Like many business owners, Charisse Tinio has been forced to pivot and navigate the "new normal" to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charisse is the wonder mom behind NicePrint Photography & Exige Weddings. Both businesses belong to the events industry, which is one of the many fields that has been greatly affected by the pandemic.
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) via Zoom, Charisse revealed their current struggles amid these turbulent times.
She said, "Iyong main line of business natin which is, halos everybody knows, iyong NicePrint Photo, the wedding industry has been really, really hit very, very hard because bawal ang social gatherings, bawal ang mass gatherings.
"Hindi naman nag-cancel ang weddings. Siyempre, we want to believe na tuloy ang mga kasal and matutuloy pa rin one way or the other.
"Some, nagtuloy na. We still cover intimate weddings. But siyempre iyong bulk, that's really part of life right now so they all moved to 2021."
These challenges made it easy for one to lose hope.
Charisse continued, "Siyempre when we all went through the quarantine and the pandemic, there are so many ways kung paano natin ito haharapin, di ba, nung mga time na iyon.
"Siyempre ang dali mawalan ng loob, mawalan ng hope when you see everyone around you going through so much hardships 'di ba—emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially."
But Charisse and her husband Jibby Tinio decided to try and find a silver lining by grabbing the new opportunities that presented themselves.
She said, "For us, kami ni husband, we are blessed because we are able to take this chance, opportunity na makahanap or maka-tap ng new businesses na ipinanganak nga during the pandemic."
BORN OUT OF PANDEMIC
In five months, Charisse and Jibby were able to launch not just one but four new businesses.
The first one was Mrs. Herbs PH, one of their start-up businesses where they sell plants and herbs that people can cultivate in their own homes. Charisse launched this project on Instagram in April after getting inspired by Neri Naig.
Charisse narrated, "It started with two things: my love for cooking and the fact na sobrang hirap humanap ng herbs nung quarantine.
"Na-inspire ako nito kay Neri Naig, she's my bride. One time, nag-IG live din kaming dalawa kasi tinuturuan niya ako to properly care for our plants and vegetables.
"From then on, nagkaroon talaga ako ng interest in growing my own herb garden."
A month later, Charisse launched her second digital business on Instagram. Cremosa is where she sells her premium baked ensaymadas.
She said, "For me, isa sa mga pambansang dessert ng Pilipinas is ensaymada. Maraming versions ng ensaymada, from north to south of the Philippines.
"Everybody knows I love to cook and baking is part of it. I wanted to share something from my kitchen because nung quarantine, nag-vlogs ako na tungkol sa pagluluto ko.
"So nagkaroon tayo ng mga cook off with iba-ibang celebrities. Marami talagang nagtatanong kung kailan nila matitikman iyong luto ko.
"So siyempre, inisip ko talaga kung alin dun sa mga recipes or alin sa mga gawa ko iyong puwede nating i-share sa mga tao."
In June, Charisse launched Speedster, a line of non-alcohol disinfectants.
She said of her third business venture, "Unlike alcohol, this is non-toxic... Non-alcohol and it's water-based so it's very, very very safe, meaning you get safety and protection without compromising na masisira iyong mga gamit niyan."
The main product is used to disinfect car interiors. Four other products are used to disinfect a wide variety of items—such as sneakers, smartphones and gadgets, helmets and face shields, and leather goods, including luxury leather items from Hermes, Gucci, to name a few.
Their latest business was launched at the end of August. The Wallery PH is a subsidiary of NicePrint Photography & Exige Weddings.
Charisse explained, "It's a website wherein people can easily upload their photos, their favorite photos, and they can manipulate through our website the filters and how it will look when it's printed, if it's going to have a border or wala or if it's going to have a frame."
ADAPTING TO THE NEW NORMAL
Setting up these businesses came with their fair share of challenges.
Charisse admitted that, as a very outgoing person, she struggled most with shifting to the work-from-home setup.
She explained, "Nahirapan talaga ako to shift to work from home kasi I'm very sanay sa physical meeting. Sanay ako pumupunta sa office every day.
"Iyong culture ko is ganun, gusto ko kaharap. But in anything, we adapt.
"This is the temporary new normal so we just really have to embrace these changes and challenges kasi it's also for the safety of our family and our loved ones."
She also encountered some logistical problems, but this didn't stop her from pursuing her passions.
"Nahirapan din ako in terms of suppliers. I mean, mahirap talaga ngayon. Kaya iyong iba nagugulat how we were able to roll out these businesses agad-agad."
Somehow, her main businesses have helped her a lot during birth stage of her new ventures.
"It just really is a blessing na meron tayong... our own companies di ba, iyong NicePrint, siyempre ang dali mag-mount ng corporate shoot kasi meron tayong sarili.
"In terms of packaging and printing, it was also easier for me than the rest because I also have my own printing company which is Print Divas."
The new businesses also helped Charisse keep her employees.
She told PEP.ph, "Para maiwasan natin mag-lay off. There are people who have always been employed with us na walang gagawin in the meantime because walang weddings. Kaysa i-lay off natin, nabibigyan natin ng bagong opportunidad para mag-grow with the other businesses.
"That what I'm really grateful for—to keep supporting our people kasi iyon naman ang pinaka-importante."
If there's one piece of advice Charisse would like to share with other Filipinos in this current situation, it's to grab every opportunity that comes your way.
She said, "You just really have to seize opportunities that you see around you. Kapag meron kang nakitang need at wala sa market, you know, that's already a brilliant idea."