with a two year old daughter. I am a nurse by profession but chose to be a hands-on mom, putting aside my career for a moment. I thought of using my extra time on this food business,” she said.

Now, her family inspires her to do good. “In this time of crisis, I thought I’m still lucky having this business. My husband works abroad but due to the pandemic, work has been temporarily halted leaving him with no salary for three months. This business helped us through financially.”

There remain challenges.

For instance, “I am running my business alone. Prep work and cooking are tiring especially if you work alone,” she said. 

Also, “I have a two-year-old daughter who’s being looked after by my older sister if I have to cook or go to the grocery store to get supplies.”

All the same, “it is just a matter of time management.”

But yes, Marianne Rose already reached ROI; and she said this is a “profitable venture.”

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

“Focus on something that you are passionate about when starting a business,” she said. “You’ve got to love and be confident about your products.”

Wanna grab the offerings of Yuna’s? Head to Yuna’s Facebook page.

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