HAVING been confined to our homes for the last four months has certainly brought about a surfeit of free time for most of us. Even after having accomplished work tasks and house chores, binge-watched shows, and recreated our favorite restaurant dishes, each day still feels too long.
But for these young entrepreneurs, staying home has given them a chance to pursue and earn from their passions.
Whether you live for food or fashion, these two have something for everyone.
What prompted you to start your business?
Belle: During this quarantine, I finally had the time to do one of my favorite things—baking! I experimented on new recipes and tried to improve my old ones. From there, I started selling some of my products to friends and family. I then moved on to selling some products on Facebook food groups and luckily enough, it did well! I finally decided to start an Instagram store where I could sell all the things I love to make.
Isa: I ran out of reasons not to. Funny story: I’ve always had a love for fashion and clothes. When I discovered the Filipino online thrift community about three years ago, I instantly fell in love with it. I was astonished by the creativity and aesthetics of each online shop, which had its own personality and uniqueness. I fantasized about having my own shop one day, but never got to have it going because of my fear of flopping. I always had an excuse whether it be school, money, time etc. When the quarantine came along, I finally had absolutely no reason not to open it. My grandmother had just decluttered her closet (which was like finding a treasure chest of vintage clothing), and so I decided to give it a try. The more I uploaded, the more traction my little shop gained. Eventually, it turned into a full time business where I constantly have to restock, keep track of orders etc. That’s the birth of my shop!
Tell us more about your products and your bestsellers.
Belle: My bestseller is definitely the Basque Burnt Cheesecake. It comes in two sizes: Six inches and eight inches in diameter. It is my take on the famous burnt cheesecake from San Sebastian, Spain. It is the perfect mix of tart and sweet with a caramelized exterior and a rich creamy interior. The next bestseller are the palm-sized chocolate chunk cookies. You can order them in a box of four or a box of six. They’re crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside with some pockets of chocolate oozing out. I top them off with some salt to balance out the sweetness. The granola comes in two sizes: 250 grams and 500 grams. It is sweet, a bit salty and crunchy. I sweeten it with coconut sugar and agave. I wanted it to not be a typical granola so I added local dried fruits like dried mangoes and coconut chips. My kombucha comes in two flavors: Lemon Ginger and Berry Ginger.
Isa: I sell a huge variety of secondhand clothing from blouses to night gowns. My most popular items are my vintage jeans and corsets. I try to price as affordably as I can. My items are often below P500 and rarely go above P1,000. I upload new collections on a weekly basis. If you find something that you like, all you need to do is leave a comment on the post and then I’ll send you an order form to fill out. The items are sold on a “first-to-comment” basis.
What sets your products apart from all the others in the same category?
Belle: Its branding. I wanted something fun, quirky and different. I wanted a business that would share some fun, positivity and good products during this time of pandemic. Another thing is that I try to make the products as consistent as possible. I want to maintain the quality of each product and make sure I can provide the best for my customers.
Isa: All of my products are carefully handpicked. Some are reworked, curated and even redesigned. What makes my shop special is that the goal is not to sell or make money, but to educate and raise awareness on the detrimental effects of the fast fashion industry on the planet, and to promote sustainability.
What tips can you give online shoppers amid this pandemic?
Belle: I think the most important thing is to be kind to the people who help us out. We should take care of our delivery riders, suppliers, customers and all those who help our small businesses. And of course, be kind to yourself. It takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance to open and run a business.
Isa: For easier and safer transactions, my first tip would be to open online payment accounts. This makes shopping way more convenient, and it’s easy to keep track of your expenses too. My second tip would definitely be to communicate with the seller. What payment methods do they accept? Through which courier do they ship? What are the measurements of the product? Make sure to be informed before committing to buying something.
If we weren’t in this health crisis, how would you have spent the last four months?
Belle: I would probably be in Siargao helping out with my family’s businesses there.
Isa: I would probably still be selling clothes! But aside from that, I would have been traveling and preparing to enter college.