Rarely do I get teary eyed when I write an interview with an entrepreneur, but this story did it. I normally edit stuff and some words in an interview, but the words Catherine used in this interview was just perfect and very REAL. I didn’t want to touch anything. Catherine Sevilla – Magpayo is the owner of Memong’s Deli. Please do read her story.
I am Catherine Sevilla- Magpayo, teacher by profession, house wife (married for 6 years), mother and budding entrepreneur. I taught preschool for 9 years at St. Paul College, Pasig and Xavier School respectively. This experience trained me a lot about child rearing and helps me until now in handling my own kids. I have 2- Cadee (girl) is 5 years old and Andee (boy) is 3. My first love is baking because I grew up helping my grandmother (who is deaf-mute) bake cakes. She is the one who inspired and influenced me to pursue baking and cooking. Even when I was a child she would encourage me to attend cooking classes during summer breaks. Cooking is more practical to do and I can practice it every day by cooking dishes for my family that is the reason why I was lead to creating dishes for Memong’s Deli. Although my grandmother is one of the people who influenced me in cooking, Memong is my grandfather’s name.
I named the store after my grandfather (who is also deaf-mute) because his name is more unique, and I want to honor the both of them (grandparents) for being such a big influence in our lives (or at least in my life) even if they have physical disabilities.
I resigned from my teaching job after I gave birth to my first born. Technically, I am a full time mother and part-time entrepreneur. I’d rather build the business slowly and still be able to be there for the kids rather be a full time entrepreneur and not be hands on with my kids. As for my future plans, I definitely want this business to be sustainable so I can focus more in taking care of the family. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hire people with disabilities to work for Memong’s so I can show people that these people with disabilities have special needs but this doesn’t or will not stop them from living a full life. Someday, when opportunity knocks, maybe I can open a small café or restaurant deli. All these I offer to God who is the greatest provider. I couldn’t have done all this without consistently praying to Him.
Interview with Cathering of Memong’s Deli
Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? Memong’s Deli/ Memong’s Homemade Deli House
What is it about?
Catherine: Filipino Breakfast/ Filipino Comfort Food/ Homemade Deli (meaning no preservative, msg, extenders) such as longganisa (garlic, hamonado with garlic and hamonado), beef tapa, chicken tocino, bacon, gourmet tuyo
Ginger: How long have you been in business? Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?
Catherine: For a year now. Our target market are upper C and B classes, pretty much anyone who likes breakfast food, people who are conscious about what they eat, who wants lean longganisa, kids (especially picky eaters), mothers When I created the recipies we use in Memong’s Deli, I didn’t really choose the market. It’s more of I wanted to offer people food that they can eat outside of their home that is as delicious and yet tastes like home away from home. Upper C and B classes are the clientele that mostly dines in our store and buys our frozen food. They can afford it because the price of our food especially the frozen are a tad higher than the “kanto” tapsi places and the longganisa that can be bought in the wet market. The reason is that we offer quality food. Our longganisa is more of Filipino sausage (hotdog- like) rather than the fatty regular longganisa. The meat we use for the beef tapa is round steak that is why it is tender and leaner.
Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?
Catherine: I wanted to have my own “kanto” tapsi like Banang. However, while I was concocting my own recipes, I noticed that the ingredients that I was using were expensive and of high quality. I tried costing it into something cheaper but I noticed that the quality of the food will also go down. I didn’t want to compromise that.
Being a housewife could be very draining and you lose yourself a lot in it. I wanted to become busy with other things. I felt like I didn’t grow much of a person anymore. I was confined at home. There was no balance. I wanted to do more. I wanted to do something beyond the confines of our house. I want to make a difference in the world or at least in our country. Since I am in the food industry, help alleviate hunger or be an advocate of people with disabilities. I am not sure which track I will take yet but at least now I am helping alleviate poverty by providing jobs (even if I have only 3 staff at the moment) I will train them well so I can educate them on the areas where they need help in.
Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?
Catherine: There were A LOT of obstacles. To mention a few… budget, space, personnel, time. As for the budget, we are a one income family. We sacrificed living a more comfortable life when we decided that I will become a house wife. What my husband earns is just enough for the family’s needs. As for the spcace, we live in a condominium that is why we don’t have enough space for storage and doing production with longganisa and tuyo. We are lucky enough to have parents who are very supportive of this decision to enter into a business. Most of the stocks and equipment are at my parents’ house.
Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?
Catherine: Food business is very competitive. Filipinos love to eat and are always looking for something new. We have to be inventive, try to always create new recipes for them to enjoy. It is also very difficult nowadays to hire people who have “malasakit”. The number 1 struggle for me is the personnel. They easily get bored, their work is mediocre. They lack discipline that is why it is very important to be hands on. Alongside with that is that they also have different values. What I do is I talk to them every now and then; I encourage them to be open to me, tell me their problems in the store and with their colleagues so we can resolve them right away.
Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?
Catherine: Passionate, hardworking, focused.
Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder.
Catherine: I will never forget what my first employees did. After the soft opening, everybody was so tired. We all worked for more than 12 hrs because we had to organize everything for the soft opening on the day of the soft opening. The next day, only one of my staff could go to work because they got so tired and went home late. I told my other staff that it’s ok if he will be late. I was left alone to do the preparations the day after aside from buying the things we need. The next day, no one showed up without any warning or advise whether they could make it or not. I was already so tired and overwhelmed with everything that has been happening. I was thinking, how can I open the store by myself? I just sat down and cried. After I cried everything out, I just prayed and that night it was like no trouble has occurred. My In- laws sent reinforcement (their helpers—2 girls) and my dad sent a boy helper. I learned to be tough and to panic. If all else fails, prayer will be my greatest weapon. I submit to God everything that is out of my league.
Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?
Catherine: If you want to have a start up, you have to be hands on. It entails a lot of time and effort. Prepare to lose. You won’t win all the time. Get ready to make your hands dirty. If your staff fails you, you should be able to do things yourself.
Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?
Catherine: Anyone can be anything they want if they put their heart to it. If you want something work hard for it. Stay focused. What are ways that you can do to raise capital? Borrow money from parents… kidding 🙂 start small. Try to think of a way to earn your way up to you bigger goal/s.
Ginger: How do you market your products?
Catherine: I market my products through instagarm and facebook for now. Being at Open Kitchen has also given me so much exposure. I also join contests and bazaars if I can. Growth strategy? Start small. Take one step at a time. Do not rush.
Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important?
Catherine: Before Memong’s Deli, my friends and I tried to put up a food business called Persian Project because we love kebab. However, due to the non alignment of our schedules, we decided to not to pursue it in the mean time. I’ve always wanted to create something for myself so that’s what I did. I tried to concoct something I can call my own. Thank God it clicked. I owe it all to Him because I really prayed for this.
Ginger: Thank you so much, Catherine, for sharing your lovely story!
This is a testament that great business ideas can also come from lovely memories shared with loved ones. Good times shared with loved ones can serve as an inspiration.
As always, thanks for reading my post!
P.S. Here are Memong’s Deli Contact Details
Contact information about your business:
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Number: 09982014066
Facebook Page: facebook.com/memongsdeli
Instagram account: @memongsdeli