• Running a Small Business Is Tough: 7 Mompreneurs Share Their Biggest Lessons

    With a small business, you need a plan "but it doesn’t have to be detailed and perfect.”
    by Din Real Bautista .
Running a Small Business Is Tough: 7 Mompreneurs Share Their Biggest Lessons
  • The rise of technology and the influence of social media has brought a lot of opportunities for people to pursue hobbies, reach dreams, and earn money without actually going to an office. That's good news for parents who want more flexibility when it comes to how much time they can spend with the family. 

    We spoke with seven mompreneurs about their journey from quitting the corporate job to become a full-time entrepreneur. We can all learn a thing or two from them and might help us jumpstart our own.

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    Minnie Jumaquio (center) with husband Jason and daughter Nina Ray

    Minnie Jumaquio, owner of Snug-a-Hug and WallabyMommy

    “You can build a business entirely out of a 'good reputation' if you are as good as your word and couple it with good work ethics.”

    Minnie and her husband Jason were both working in advertising when they felt that being in the same industry was not a good option for the family. So, in 2002, she became a stay-at-home mom and did raket on the side.

    But Minnie found herself struggling and feeling lonely. She was at a low point in her life when she told herself, "I just need a decent sleep." One day, she saw a pillow on television, and she wanted to buy it instantly. But the price was around Php4000 plus shipping from the U.S. 

    Minnie's crafty side was awakened. She got a Manila paper, created patterns, got fabrics and sewed the first prototype of Snug-a-Hug. 

    “I was awakened, not just from my sleep but from my depression. I realized the potential because the pillow I designed was unique and had a purpose. It was specific to help pregnant women achieve comfortable sleep and more.”

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    “Be true to your word.”

    Snug-a-Hug was primarily created to aid sleeping problems, like stiff necks, correct sleeping positions, and the like. Then it was also marketed as a helpful tool for expecting and nursing mothers. 

    Minnie, who started with a capital of Php20,000, all the earnings from her sideline works and projects, said, “At the time when we were starting, nobody was aware what a maternity pillow was; maybe only a few knew about it. So it was really crucial to be very hands-on in explaining the benefits of our product. The good thing was because the market was technically untouched, it was the right time to introduce the product, which unique and effective. That’s why it became a hit.”

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    Ma. Katrina Alcantara with husband Mark Joseph and daughter Milly Antonette

    Ma. Katrina Alcantara, owner of Mom and Milly

    “Do not be afraid to take risks and take that leap of faith.” 

    Katrina and her husband Mark Joseph initially couldn't afford to quit their jobs — their combined income was small, to begin with. But her will to take care and homeschool her daughter pushed her to start an online business called Mom and Milly, an online store that sells wooden and educational toys for toddlers. She knew there were many wooden toys available but most were expensive, so she made it Mom and Milly's goal to find toys that are acceptable and affordable for parents. 

    She started with a capital of Php5,000, the only savings she and Mark Anthony had before they both decided to focus entirely on growing their business. Their complete trust in each other and their business venture made it possible to survive in the industry like when their trusted courier closed down during the busiest time of the year, December 2014.

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    “Find your passion. So you can proudly say this brand is not just about what I am selling, but it represents the people that inspire me.”

    Too many customers were understandably frustrated with all the delays since most of the orders were Christmas gifts. “As a parent, I knew how they felt, and I was so desperate to resolve the issue in the quickest possible time. I had to borrow money to refund every single frustrated customer down to every centavo they paid us. It was only Php30, 000, but for a business that was just starting, it was a blow we had to endure. I thought to myself as soon as the business grew, I was getting riders to deliver the items.”

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    Joy Astilla with husband Mark and their children Enzo, Stella, Marko, and Javi

    Joy Astilla, owner of Urban Essentials

    “Think hard and plan carefully. Don’t just imitate others.” 

    Throughout the years she was employed in the corporate world, Joy was always on the lookout for ideas to put up as a business of her own. She felt she was born to be an entrepreneur. After a call center job, she focused on growing a food business and selling bags at the same time. But, just like any other businesses, some flourished, others do not. 

    “It’s actually one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur — to accept the fact that this business isn’t working, and you have to stop and start from scratch.” 

    Joy was dealing with a lot of financial stress while pregnant with her third child when she discovered her “saving grace.” 

    “I learned about Wink Shapewear, which is the foundation of Urban Essentials. I just took my chance, emailed the company, and they were crazy enough to grant me the distributorship.”

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    “If you believe in your idea so much, go for it and don’t let others’ negative opinion bring down your vision.”

    Joy had so much faith in Wink because she used it. But when she surveyed a few friends if they would buy a binder, a lot said no. But it didn’t stop her from pursuing  Wink. Based on her experience with the product after giving birth via Cesarean section, she knew it would be a big hit.

    Joy said, “I spent around Php100, 000 to start Urban Essentials. But the efforts that I put into building the brand was even bigger. In the beginning, I would only sell one Wink a week, and I would be thrilled! Every time a person followed our Facebook page, I would celebrate! It was slow progress because no one knew about Wink yet. There was a bazaar when I was not able to sell anything in one day! Pagod na pagod ako sa kakaalok at kaka- explain, and they would tell me, 'I’ll look around first.'”

    The product, however, spoke for itself. Almost every mom who bought had only kind words to say, and soon celebrities were even raving about it.

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    Tintin Bagui with husband Duaci and their kids Drei, Drin, and Drew

    Tintin Rosales Bagui, owner of Ice Ice Baby

    “Just do it. It is true that you have to have a plan, a blueprint. But it doesn’t have to be detailed and perfect.” 

    Tintin quit her corporate job as a bank officer after the neverending challenge of finding household help. She also felt she needed to be home during her sons' formative years. At the time, she just had her third son, her eldest started going to school and the second son just turned a year old. 

    When Tintin decided to put up a home-based business, she thought about her sweet tooth and the fact too much of it can be a bad thing. She ended up selling healthy snacks and desserts. “Most are cold snacks including soaked oats, chilled taho, and iced cereals. People like healthy snack options but most wouldn’t want to or simply cannot give up desserts.”

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    “Either you finally find the business that will make your dreams come true, or you gain experience and learn. So, there is really nothing to lose.”

    Ice Ice Baby was born with a capital of Php120,000 that includes two- month rental deposit and one-month rental advance, plus ingredients and supplies. By the fourth month, however, Tintin already saw a return of investment, and Ice Ice Baby was making noise all over Batangas City.

    The most significant challenge was starting everything from scratch. “For 10 years, I spoke to corporate people; if it were music, it is like switching from one genre to another. I had to learn everything from scratch — permits, procurement, inventory management. It is totally different when you are doing your own business. And, of course, the people you encounter in this kind of business are way vast compared to my client base in the bank.” 

    Tintin’s message to moms and dads or anyone who wants to start their own business, “You wouldn’t know unless you try. The biggest multinationals did not expect that they will be that big when they started. A plan is important, but the execution makes things happen.”

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    Kristine Marasigan with husband Jed and their kids Lucas and Lucia

    Khristine Anne Marasigan, owner of Lucas and Lucia

    “Stay respectful and be straight with your customers who have unrealistic requests.”

    Khristine was pregnant with baby number 2 when she decided she couldn't take the stress anymore of being a department manager of a big mall and the three hours of commute to and from the office. There were no plans of putting up a business until she found out she was having a baby girl.

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    The excitement of having a daughter led Khristine to make headbands and ribbons for her new bundle of joy. After giving birth, she made more and some of her friends, both online and offline, started ordering. It gave birth to her online store, Lucas, and Lucia.

    “Susubukin talaga ang pasensya mo.”

    Khristine started with Php1,000 to buy ribbons and fasteners, which she earned back after four days. She was worried, however, if she could keep up the interest because she wasn't good at marketing. She didn't have to worry — her online mommy friends kept reposting her items on Facebook and Instagram. Customers also posted what they bought from her. Word of mouth from social media made sure she would continue Lucas and Lucia. “It is still not that big, but it helps us pay our bills.”

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    Vanessa Dadufalza with husband Dr. JP and their daughter Vikka

    Vanessa Joy Dadufalza, owner of Faith, Hope, and Love

    “Avoid exaggerated product claims.

    Circumstances forced Vanessa to resign from her job as a medical technologist. Her father was critically ill because of cancer, she just gave birth to her daughter, and there were plans to relocate to the province. 

    Vanessa found it challenging to stay at home without any income. She had always earned her own money and supported herself for more than a decade. So she started selling beauty soaps, and along the way, she met a heaven-sent and skilled formulator who specializes in natural/organic skincare products and cosmetics.

    “Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to try.”

    Her daughter has eczema-prone sensitive skin, and Vanessa tried every hypoallergenic and even dermatologist-prescribed soaps and creams available in the market. Nothing suited her, so Vanessa decided to make one for Faith, Hope, and Love. She eventually branched out to include personal care products for moms. 

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    “As an exclusively breastfeeding mom, I want to take care of myself too without compromising my baby's health for possible side effects of using beauty products with harmful chemicals. So we offered organic/natural, paraben-free, locally made soaps, deodorant, face mist, toners, lip and cheek tints that are safe for pregnant and nursing moms like me.”

    Vanessa started Faith, Hope, and Love with a capital of Php6,000 and a loan of Php 30,000. She saw a return on her investment after six to nine months, but it has been challenging. 

    She finds a lack of support from the government to encourage small entrepreneurs who are competing with beauty and skin products from abroad. But, like the other moms we spoke to for this story, business growth tends to take a back seat when her time with her husband and daughter is compromised. Vanessa always chooses her family so even if demand for products is high, she takes her time and makes sure nothing is taken for granted.

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    Jennifer Boringot with husband Lawrence and their daughters Zylie and Jazlynn

    Jennifer Boringot, owner of Zyji Shop

    “Never give up.”

    Jennifer was working in Singapore as a video editor when her husband proposed. "We were actually planning to go back there after we got married. But when I got pregnant with my eldest daughter, we decided to settle here and raise our family” said Jennifer. 

    It was a post of a mom talking about how to be a mompreneur that inspired her to try it out. She was a fan of the minimalist design, but she didn't see a lot of it in the market. So she put up Zyji Shop, which makes baby beddings, from stroller pads and fitted sheets for cribs to nursing wear that are “stylish, innovative, and affordable.”

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    “Have a mindset of no turning back. So you will do everything in your power to make it work.”

     

    She spent Php40, 000 to Php50, 000 as capital for materials, supplies, machine and labor costs. When she started to expand the operation, her husband quit his corporate job to help her manage the business. It was not a smooth journey at first. They had to contend with challenges like the permits and documents needed from the government. Finding the balance to juggle everything (time, energy, finances) is a continuous challenge, but they would not have it any other way.

    Din Real Bautista is a proud full-time homemaker. Most of the time, she’s busy raising a kind-hearted and strong human being named Monica with the help of the most amazing husband, Beejay. And the rest of her time, she’s making sure her life is better outside social media.

     

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