It was around August 2017 when Gem Zapanta established “Put It In Paper”, with a start-up capital of PhP5,000. It was an easy decision to make, since Gem was the “go-to person for stationery and DIY (for) my peers,” she said, adding that “I had too much stationery so I started selling those I didn’t use.”
But now a successful business, “Put It In Paper” tries to be unique, according to Gem. And this uniqueness is what sets it apart from others.
“I create value and experience for my clients,” she said, adding that with “Put It In Paper”, a client does not “just buy stationeries or have your invitation or wax seal made. Instead, I involve the clients in the process. thereby making it a unique experience for each and every item/parcel/project.”
Gem added that with “Put It In Paper”, what’s produced is “made specifically for you.”
Curious to try some of the offerings of “Put It In Paper”” Must-grab are the customized wax seal stamps, selling from PhP1,200.
But there’s more, so head to Instagram: @putitinpaper (https://www.instagram.com/putitinpaper/).
Filipino aircraft model creator to expand operations to seize opportunities in e-commerce boom
Lyndon Uson is a Filipino craftsman and entrepreneur whose innate passion for airplanes and experience moved him to venture into the business of handcrafting high quality military and civilian aircraft models.
In the Philippines, creating aircraft models is a rare business with only 10 known local companies working in this industry. Lyndon Uson, founder of AircraftCity – the home of quality model aircrafts and plaques – continues to make his mark in this booming yet competitive creative field by captivating both the local and global markets with his artistic skills and a reliable service delivery.
Lyndon Uson is a Filipino craftsman and entrepreneur whose innate passion for airplanes and experience moved him to venture into the business of handcrafting high quality military and civilian aircraft models. With the support from his family and industry peers, he soon opened his own company, AircraftCity, which grew and expanded its operations attracting customers from all around the world.
AircraftCity’s models undergo a meticulous process to maintain a high-level of workmanship. Each of its produced handicrafts are designed from scratch and are hand-carved in solid Kiln Dried Philippine Mahogany wood. All the parts are then assembled and hand painted by talented craftsmen. With Lyndon’s hands-on production methods and tight quality control procedures, the accuracy of the product is guaranteed from start to finish increasing its quality. “We are very particular about details. Since our models are handmade, characteristics such as the size of the propeller and the internal cockpit are taken into design consideration. My forte is developing models that my competitors aren’t making or aren’t able to develop,” shared Lyndon.
As his work became internationally recognized, Lyndon soon formed a partnership with Aviator Gear, a US-based e-commerce platform for custom military aviation gear. This partnership brought in resources that enabled AircraftCity to export their creations and connect with global customers. With a wider network, Lyndon is able to focus on design, production, and shipment of orders to customers from the US, Europe and other parts of the world.
AircraftCity is thankful throughout the pandemic, the company has seen a consistent and increasing demand for their products. Lyndon connects this continued growth with a strong e-commerce presence. As such, Lyndon looks to build another factory to further scale his operations as he mentioned that “even our American partner is pushing us to expand as he foresees the production and orders of scaled aircrafts models to double by 2022.”
For Lyndon, forming strategic partnerships and networks are pivotal for small and medium enterprises like AircraftCity to leverage opportunities in the current e-commerce boom. When it comes to cross-border sales, safe and timely delivery is as important as the quality and integrity of the product. Ensuring that both aspects of the business are essential not only to ensure satisfaction but also trust among online customers.
In shipping its products, AircraftCity has relied on the valuable services of FedEx. The company has been a FedEx customer since 2013. “We make it a point that our logistics provider understands that our products are delicate and with FedEx, they offer different shipping tools and solutions that enables me to optimize costs and delivery efficiency,” Lyndon says.
With FedEx as his logistics provider, Lyndon is able to connect to every U.S. address and to more than 220 countries and territories, allowing his business to grow exponentially and to reach a wider range of customers.
FedEx is a strong advocate for the growth of small and medium enterprises across the Asia Pacific region with its seamless courier services, helping many local businesses grow and launch to foreign markets.
WeClean Philippines continues expansion, eyes 500 laundry branches by 2025
After securing additional funds from both local and foreign investors in 2021, fully integrated laundry service provider WeClean is ready to take on the challenge of expanding its laundromat business across the Philippines and nearby Southeast Asian countries.
“The funding we secured last year has really fueled us to aggressively expand our operations to open and manage 500 laundromats not just in nearby provinces but across the whole of the Philippines in the next three years. It is a massive goal for us to be able to stay true to our plans and move forward with our plans for the year,” shares Ignacio Phelan, Chief Operating Officer, WeClean.
On Overcoming the Effects of the Pandemic
The team behind WeClean claims that the COVID-19 pandemic, though a challenge, actually also presented them with opportunities. “Sales were greatly affected but we were also able to buy competitors at very low costs. At the beginning of the pandemic, we closed some branches that were losing money and reallocated the machines to better performing ones. However, last year showed us great promise as the demand for laundry businesses grew as it was an essential service most Filipinos need,” adds Phelan.
In its mission to expand, WeClean identified strategically located existing brick and mortar businesses whose owners were looking for a change. “The way we secure and close deals to purchase small players in the laundromat industry is by talking to strategically located businesses who want to change their core business or retire from running their operations,” says Alfonso Bigeriego Patiño, Chief Executive Officer, WeClean.
WeClean also prides itself in being efficient and decisive. “At WeClean, we make decisions quickly as making them an offer within 24 hours of receiving their financial reports. This shows them that we mean serious business,” adds Patiño.
On Expanding Across the Country and Region
The company manages and operates 63 branches to date and plans to expand outside of Metro Manila with branches in nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and even as far as Palawan. “We look at residential areas with a lot of traffic such as those within distance from high-rise condominiums or barangays where people cannot afford to have washing machines at home. These nearby provinces are key to our business growth plan. And in a few months after successfully opening in Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Palawan, we are eyeing to open our first branches in other SEA countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia,” Patiño adds.
While plans have not been set on stone yet, WeClean is optimistic that their growth plan will take them to places where the laundry business is in demand. The team is also simultaneously working on the launch of the WeClean Mobile App.
Enhancing Customer Experience
On April 1, WeClean will be officially making available its mobile application aiming to make customer experience better, more convenient, and accessible to more Filipinos in Metro Manila. The app is equipped with features such as the ability to book a pickup and delivery service as well as pre-book a laundry branch drop-off with certain customer specifications such as the type of clothing, type of fold, type of wash/dry, how much soap or fabric conditioner to be used, etc.
“This platform will up the notch when it comes to listening to and providing our customers what they really need – time-saving accessible laundry services at the tip of their fingers. We want to offer direct communication at a time when laundry has really become part and parcel of everyday life,” muses Phelan.
Available on the AppStore and Google Play, the WeClean App will surely help more consumers find laundry services convenient even during their busiest days. “With our aim to bring our laundry shops closer to Filipinos, we are hoping that we will be able to help our customers realize the true benefit of trusting a reliable laundromat like ours. And as we launch our mobile app, we are eyeing to be able to have between 25,000 to 30,000 downloads in Metro Manila alone by year-end,” closes Phelan.
To learn more about WeClean Philippines, visit weclean.ph or their Facebook page for updates and announcements.
FFTG as a must-visit cafe… and safe space in Quezon City
Introducing FFTG (Food For The Gays), a new safe space for LGBTQIA people located in Quezon City.
FFTG – or Food For The Gays, a play at dessert “food for the gods” – wants to be seen as more than just a community café, Instead, said FFTG co-owners (and partners in life) Chippy Abando and Nariese Giangan, this is a place where you – LGBTQIA people, and even those who are not – can be who you are without fearing to be judged. In a gist: a safe space.
“This isn’t common,” said Chippy. What we usually have as spaces for LGBTQIA people are bars, so “maiba naman yung meeting place (here’s a different meeting place).” This is particularly since “not everyone (goes out to) drink, or go dancing.” There are some who prefer to be in a place more conducive for meetings, for that first date, etc so that “malaking bagay na nagkaroon tayo ng community safe space (in FFTG).”
Nariese used to sell pastries online, around April 2020. Then this February, just as Chippy celebrated her birthday, they opened the physical venue.
With FFTG – and even if the name denotes members of the LGBTQIA community – “there’s no specific market targeted,” said Nariese, stressing that everyone is welcome here.
But Nariese said two things are worth highlighting here.
On one hand, they believe that creating a safe space for members of the LGBTQIA community pays off because “we believe in the pink peso.” This point’s worth stressing because when the pandemic happened, many venues closed, including LGBTQIA venues; and “for sure, particularly after the pandemic, there’d be yearning to be in another safe space.”
On the other hand, “we believe in our products.” Meaning, what they offer do not just look good in the menu; they’re actually tasty. Meaning, too, what they have “are something (we’re excited) to share.”
Opening a business with a partner – or even with others – can be challenging, admitted Nariese. But what makes it easier is they are at a point where “we both already know what we want.”
Besides, for Chippy, it helps that this has become a real partnership – i.e. they complement each other. Nariese, for instance, oversees food-related concerns; while Chippy focuses on the beverages. That they can help each other out as needed in their areas of focus is just a plus.
The menu – albeit short – contains various offerings.
For the food, consider:
-Pasta a la Carbonara (P150)
-Spaghetti alla Chitarra (P160)
-Pesto Pasts with Grilled Cajun Chicken (P180)
-Margherita pizza (P160)
-Meat Lover’s (P190)
-FFTG Special (P220)
-Banh Mi (lemongrass beef, chicken satay, char siu pork, P115-P150)
For the drinks, consider:
-Thai iced tea (P80)
-Iced drinks (mocha latte, coffee shakerato, cafe au lait, coffee creamery, from P80-P110)
-Hot chocolate (P70-P90)
If you’re in the mood to try something… rainbow-inspired, try the Rainbow Grilled Sandwich, which is, basically, grilled bread with rainbow-colored cheese fillings. That it doesn’t taste “fake cheese” is definitely a plus.
FOCUS ON EXPERIENCE
All in all, “it’s about the experience,” said Nariese. There are many places where you can eat pasta, pizza, etc but “it feels different if you eat them here. That’s a big part of it.”
Because here, added Chippy, no one will swear at you, you won’t feel ostracized, there’s no prejudice, and it’s safe. Meaning, “you’d enjoy your food while enjoying people’s company,” she said. – WITH MICHAEL DAVID dela Cruz TAN