Inspiring stories from a weekend bazaar

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TOOTS OPLE

I SPENT my Sunday visiting different booths at the Weekend Showroom Bazaar held over the weekend at Tiendesitas Mall in Pasig City. Biz Whiz, a small company owned by my only daughter, Estelle, organized the bazaar, her second this year.

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What struck me as I went around the Weekend Showroom Bazaar was the enthusiasm in the air, and the positive attitude of sellers, as they tried to capture the attention of prospective buyers. I saw entrepreneurship and ingenuity in action. Passion for business proved to be a common denominator.

I met Rochelle Liuan, owner of Jaja’s Fuzz Boutique. She makes pet dogs apparel and pet beds. Her business is named after Jaja, her beloved Shih Tzu who died last year after a bout of distemper. “I loved Jaja so much and she was very tiny, so even if I had three other dogs, I loved making clothes specifically for Jaja’s size.” That love for her pets drove her into making beds for cats and dogs, as well as pet apparel.

She used to sell used cars for a living until Jaja’s death gave her a reason to stop, and channel her grief through an entirely new venture dedicated to the stuff that her pet dogs would love. “I started selling online via Facebook and OLX. A pet shop saw my pet beds and ordered 18 pieces. It opened my eyes to the huge potential of my business.”

With an initial capital of P12,000, Rochelle says her business continues to grow with orders now coming from as far as Baguio City, Los Baños in Laguna, and Cavite as well as re-sellers based all over Metro Manila.

“I am excited about the future. Pet lovers are now more open about wanting to buy and invest in clothes and beds for their dogs. I have a lot of repeat customers because we share a common passion, which is caring for our dogs,” Rochelle said. Interested resellers or customers can search for Jaja’s Fuzz Boutique on Facebook.

University of the Philippines Professor James Ryan Jones gave his entrepreneurship class a simple assignment: form a group of six classmates and start a business with a minimum of P3,000 as capital. College students Therese Pallilo, Janel Mastrili, Dianne Garcia and Bea Pelayo decided to design and manufacture bags for male college graduates applying for corporate jobs. Having friends and family members who were already into the bag manufacturing business made it easier for Dianne and Bea’s group to complete their project.

They named their bag business “Fort Knox,” after the site of the United States bullion depository, which used to house a large portion of America’s gold reserves. “We envisioned our bag products to be more than just a simple bag containing stuff, but as vital part of the owner’s corporate journey, so he can use it to collect milestones of success along the way.”

“While we were doing the legwork for our group assignment, our teacher was not really convinced about our bags because he thought we priced it too high at P2,000. When it was time for us to present our bags in class, he was impressed, and so were our classmates.”

The four students continue to go to school while selling their bags made out of high-quality imported bonded leather in various bazaars and via Facebook. “We love getting feedback from our customers. We are fortunate to have a reliable and competent subcontractor based in Marikina City that executes our designs. Getting positive feedback about our bags gave us the courage to turn our group assignment into an actual business.” Fort Knox Bags can be easily accessed and searched through Facebook.

If you are in all-natural spices and food, then you need to know more about Casa Lontoc Sinamak which sells all-natural salt from Batangas, burong isda from Pampanga and Pangasinan, home-made chili garlic and clear white vinegar known as Royal House.

Carlos Lontoc, owner of Casa Lontoc Sinamak, is in the IT field and provides inventory and manufacturing systems for clients. He decided to venture into his own food business after designing the inventory system of Royal Vinegar, a huge company that supplies distilled vinegar to major food chains in the country. “I asked permission to be one of their distributors and then decided to add more products like the chili and sinamak sauces that we ourselves make.”

I was surprised to learn from Carlos that there is a Philippine Chili Federation that gathers chili sauce makers from all over the country. “For those who wish to venture into chili sauce products, you need to know your costs. In August 2016, the market price of sili was P50 per kilo. Last December, it went up to as high as P1000 per kilo. To address price fluctuations, I decided to just plant my own sili.” Carlos can be contacted through www.royalelmss.com.

Within a bazaar lies a bazaar of stories, infused with hope and energy and positivity. All we need is to encourage more Filipinos to find their passion and turn it into a business that would help grow our economy. Young entrepreneurs and seasoned veterans have one thing in common: they believe in their products and work hard to make their small businesses profitable.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for featuring Fort Knox! Please do like our page facebook.com/fortknoxbags and follow us on Instagram: @fortknoxbags! You may also check out our products at tinyurl.com/fortknoxbags

  2. Thank you so much for featuring The Weekend Showroom bazaar! For those interested to join our events, please send us a message at Facebook @theweekendshowroom.