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Fight for your passion – Stephanie Escaño

Stephanie Escaño established BREW.optimism this May, and it’s making a mark for “providing optimism in every cup”.

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Even in 2019, Stephanie Escaño already planned to open her own coffee shop. Certain things happened – including Covid-19 – that prevented her from doing this; but the idea to sell coffee persisted. And with around PhP5,000 to PhP7,000.00 in capital (covering the coffee, bottles, labels, and other ingredients and equipment used for the cold brew coffee), she established BREW.optimism.

The business was originally supposed to be called just BREW, “but when you apply for a username on Facebook and Instagram, it is such a common word. So I opted to add .optimism since the idea was to provide optimism in every cup of coffee made,” she said.

Stephanie said she always loved coffee.

Drinking coffee “has been a bonding experience for me and my dad, and it has been my companion through different stages/milestones in my life. Aside from that, I wanted to give Filipinos the opportunity to enjoy a great cup of coffee without paying over PhP120 pesos.”

The lockdown “helped” her, since “most of my weekends are now spent at home, I became more motivated to really get this going and I have more time to really focus on the business.”

Looking back, Stephanie said she sort of knew this was a field she would enter.

“I really love being in the kitchen and being able to make food or baked goods for my family and friends. I took up Hotel and Restaurant Management at St. Scholastica’s College Manila because I knew I wanted to be in the hospitality industry. After graduating, it took me three and a half years before I got the courage to pursue my passion in coffee,” she said.

The venue has done well thus far.

“Currently, we have reached ROI on our initial investment, but we are still putting money into the business to further develop our products,” she said. “Yes, I think the venture is definitely profitable, especially with the Filipinos’ innate love of coffee.”

There remain challenges.

For instance, due to the current situation, “we are not able to tap bigger markets since we cannot venture far (e.g. to join bazaars, have a pop-up stall at events, etc). Right now, we are focusing on providing quality cold brew coffee here in our neighborhood in Las Piñas, though we do get some orders from Manila and Quezon City from time to time that we fulfill by consolidating orders and using courier services.”

Another challenge was sourcing our bottles. “Since we are a small business, we do not have the purchasing power to order thousands of bottles in one go, so we had to resort to purchasing from resellers that could accommodate our orders. More often than not, their prices would change all the time or their stocks would run out immediately so we had to have back-up suppliers,” Stephanie added.

But Stephanie keeps a positive spirit, seeing these challenges as learning opportunities.

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

“Give yourself time to plan – whether you are making a ‘super detailed, planned to the last item’ type plan or you want to start with a rough idea and slowly get all the pieces together, give yourself time to figure out exactly what you want from your business, and at least try to see what direction you want it to go in (e.g. a part-time job, working whenever you feel like it, moving towards a full-time business),” Stephanie said.

Entrepreneurs should also have “a fighting spirit if you really want your business to succeed. Because in my opinion, you really have to believe in what you sell for others to believe in it, too,” she said. “Which is my second tip – it is both much easier and more difficult to put up a business related to something you are passionate about. Easier in the sense that you can love what you are doing to the point that it sometimes does not feel like work, but also much more difficult when you do not meet the standards you set for yourself or your products, or when you encounter setbacks. But in the end, the pros of working with something you are passionate about outweigh the cons… at least for me. So I am glad that I am lucky enough to pursue a business I believe in.”

Wanna taste the coffees of BREW.optimism? Head to Facebook and Instagram, and shoot them a message to “place your orders and we will do our best to provide you with optimism in a cup.”

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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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