Business

Talks about Mommy Ginger’s business tips and advice for momtrepreneurs. She shares valuable knowledge on topics like branding, marketing and consumer insight.

I think it’s unfair that I only get to interview women entrepreneurs in my blog, so I have decided that for the SME Interviews section, I will start interviewing and featuring stories of men, as well. Today’s interviewee is Albert Salvador. He is the General Manager of Sarap Mag Biyahe (SMB) Travel and Tours. He has been married for 3 years now but they have been together for more than a decade because they are childhood sweethearts. He is a father of two sweet and lovable kids.
Albert Salvador and Family

He used to work at a pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim, as a Product Manager. Four years ago, he put up my own travel agency while working full time. A year after, he decided to be a hands-on entrepreneur because he has seen the huge potential of the business. “I am glad that I made the right choice because now I can spend more time with my family,” says Albert.

Albert Salvador and Wife 2

Albert Salvador and Wife

“My wife and I really love to travel, the ultimate reason why we ventured into the travel industry. We also enjoy bringing our kids with us whenever we explore different places. At the same time, we gain more knowledge about a certain destination, which is very beneficial to our business,” adds Albert.

One of his goals in life is to make traveling affordable to almost everyone so that Filipinos can experience the joy of traveling. They would also like to promote Philippine culture, that’s why they make it a point to visit different places in the country to familiarize themselves with different traditions and to immerse themselves with our culture so they can offer nice tour packages to their clients. “Recently, I have started mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs to put up their own travel agency, it’s our way of giving back and help aspiring entrepreneurs jumpstart their own business” says Albert.

Interview with General Manager of Sarap Mag Biyahe or SMB Travels and Tours, Albert Salvador

Ginger: Hi Albert! Do you know that this is the first time I’m interviewing a gentleman? All of the people I have interviewed are ladies, so I’m really excited to hear your story! So first of all, can you tell us more about your brand/business?

Albert: Our travel agency offers both local and Asian packages which include hotel accommodation, air and land transfers as well as sightseeing tours. We have been in the business for four (4) years already. We also offer seminars and trainings on “how to put up your own travel agency” for aspiring travel entrepreneurs.

Ginger: That’s great, Albert! You may want to offer those trainings in ManilaWorkshops.com, too! Just let me know. But I’m curious about how you came up with this idea. Can you tell me more about it, please?

Albert: My wife and I are very much into traveling. Before we started this business, both of us are working full time. My wife used to work at the Philippine Senate while I was busy working in a multinational company. At some point, we realized we needed to take control of our decisions and find our own work/life balance because we do not want to spend the rest of our lives working for anyone else. Another motivating factor is the fact that we are starting a family and our earnings as employees may not be sufficient to support their education and daily needs given the inflation rate and other economic factors. That’s the time when we decided to invest a portion of our savings on starting a business. Before we knew it, we have turned our passion, traveling, into a profitable venture.

Ginger: Who is your market and why did you choose this market?

Albert: We cater to both the young professionals and budget travelers. We believe that traveling is not just for the rich and retirees. Everyone, whether be it a student or an ordinary employee, has the right to enjoy life and to take a breather once in a while.

Ginger: Albert, what are ways that you can do to raise capital for those who want or are interested to start a business?

Albert: For me, Teaching / sharing my knowledge is our best way to raise capital / investments. Currently, we have helped a total of 200 new travel agencies in starting their own business.

Ginger: How do you market your products?

Albert: I market my services through social media like Facebook and Instagram. We also make it a point to keep our clients in the loop about promos, etc through email or SMS.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Albert: We use the latest ticketing systems from INDIA capable of booking both domestic and international airlines. We also invest of specialized systems like AMADEUS E-POWER which makes our booking a lot easier.

Ginger: Seems like you have got all your bases covered, but were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Albert: There’s always a risk in running your own business and we have prepared ourselves for failure and challenges because it’s a game of probability. There’s a 50-50 chance of either failing or succeeding. Just like any budding entrepreneurs, we have encountered challenges and stumbling blocks along the way. Some of these obstacles were hiring the wrong person, committing errors in booking, giving credit lines, among others.

Sarap Mag Biyahe Package

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur should have when starting their own business?

Albert: a. He/she must be emotionally prepared (one should be good in managing risks); b. Focus and diligence and c. Innovative mind (competition is tough that’s why we need to constantly innovate and offer something new to our clients so that we won’t be left behind) d. Hard working (we usually cater inquiries until 1:00am)

Ginger: Any unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur?

Albert: The most important lesson I’ve learned is that failures are part of the business operation because that’s how you will learn and gain more knowledge. What you have to do is to not commit the same mistakes again. Therefore, you have to avoid the things that will pull you down. Like for instance, I made the mistake of trusting too much. A high school classmate booked their tickets and land arrangements with us. Since I know the person, I allowed her to settle the payment after the booking has been made. To make it short, I spent more than Php100,000 for their booking and I did not get any payment from them. She cut her ties with us and her parents flew to the States already. Trust is really important in the business but be extra cautious in dealing with other people. Make sure to put your policies in place.

Albert of Sarap Mag Biyahe Travels and Tours

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Albert: Engage with your customers, get feedbacks from your clients, get the right people, be adaptable to change, continuous learning is very important (because we Filipinos were not raised as entrepreneurs so I always read books to supplement my knowledge), do not spend beyond your means (eg. investing too much on a fancy office is not necessary in a start-up phase); take risks and do you best to overcome obstacles.

Ginger: For my last question, Albert, do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Albert: I believe everyone should be self-employed either as business owners or consultants in their respective fields. I believe you’re missing a lot of opportunities if you’re confined in a box.

Ginger: Thank you very much, Albert! I wish you more success in your business. For those who want to travel and who want to see the many gorgeous places in the Philippines, check out Sarap Mag Biyahe Travels and Tours contact details below.
Sarap Mag Biyahe Contact Information
Website: sarapmagbiyahe.com / smbtravel.com.ph (soon)
Email address: sarapmagbiyahe@hotmail.com
Mobile Number: 0999-9981535
Facebook Page: smbtravel
Instagram acount: @smbtravel

 

Good morning! Today is the first day of my Love the Leap Entrepreneurship Program and I am excited to meet these people who will, I know, be successful entrepreneurs in the future! It’s nice to see that there are a lot of young entrepreneurs who are going into business. What I like about these young people is that they have a lot of great, new and fresh ideas.

In this interview today, this young lass experienced how it was in the corporate world, but early on realized that she wanted to start her own business. Here is the story of Sheryl Kiong, the Proprietor of Curtsy.

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I’m Sheryl, 25, graduated from De La Salle, College of Saint Benilde AB Production Design. After graduation, I took short courses in the Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP) then worked in the corporate world the following year. After leaving the corporate life, I started to build Curtsy. I started by making baby headbands, but then eventually, I created ladies apparel. I hope to make it a lifestyle brand in the future. Every year, before the school starts, a portion of my sales buys school supplies for the the children in Payatas. This is my way in giving back and a reminder that I am blessed that I was able to study in a good school and now I’m chasing my own dreams.

Interview with Sheryl Kiong of Curtsy

Ginger: Good morning, Sheryl! Can you tell me more about what your brand is, what is it about and how long have you been in business?

Sheryl: Curtsy is a phonological change from “courtesy” which means a gesture marked by polished manners. Inspired by whimsical-romantic aesthetics with a strong influence of Japanese and Korean fashion. It is an online boutique that tells a contemporary fairytale. It caters to modern girls who are naturally feminine and confident yet retains a delicate innocence. Fresh and classic styles that symbolizes a romantic and playful world where anything is possible.

The business started on July 2013 selling handmade baby headbands and made to order hair accessories then eventually evolved to clothing for ladies. Our merchandise are personally hand picked by me through various suppliers around the world.

Curtsy Denim

Ginger: Thank you for this information, Sheryl! And really, that’s true. Sometimes, we start a business as something and then we eventually evolve and change it into something else, and I think this is a pretty normal occurrence. So with these new products, who is your market and why did you choose this market?

Sheryl: My market is from 16-35 years old who loves classic and trendy fashion. Since I have a wide range of selection of apparel and novelties. This age bracket starts from self explorations and discovery of their style reference.

Ginger: How do you market your products?
Sheryl: E-commerce needs good photos to attract customer visually.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Sheryl: It’s my dream to have my own clothing line. Just like any other girls, I love to shop. I have my spurge and save moments when it comes to shopping but most of the time I’m on the “save” side. That’s why Curtsy serves premium quality clothes at an afforable price.

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Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?
Sheryl: Yes of course. After working for corporate companies, I decided to venture my own business. Since I’m just a newbie, I was very overwhelmed with everything that I forgot to focus. I did a lot of trial and error and the true identity of Curtsy as a brand starts to grow.

Curtsy Pink Dress

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur should have when starting their own business?
Sheryl: Hardworking, Positive and Focus.

Ginger: Any unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur?
Sheryl: Everyday is a new learning experiece for me because I get to experience the entire process. From branding to marketing to finance and so on. And of course the people you meet along the way in this business.

Curtsy Skirt

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?
Sheryl: Everything is possible but it depends on the person if he/she wants to be a team leader or just a role player.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other young Entrepreneurs?
Sheryl: Don’t lose hope when you feel like it’s not working out. Everything has its own perfect timing. Be open minded about other people’s advice and other entrepreneurs successful and downfall stories. Most of all, never stop yourself from learning.

Ginger: Thank you so much for your time, Sheryl! 🙂 For those who want to check out the products of Curtsy, the contact details are indicated below!

Curtsy Contact Information:
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/curtsyph
Email address: curtsy.hq@gmail.com
Mobile Number: +639273475511
Twitter account: @curtsyprgirl
Instagram acount: @curtsyprgirl

The buzz word nowadays is Entrepreneurship. It seems like everyone is going that route. Everyone wants to get into it. Everyone’s starting their own businesses. Every one wants to be called an Entrepreneur.

I’ve thought about why people should try to “enter entrepreneurship” and here are some of the reasons why:

1) Control your one time — control your own life!
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you will have less work. In fact, during the first year of business, you might be the busiest that you’ll ever be. But the nice thing about being an entrepreneur is that you actually have more control over your time. You can move schedules around. This is what I actually love about my life now. If I don’t feel like working, I don’t get up. I just see to it though, that I accomplish things and that I always see results.

2) Unlimited Opportunities to Earn and to Learn
I used to think (especially when I was about to resign from my job) that I would be a bored individual, just going through the daily grind of creating workshops and writing for my blog and other entities. I used to think that I wouldn’t be able to meet a lot of people as the way I did when I was employed. I’m a people person so I love going out and conversing with others. But when I became an entrepreneur, I got to widen my network four-fold. Almost every day, I get to meet a new person, in person or virtually. I receive at least two to three emails from people I don’t know every day. If you multiply that, that’s at least 1095 new people a year!

But what I genuinely love about meeting new people is that I get to learn new things! I see meetings as an opportunity to learn and to widen my knowledge about different things. Being an entrepreneur allowed me to go out there and look for new acquaintances and learn more new stuff!

3) Allow you to do the things that you want so you can leave a Legacy!

I don’t know if you saw this episode for GTV: Love the Leap recently.

I talked about leaving a legacy, which I realized after reading Stephen Covey’s 8th habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. I honestly believe that all of us are meant for greatness. When we pass away, I’m sure that each one of us want to be remembered for something — a loving mom, a great educator, an admirable social entrepreneur, but all of these things stem from the fact that we had a goal of making the world a better place and we helped by using our talents. Everyday, we help make the world a better place the best we know how. Being an entrepreneur makes you think about this every day. With the business that I have, how can I add value?

These three things are just a few reasons why I think people should try to enter entrepreneurship. For those who are already entrepreneurs, they know that there are a lot of things that you need to learn in order to sustain the business that you have. For skills and things that you don’t know about, it’s good to know at least the basics so that even if you decide to outsource in the end, you still have a good understanding on how things work.

With this, Burn Gutierrez and I decided to come up with a Webinar Series called Enter Entrepreneurship with topics that we know you would love to learn about!

Enter Entrepreneurship

Enter Entrepreneurship

This webinar series is composed of 10 topics:

Understanding WordPress – July 18, 2015 with Jerome Esperanza
Basics of Photoshop – July 25, 2015 with Amanda De Ocampo
Setting up an Online Store – August 1, 2015 with Fitz Villafuerte
Product Shots with a Purpose – August 8, 2015 with Shiela Catilo
Basics of Shooting a Video – August 15, 2015 with Dennis Abad
Basics of Video Editing – August 22, 2015 with Jeo Paz
Facebook Marketing – August 29, 2015 with Peter Juan
Digital Marketing – Sept. 5, 2015 with Ros Juan
Content Planning – Sept. 12, 2015 with Rey Baguio
Blog and Creative Writing – Sept. 19, 2015 with Martine De Luna

The cost of all the 10 workshops is at Php 10,000, but if you opt to choose just some, each session is at Php 1999. If you avail of the 10 sessions, you will get access to my Love the Leap Checklist and a free 11th session on Productivity and Management from Sonny Del Rosario.

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I really hope that you could sign up for this very beneficial webinar series! You can sign up by clicking on this link:

http://manilaworkshops.com/events/enter-entrepreneurship

For those who want to know more about our speakers, here are their profiles!

Amanda De Ocampo

Dennis Abad Fitz Villafuerte Jeo Paz Jerome Esperanza Martine De Luna Rey Baguio Sheila Catilo Sonny Del Rosario

Sign up now at http://manilaworkshops.com/events/enter-entrepreneurship

In a business environment, having competition is healthy. I am all for it, not only as a consumer, but as a seller, too! I just think that having competition keeps you motivated to innovate and strive for the best. Competition is vital in any thriving economy because it promotes the entrepreneurial spirit, encourages private investments, facilitates technology development, and enhances productivity. It also hampers you from taking advantage of the market. There is this great temptation to do so if you are the only one giving that type of product or service.

Meeting with Sen. Bam Aquino

I met Sen. Bam Aquino recently and this is one of the bills that I was impressed to hear about.

 

PhCompetitionAct

After three decades of waiting and 30 hours of bicameral conference hearing, Congress has finally ratified the Philippine Competition Act that penalizes bad market behavior and abuse of dominant positions. The Philippine Competition Act seeks to ensure that there will be fair competition among the market players in the economy. The law prohibits anti-competitive agreements, cartels, abuses of dominant positions, and mergers & acquisitions that prevent, limit, and restrict competition. This act seeks to achieve an efficient market economy and a level playing field for market players regardless of size and location.

“If enacted into law, the measure will create a level playing field, whether big or small, when it comes to market opportunities,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship. For almost thirty years, the Philippines has remained one of few countries that does not have a valid competition policy that will protect its consumers and private industries. What goes with liberalization of our industry is a law to ensure that our market is efficiently working. This landmark measure pushes for an economy that is governed by clear rules of engagement between market players and their quest for their share in the market. This is a commitment of the Philippines in various trade organizations and this measures is seen to be the catalyst for a healthier trade, industry, and business as we compete in the bigger global market.

PHCompetition_TV
“It has been one of the longest running bills in our history,” Sen. Bam said, as the first competition policy was filed in the 8th Congress. After World War II, Japan passed its Original Antimonopoly Law in 1947 while the United Kingdom passed its Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Act in 1948.Other ASEAN countries have also passed their respective competition laws, starting with Indonesia and Thailand in 1999, Singapore in 2004, Vietnam in 2005, and Malaysia in 2012.

“This is primary a huge victory for millions of consumers, who, in the end, will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this measure,” added Sen. Bam, whose Senate Bill No. 1027 or the Philippine Competition Act was among the measures consolidated under Senate Bill No. 2282.
PHCompetition_Cellphone

President Aquino is expected to sign the measure into law as it is one of his administration’s urgent measures.

Sen. Bam said the Philippine Competition Act is expected to eliminate cartels, and penalize anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant players in the markets that lead to high prices of goods and services. “In addition, the Philippine Competition Act promotes a culture of healthy competition that inspires ingenuity, creativity, and innovation in addressing market needs,” Sen. Bam said.

“We need more players in our markets, so that the quality of products and services increases, and prices of goods would then go down,” Sen. Bam added. The measure will also prohibit anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant position that distort, manipulate, or constrict the operations of markets in the Philippines.

“We thank the hard work of our fellow senators and our congress counterparts in coming up with a solid bill that will further help our economy down the road,” Sen. Bam emphasized.

Sen. Bam also credited the late Rep. Henry Cojuangco for actively pursuing the bill’s House version. Cojuangco died from aneurysm, hours before the bill hurdled the second reading at the House of Representatives last May 12.

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“Panalo ang taumbayan dahil sa pagpasa ng panukalang ito,” the senator highlighted.

“We would like to tell the world that with the Philippine Competition Act, our country is now open for business,” Sen. Bam happily declared.

PHCompetition_Airline
Some other Frequently Asked Questions:

Does this law disallow and dismantle monopolies?
No, this law does not prohibit the existence of monopolies. If a business is big because it employed an efficient, innovative, excellent customer service/goods, and competitive business practice, then they can keep their dominance. This law only looks at the behavior of market players that unduly prevent, restrict and lessen competition.

By allowing State intervention as to the conducting of business, will this law hinder the free trade?
No. In fact, the law protects free and fair trade by deterring unscrupulous entities that seek to unfairly dominate and manipulate the market. This measure, in fact, creates an environment where market players are protected with clear rules so they can compete in the market regardless of their size, location and duration of stay in the market. In effect, the measure protects new entrants and businesses, which are playing a fair game in the market.

Which entities does the said law cover?
This law is enforceable against any person or entity engaged in trade or business in the Philippines. It also applies to international trade that have direct and substantial effects in the Philippines.

Are there any exceptions to such coverage?
No industry is exempted from the application of this measure.

Who will implement the provisions of this law? Or will this be another unimplemented piece of legislation?
A quasi-judicial body will be created to fully implement this measure. The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is established to look into anticompetitive behaviors, abuses in dominant positions, and anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.

Who will compose the Philippine Competition Commission?
The PCC shall be composed of a Chairperson and 4 Commissioners, as well as an Executive Director and other personnel to be determined by the Commission.

What are the powers of the Philippine Competition Commission?
The PCC shall have the power to implement the provisions of this law, such as conducting investigations on any violations of the law, reviewing mergers and acquisitions, applying preventive and punitive measures against violators of the law after due notice and hearing, inspecting business premises upon order of the court, issuing subpoenas and citing persons in contempt, issuing adjustment or divestiture orders, and conducting, publishing, and disseminating studies and reports on matters relating to fair competition, among many others.

Who will prosecute criminal offenses under this law?
The DOJ-OFC (Department of Justice– Office for Competition) is responsible as to the conduct of preliminary investigations and prosecution of all criminal offenses under this law. The PCC and the DOJ-OFC will work closely together to ensure that no anti-competitive act is unpunished. What acts are prohibited under this law? There are 3 things that are prohibited under this Act: Anti-competitive Agreements, Abuses in Dominant Position and Anticompetitive Mergers and Acquisitions.

When is an agreement deemed to be anti-competitive?
For agreements between and among competitors that restrict competition as to price manipulation and bid rigging are per se prohibited and are considered criminal under this Act. Other agreements that prevent, restrict, and lessen competition are assessed based on its object or effect in the market before it can be considered as anti-competitive.

When is there an abuse of dominant position?
For entities who are dominant in a relevant market, such behaviors that prevent, restrict and lessen competition are considered anti-competitive: selling goods and services below cost, imposing barriers to entry, making the sale of goods dependent on other goods or services which are totally unrelated, making prices discriminatory to the distributor and the consumers, directly or indirectly imposing conditions to a sale, and limiting production to increase prices in the market.

Are we punishing big businesses?
No. Having a dominant position in a relevant market through legitimate means that do not substantially prevent or lessen competition is not prohibited. Any conduct that contributes to the improvement of production and technical development and is beneficial to consumers may not necessarily be an abuse of dominant position.

Are all mergers and acquisitions considered anti-competitive?
No. Mergers and acquisitions that do not prevent, restrict or lessen competition are still allowed in the current measure. However, mergers and acquisitions that hit the notification threshold will be asked to notify the Commission before their transaction is consummated. This is to ensure that the impact of such merger or acquisition is not detrimental to the market.

What are the examples of allowed mergers and acquisitions?
Mergers and acquisition that has brought about or is likely to bring about efficiency is allowed. Also, parties to a merger or acquisition faced with actual or imminent financial failure are also allowed. In addition, an entity is allowed to continue owning and holding stock or other share capital or assets of another corporation which it acquired prior to the approval of the law.

What are the fines and penalties to be imposed on violators of the law?
For anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position, an administrative penalty, determined after due notice and hearing, reaches up to a hundred million pesos for the first offense, while a fine of not less than a hundred million pesos but not more than two hundred fifty million pesos is imposed for the second offense.

For anti-competitive agreements done between and among competitors, violators will face imprisonment from two (2) to seven (7) years, and a fine of not less than fifty million pesos but not more than two hundred fifty million pesos. The penalty of imprisonment shall be imposed upon responsible officers and directors of the entity.

But will important trade secrets of businesses be protected under this law?
Yes. Confidential business information in relation to any inquiry or investigation conducted pursuant to this law shall not be directly or indirectly disclosed, published, or disseminated. However, this confidentiality rule shall not apply when the entity consents to the disclosure or the business information is mandatorily required to be disclosed by law or by a valid order of a court or government agency.

What are the mechanisms in place to ensure the efficient implementation of this measure?
As we learned from the experiences of other nations, cartels and other anti-competitive behaviors are really hard to prosecute. They work in the most innocuous ways that normally go undetected by the naked eye.

As a global best practice, the law calls for the development of a Leniency Program to be granted to any entity in the form of immunity from suit or reduction of any fine in exchange for the voluntary disclosure of information, which would help in the prosecution of cases under this law. This has been proven to work in other jurisdiction like in UK and US.

When should the cases be filed under this law?
Any action arising from a violation of this law should be commenced within five (5) years from the discovery of the violation, as to criminal actions, and from the time the cause of action accrues, as to administrative and civil actions. Is there still time for entities to renegotiate agreements and restructure their businesses so as not to violate the law? Administrative, civil, and criminal penalties shall be imposed on violators of the law only upon the expiration of two (2) years after the effectivity of the law. This rule, however, will not apply as to administrative, civil, or criminal proceedings initiated before the entry into force of this law.

I love the Philippine Competition Act. Let’s help Sen. Bam Aquino spread the word about this! Please use #PHCompetitionAct 🙂

People ask me if this section where I interview entrepreneurs and SMEs are solely for moms. Of course not, guys! 🙂 Today, I’m featuring a young lass who’s single and 28 years old. Last week, I featured Ava Diaz Daza, also very young and still single. So, to answer your question, I am very much open to featuring entrepreneurs of all ages, marital status and gender! And today, I am very excited because my young entrepreneur’s business is all about making cookies, and I love love love cookies!

Entrepreneur Ivorie of Cookie Bar

Entrepreneur Ivorie of Cookie Bar

Ivorie Acosta of Cookie Bar is a 28 year old cookie lover. She loves eating, cooking and food styling! She is single but she has been together with her supportive boyfriend for 6 years already. “He’s the one who helped me with the business and he handles the finance side of Cookie Bar,” says Ivorie. This lady is a pretty laid back person. She likes staying home on weekends and she likes trying out new restaurants. She also has this love affair with New York City. Sge goes there every other year since 2009 and she says that it’s a small cookie shop named “Levain Bakery” that inspired her to do my business here in Manila.

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The Interview with Ivorie Acosta of Cookie Bar

Ginger: Good day! I’m with Ivorie Acosta, the owner of Cookie Bar. Ivorie, can you please tell me more about your business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Ivorie: Cookie Bar is a home based cookie shop since 2009. We specialize on making cookies in different shapes, sizes and textures. We take pride in creating a product list that is only centered on cookies. I started Cookie Bar as a sideline business while I was still a teaching preschool during the day. My main clientele were friends, family and co-teachers. As Cookie Bar gained popularity through word of mouth and social media, the business expanded and now Cookie Bar has it’s own kitchen/commissary where people can pick up cookies or choose from the variety of cookies available daily.

Ginger: Who is your market and why did you choose this market?
Ivorie: My market are young teens and young adults who love sweets! Some of our cookies are pretty rich and filled with different chocolates that’s why some older clients might not enjoy it. We try to make sure that cookie lovers of all ages get to enjoy our cookies so we make different kinds to tap that specific market. We have cookies for Vegans, for Diabetics, for people who like oatmeal, for people who like crunchy cookies or soft batch. Cookies are so simple and quick to make but each tweak in every recipe can make a huge difference is taste and texture.

Ginger: How do you market your products?
Ivorie: The internet is the best way to market your products. Everyone has smart phones and laptops so you have to be present in all the social media platforms. Constant posting of photos and reaching out to your customers is one way to get your products out there!

Cookie Bar

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? And what made you decide to start this kind of business?
Ivorie: I went on a trip to New York City in 2009 to visit my Mom where she was based. I was really amazed with all the restaurants and bakeries in Manhattan. It’s all filled with wonderful pastries and people just come in and out of these small shops holding some sort pastry. I also noticed how cookies were such a big thing there like cupcakes. One certain bake shop caught my attention because they were known for their COOKIES! Levain Bakery is on the upper west side of Manhattan. It’s a small shop, with no dine-in area, just take out counter for cookies, breads and coffee. I really wanted to replicate their big crusty on the outside and soft on the inside cookies back home. I went back home to Manila, with so much inspiration and an idea of making cookies the next big thing.

Cookie Bar 2

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?
Ivorie: One of the obstacles I faced was deciding to quit my job as a preschool teacher and do Cookie Bar full time. I knew the business won’t be able to grow as quickly as I wanted it if my mind and body wasn’t 100% in it. I had to weigh the pros and cons of staying and leaving my job and eventually I had to decide on choosing to do Cookie Bar full time. It was nerve wracking not knowing If the business will really take off but now that I look back, it made me realize that it was one of the best decisions I made in my life.

Another obstacle I encountered is not knowing how to start registering the business. It was numerous trips to the city hall, BIR and other government offices. There are forms and requirements to be submitted. I did not hire anyone to do the leg work for me. I decided that I had to do it myself to get things done quickly and at the same time, I can learn it for future business endeavors. It really was a learning experience for me.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur should have when starting their own business?
Ivorie: Passion – Without this, the business will have no heart. It will have no personality. I think customers can tell if a business is run by remote control rather than a hands on owner who has so much love to his/her products. Patience – It won’t be successful overnight. Your product won’t sell instantly. You also cannot just wait for it to sell. You have to get up and work. Drive – Ask yourself what drives you to do this every single day. Is it for your future, to help others (like your employees), is it to help your family? Every person has a different reason why he or she will start a business but if you focus on a certain goal and why you are doing this, you won’t get confused and get disappointed with problems that come your way.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur?
Ivorie: Listen to your customers. They are the ones who can tell you if a product is good or not. If something you like isn’t really selling then there must be something wrong with it. It hard to get criticized but just realize that it’s not a blow on you as a person, it’s the product. I was creating a recipe for a certain event last year, I was so excited to launch it because it took me so many test batches to get it right according to my taste preference. In the end, my clients didn’t order this type of cookie. It wasn’t too appealing to them and I had to scratch if off the menu.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?
Ivorie: Never stop learning. In 2011, I took a cake and bread baking class in The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City just to give myself more knowledge about the basics of baking. I never really had formal baking training so this was really important for me to learn. Always push yourself to become better and always know that there is room for improvement. If you’re not good with numbers or accounting, there’s a class for that too! That’s my next goal. 😀

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?
Ivorie: No, not everyone is cutout to do business. It’s something you have to be mentally prepared for. Your business becomes your life. You cannot just run away from problems that come your way or even give someone a task only you can handle. If you are the type of person who can accept failure and its inevitability in life, then you can be an entrepeneur.

Ginger: Thank you so much, Ivorie for such inspiring words from such a young entrepreneur. I hope you can share this inspiring article with other aspiring, young entrepreneurs!

PS. For those who want to order cookies from Cookie Bar, here are their contact information:
www.ILOVECOOKIES.NET
Email address: cookiebarmanila@gmail.com
Mobile Number: 09175551228 or 09065696019
Facebook Page: www.fb.com/CookieBarManila
Twitter account – @cookiebarmanila / @ivorie_a
Instagram acount – @cookiebarmanila / @ivorie_a

PPS. For those who want to start their own business and start early, feel free to join my Love the Leap sessions this July! Sign up here: LOVE THE LEAP ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM