Mompreneurs manage growing businesses amid pandemic

by Romy Peña Cruz
Jul 13, 2021
Mompreneurs (L-R) Jinky Aquino, Maricar Israel, Shieriz Cleto, Krizia Batan, and Dys Navarro rise above the pandemic situation and find ways to keep their online businesses thriving.
PHOTO/S: Facebook

Mompreneurs know that "necessity is the mother of invention," as the well-known proverb goes.

With the ongoing pandemic posing threats to their families' sources of income, five moms have dedicated their efforts to online selling, and, at the same time, are doing a good job juggling mom and business duties.

How do they get it all done?

Dys Navarro, It Takes A Village PH

Cavite-based Dys Navarro has been selling online since she was in college.

Her second online shop It Takes A Village PH started in 2018, when she did “pasabuys” or shopping for other moms and moms-to-be for things in Manila that are not readily available in provinces, like Cavite.

It started as a part-time business since she was busy being a hands-on new mom to daughter Mira.

She only began to manage the business full-time last year, just as the country went into its strict lockdown and quarantine restrictions.

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Because her husband CJ was a frontliner, Dys could not help but worry all the time.

“I wanted him to resign because of the risks of getting Coronavirus,” Dys tells PEP.ph via email.

“I strove hard to make the online shop grow so we can earn enough and cover our expenses in case he resigned.”

When one day CJ called her and told her he was resigning, Dys took it as a sign and an answered prayer.

They decided to take a leap of faith and continue managing the online store, which sells Montesorri-aligned toys and materials for children.

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“For weeks, he helped me managed our small online business, that was around May to June 2020. We were able to raise funds to cover our expenses and save some for rolling capital.”

Dys reveals there was another blessing that came their way.

“Little did we know, the Lord had better plans. On the first week of June, he had an offer for a government position. We felt safe and secure with it so he gave it a go.

“His not-so-complicated working schedule is a big help to our growing online business. He delivers some items before going to work, pack orders when he gets home and on his day off, we get our stocks in Manila.

“It was not what we had planned but looking back, I thank God He gave us a detour. God's plan is always better than ours.”

Two of the challenges they faced in their business was the competition and the limitations in movement due to quarantine restrictions.

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To get a leg up over other stores, they try their best to source out suppliers who can give the lowest price. They also make it a point to offer new items every month.

They also registered their online shop with the DTI and BIR to make it official. “We eventually secured a permit to travel for business in different parts of Manila and Cavite regardless of the community quarantine classification.”

It Takes A Village also has a private Facebook group, and sells on Shopee.

Maricar Israel, Mavis Corner PH

For Maricar Israel, opening her online shop started with a desire to help the environment and leave less carbon footprint.

“I wanted to be a cloth diaper advocate,” she says of her cloth diaper journey. “I want to help Mother Earth, to lessen the garbage, especially the use of disposable diapers.”

The problem was cloth diaper shops often have scheduled slot-taking, wherein customers have to secure slots for them to be able to order the products. As the slots were limited, this posed a dilemma for Maricar, mom to two-and-a-half-year-old Mavis.

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“I had a hard time buying cloth diapers for my baby because most of the time the slots for the ones I want are already full,” she tells PEP.ph via Facebook Messenger.

So she turned to her mother-in-law, who knew how to sew, and had cloth diapers made for Mavis. Maricar then posted them in Facebook groups dedicated to cloth diapering.

“After that there were DMs asking to buy or have one made for their babies too.”

And so, Mavis Corner PH was born in September 2020. Maricar's online shop sells cloth diapers with matching shirts and dresses.

During the pandemic, Maricar’s family business of making glass plaques and awards was also hit, so she says they pushed through with the online business for the additional income.

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While her business faced stiff competition, Maricar's experience as marketing manager for their family business came in handy. By sourcing quality materials and being open to feedback about their products, word started to spread and they are slowly but surely building their customer base.

They have also sent out their products to celebrity moms including Sheena Halili, DJ Chacha, Meryll Soriano, Mitch Liggayu, and Nicole Donesa, who have all shared the items on their Instagram Stories.

Krizia Batan, Stay and Play

In May 2020, two months into Metro Manila’s community quarantine, Krizia Batan had a light bulb moment while looking for a slide and swing set for her then 18-month-old son Riley.

“Kasi feeling namin bored na bored na siya sa routine namin sa bahay,” Krizia tells PEP.ph via Facebook Messenger.

“We ordered sa FB Marketplace but we were not satisfied sa quality. So we sold it na lang and looked for other options, but we noticed na pare-parehas lang ang nasa market.

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“We tried searching other designs and materials from abroad, but they won't allow to purchase only one for our son. So we decided to purchase the minimum quantity required and put up an online shop to sell it here, since we noticed madami naghahanap nung binenta namin yun slide ni baby.”

They officially launched Stay and Play in July 2020, and now count celebrities Iya Villania-Arellano, Coleen Garcia-Crawford, Pauleen Luna-Sotto, Kylie Padilla, and Dianne Medina as their customers. Aside from slide and swing sets, they also offer kitchen sets, and other life-sized toys for kids.

Krizia and her husband Arjay work as a team in managing the business.

“Because of the pandemic nag-lessen ang work days nila hubby,” she tells PEP.ph.

“So we decided na mag-resign na lang siya so he can concentrate na lang sa business and it's worth it.

“He handles product sourcing, inventory, management of orders and delivery. I handle naman our social media pages, marketing, and accounting.”

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Krizia, who is pregnant with their second child, a girl, still has her day job as an IT audit officer for a bank.

Shieriz Cleto, Byaheros Express Mandaluyong Branch

Shieriz Cleto, mom of nine-month-old twins Marga and Marthe, works as a senior channel manager for an IT company. While her husband Rustom also has a day job, they still decided to start a business together.

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She tells PEP.ph via Facebook Messenger: “Right now, hundreds of jobs are unstable and hindi namin alam if baka one day, we’ll wake up na me and my husband will both be jobless. Kaya we decided to think of a business where we can invest our savings, for the future of our twins as well.”

They thought of taking advantage of the online selling boom that happened when the country went into quarantine. But instead of selling online themselves, they instead became franchisees of a new courier service player in the market.

“Because of the pandemic, we noticed that couriers and logistics was the only business that is sustainable,” Shieriz explains. “Madami kasing food businesses and other types of business na nagsasara, and people are more into online retail shopping and food deliveries. The demand of couriers are higher during this time.”

They opened the Mandaluyong Branch of Byaheros Express in February of this year.

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The biggest challenge they had to face, Shieriz says, was thinking about whether this type of business was fit for them.

“Byaheros Express is fairly new to the market. Kelangan namin mapag-isipan at i-plan nang mabuti bawat steps na gagawin namin dahil limited lang ang aming funds.”

Shieriz also had to overcome her separation anxiety from her daughters.

“Fear ko kasi yung iwan ko sila nang matagal and mawalan ako ng time sa kanila. So challenge for me, how to juggle my business and mom duties.”

But it looks like Shieriz and Rustom’s risk is paying off, as they are opened another branch in Parañaque in June.

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Jinky Aquino, Suki Cart

The anxiety of having to go out and get groceries during the pandemic planted a seed in Jinky Aquino’s mind.

“My sinigang mix ran out and our eldest son Theo was asking for sinigang,” she tells PEP.ph via FB Messenger.

“Naisip namin, is it worth it to risk a trip to the Filipino store just for a mix? Ayun, we found a niche for this kind of business.”

Since she was also on extended maternity leave as a state auditor in Sydney, Australia, she took advantage of her free time and decided push through with opening the online Filipino grocery Suki Cart with her husband Marvin.

She narrates: “I extended my leave to two years kasi due to the pandemic, we were not comfortable with sending our youngest Bryce to child care. Kaya ayun we found ourselves with single income, after nine months kasi natapos na yung paid maternity leave ko. Dun nagstart kami to take a leap mag-start ng business.”

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There were a lot of things they had to consider and challenges they had to overcome.

“First is how to get supplies. Since madaming lockdowns, it was so hard to get supplies. Second is how do we get our products delivered to our customers? It was a challenge kasi there were so many delays in deliveries.”

With proper planning and research, Jinky says they were able to jump over the hurdles. “Dahil ubusan ng stocks, naging maagap kami sa pag-order sa suppliers. Kasama na din kulitin sila and lambingin,” she says with a laugh.

“Sa delays in delivery times naman, nagresearch kami mabuti kung pano maishi-ship yung frozen products na di masisira kahit tumagal sa delivery. Kami lang kasi ang online shop na nagde-deliver ng frozen items.”

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The online grocery Suki Cart, which delivers to anywhere in Australia, continues to grow. In less than a year, Jinky and Marvin were able to set up a physical store in Hornsby area. They had their grand opening last March 21, 2021.

PROVIDING INCOME AND GAINING FRIENDS

While running a business requires hard work and lots of patience, there is also a positive side to it.

For Krizia, Maricar, and Dys, who mostly deal with fellow moms, it’s gaining clients who eventually became their friends.

Krizia notes, “I gained not just clients but ka-chikahan mommies. Nakakatuwa na makipagkwentuhan and makipagpalitan ng experience on how they are lalo na during this time.

“Nakakatuwa din na they share how happy their kids are with their new toys.”

Maricar adds: “It is so fulfilling to see our customers/clients using our products with their positive feedback. It helps us be inspired and keep making our products.”

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For Shieriz, it’s knowing they are providing a source of income to their staff.

“My biggest happiness in this business is that I was able to help my team, riders and admin staff to have a job despite of this pandemic.

“One of my riders lost his job because his ex-company shut down its operations.

“Yung isa nakatira lang sa tent dahil nasunugan sila and buntis ang kanyang asawa. At dahil pandemic, walang tulong sila na natatanggap para makahanap ng bahay na matitirhan.

“Yung admin staff ko ay underpaid sa kanyang ex-company.

“Yung feeling na nakakatulong ka na magkaroon ng trabaho yung employees mo during this time is really fulfilling.”

Krizia has a similar story.

“We are happy to give income opportunities to our riders with this business. Nakakatuwa na marinig sa kanila na simula nung nag-start sila mag-deliver for us, hindi na nila pinoproblema ang budget nila sa araw-araw, at nakapagtabi na sila pang kuryente for the next two months.

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“One hundred percent of the shipping fee clients pay go to them, plus tips from us and the clients. Happy na ang clients dahil mabilis at safe nai-deliver sa kanila ang items, happy pa ang riders at family nila.”

For Jinky, it’s being able to bring a piece of the Philippines to fellow kababayans abroad.

“One thing I love about our business is receiving notes, emails, comments from our customers who live regionally (parang far provinces in PH) wherein there are no Filipino groceries.

“Some Filos have settled dun when they married non-Filos. They were so happy kasi daming memories of home na nakadikit sa mga Filo products and they can finally share to their kids din.”

ADVICE TO ASPIRING MOMPRENEURS

Asked about their advice to fellow moms who are thinking of starting their own businesses, the mompreneurs all have the same answer: go for it!

“There is no win-win situation when going into business,” Maricar notes.

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But she says this is better than regretting not doing it.

“If it's successful, then it's great and fulfilling but if in some circumstances that it’s not that good, it’s fine. At least you tried. Think of it as lesson learned or room for improvement.”

Krizia cautions: “Do not hesitate to start a business but be sure you have studied it very well. Assess the risks and plan how to control it. Don't invest what you can't lose, especially during these uncertain times.”

For Shieriz's part, “Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Take the risk lalo na if you know that it is worth it and for the future of your family.”

She adds: “There are times na you will feel that the only ones supporting you sa business is your family. Pero life goes on, wag ka papadaig ng fear mo kasi you will never know what’s in it for you lalo na kung mauunahan ka ng takot.”

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Jinky echoes taking risks and having family support, “Just start! Whatever you are passionate about, pray for it and take a risk! Of course, I can never do this without the help of my supportive husband.

“I love also the fact that we are able to inspire our kids to believe in themselves and chase their dreams.”

Dys considers being a mompreneur as an achievement.

She says, “Being a mom is a full-time job. Being an entrepreneur is also a full-time job. Being a mompreneur is a feat. We are a rare breed.”

She advises, “Know your 'why' and make it your strengths—know why you are doing this, why you are into this business. Your whys will give you strength when difficulties come along the way.”

She adds: “You can't always avoid guilt. 'Mom guilt'? It's normal. You are not alone.

“Honor your time and that of others. Being a mompreneur taught me to honor people, their process and their style. Because when you honor yourself and others, that’s when you achieve the greatest results.”

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Mompreneurs (L-R) Jinky Aquino, Maricar Israel, Shieriz Cleto, Krizia Batan, and Dys Navarro rise above the pandemic situation and find ways to keep their online businesses thriving.
PHOTO/S: Facebook
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