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Rise from tragedy, helm a business – Connie Hina

Connie Hina’s daughter, Lordei Camille Anjuli, was robbed, stabbed and left for dead over eight years ago. She survived, and is now baking as part of her therapy. And their biz’s offerings are good, too, now making a splash.

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The formal start of Lordei’s Whip & Bake Corner was on June 9, 2020, “when one of our neighbors bought our first banana loaf and other neighbors signified their interest to buy,” Connie Hina said. “We decided to have a formal online launching by creating an FB Page on June 20, 2020.”

The startup capital: PhP1,400.

But prior to this, Connie said they have been sharing samples of their baked goods to neighbors and the gate guards (particularly when they had significant events like birthdays). These goods were a hit, and “we gathered positive feedback on the taste and consistency.”

And given the Covid-19 pandemic, “we realized that demand for food products that can be purchased online increased, especially since baked shops and restaurants are either closed or not operating regularly. We saw this as an opportunity to try the market of ready-to-eat products that can respond to people’s cravings for finely and uniquely delicious baked goods.”

A DEEPER STORY

But what not many may immediately know is that Connie’s family’s venture into this line of business was triggered by a tragic occurrence.

Eight years ago, her daughter, Lordei Camille Anjuli, was a fourth-year UP Diliman B.S Political Science student and active student leader. In the afternoon of the 1st of February 2012, inside the USC Office, Vinzons Hall, UP Diliman – while on volunteer duties for the University Student Council – Lordei was robbed, stabbed seven times in the left side of her head with an ice pick and beaten in the face with a metal object.

“Her assailants pretended to be applicants of a booth for the UP Fair,” Connie said.

The most fatal stab wound was the one that pierced through from the left to the right side of her brain (just like “na-barbecue”); likewise, a skull bone fragment of one centimeter in size got embedded in her brain. Moreover, the beating before the deadly stabbing fractured both of Lordei’s sinuses and nose bridge.

“Worst, the suspect locked the room of the USC Office before he fled, leaving my bloody and unconscious daughter lying on the floor. It took about 30 minutes before my daughter’s companion found a key to open the door, after which, she was rushed to the hospital,” Connie said.

Lordei survived as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) victim. But the double brain injuries impaired Lordei’s memory, speech, cognitive and motor skills.

“It is a miracle that Lordei survived; thank God. She was given a slim chance considering the magnitude of damage to her brain,” Connie said.

Lordei was confined in the hospital for more than three months, with almost a month of being in coma. Afterwards, she could not move her body, eat and talk. After her discharge, she continued with her rehabilitation and therapies at home – i.e. occupational, physical speech, neuro-psychology, etc. – to regain her brain-related functions that had been damaged.

Lordei can already walk, talk and eat on her own at present, but her right arm is still semi-paralyzed, she has memory lapses, and behaving like a child from time to time. Her injured hypothalamus affects her emotion and body temperature.

“Thank God she is not violent like other victims of TBI. She is still under continuous medication and therapies up to this moment,” Connie said.

To engage in a productive activity as part of her therapy based on the advice of her doctor, Lordei started baking.

“The business is also a way to help her augment the cost of her continued medication and therapies. As a single mother, I am the sole breadwinner for my daughter,” Connie said.

INSPIRATIONAL MOVE

Lordei is, of course, the inspiration for this business; but Connie said that her son Carlo, and niece Joyjoy (a nurse by profession) helped push this business forward.

“In fact, at that time when my daughter was stabbed, Carlo was baking her favorite, a blueberry cheesecake. It was still in the oven (when the tragedy happened) and the baking had to be stopped as we rushed to the hospital,” Connie recalled.

Looking back, this seemed like a field they were going to go into.

“My late mother – Nanay Inday Silveria – was an excellent cook. She could blend simple ingredients into something very delicious and palatable. The smile of those who ate her dishes was a reward for her,” Connie said. “It is from her where I learn how to cook and bake simple cakes.”

JUST A START

Connie is still planning to own another business – in agri-business, not baking. “I want to have a self-sufficient and sustainable farm in my home town in Southern Leyte; but come to think of it, the ingredients we used are from the farm – so it is more production or adding value of processed farm products,” she said.

Connie completed Master in Management – major in Development Management in her post graduate degree, and a B.S. in Agricultural Business Management in her college degree in UP Los Baños.

So the business is aligned with her expertise because the concept of management in general, and financial and marketing management, in particular are the same across business types. “So this business is like a laboratory for me – where I can apply practically what I learned from my academic studies and in my work experience as international consultant and trainer on financial inclusion and development management.”

FACING CHALLENGES

“Every business start-up is always faced with challenges in various degree as part of the ‘birth pains’. But so far, we encountered only minimal challenges like taking longer time to book courier for deliveries, non-availability of ingredients, especially now that many people are engaging in baking. There are also customers who want to buy right away, thinking that we have a physical store or outlet,” Connie said.

They have been coming up with specialized solutions – e.g. with the courier, they resort to other available courier or, “worst case scenario, we deliver using our car – which we also use for TNVS – like Grab,” Connie said.

For the availability of ingredients, “we buy in bulk so we have stocks.” And for those who want to buy right away, “we inform them to give us time and place the order at least two to three days prior to delivery date. Although there are instances when we have less delivery for a day, we accommodate them and they can order and have it delivered within the day.”

GOOD BIZ MOVE

Is this a profitable venture?

“There is not much of an investment cost here since we do not have a stall or a physical outlet. The main investments are the oven (of which the shelf life is already exhausted) and baking equipment and utensils. We bought a new portable oven though after two weeks to accommodate our batch delivery. I would say the cost is relatively not that much so I can say we already have attained our ROI since we started,” Connie said.

For people who may want to also open their business, what tips can Connie give?

“One must have a passion on something and transform that passion into concrete goals. Set a goal first then break it into do-ables – plan – take the first step to make it happen,” Connie said.

Then look at the market (demand and supply side). “What opportunity can one take advantage of – like in this pandemic – despite the many negative impacts it brings? There are also many opportunities.”

Connie also recommends for people to “be creative and always think of the satisfaction of the customer”; directly communication with customers (e.g. thank them during the first point of contact – regardless if they are only asking or placing order already, get their feedbacks after each complete order and send a personalized note); and for a family business, make sure that each involved member of the family is in the same mindset, commitment and passion.

Lastly, do the business not just purely for profit but on how this business can be of help.

“Our slogan is order for a cause. While the cause is for my daughter, but still, if my daughter can be helped and can get back to normal, she can help a lot more people (she already did before the tragedy happened). She is still hoping that she can be a lawyer someday and help the disadvantaged and discriminated who are deprived of justice and their rights,” Connie said.

In ending, Connie said to “always put God (or whoever one believes in – higher self) first in everything (regardless of what religion you belong to). Seek for guidance and bring Him in what you think, say and do. Have deep faith that in every business or undertaking, it is an expression of who you are – unique creation, regardless of status in life, gender orientation, etc.”

To support Lordei’s Whip & Bake Corner, head to Facebook; email lordeiwbc@gmail.com; or call/text 09566090363.

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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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