A young couple who looks forward to their life together started producing sweet local delicacies on the side to augment their income from their professional career.
“We both are planning to get married, and are now preparing for our future together. We are very grateful for the opportunity to start our small business because sales will add up to our savings,” says Jaymee Millena who is engaged to Julian Quimpo.
“We want to save more for our future together. That’s why we decided to start doing business,” she says.
Their love for food and dessert led to the production of palitaw with yema filling, a sweet concoction that combines two local favorite sweets—palitaw or glutinous rice cake and yema, a confectionery made of egg yolk, milk, and sugar.
Orders quickly came, followed by offers from resellers. “Our dream is to have our own food hub someday and more branches in the cities nearby. But right now, we are looking for resellers so that we can accommodate large number of orders outside our residence,” says Millena who works part-time as a licensed psychometrician in charge of validating students’ research questionnaires.
Quimpo, her fiancé, is a full-time software developer for an IT company based in San Juan City.
Their business operations are home-based at the moment, and they do everything by themselves. “I am the cook in charge of marketing, inventory and taking orders. Ayan [Quimpo] is in charge of packaging, and he is the driver and also product photographer. We are our own delivery team,” says Millena.
“On its first days on the market, lots of people immediately loved palitaw with yema filling. We received lots of orders from new and returning customers. We also received lots of inquiries from resellers. We are also planning on adding new fillings to our palitaw soon. In February, we introduced a new product—coffee jelly drink,” says Millena.
It was not a walk in the park for the couple, especially after delving into entrepreneurship amid the pandemic and following two failed ventures.
“We came up with a plan to start up our own cosmetic line in 2020, because at that time it was on demand, but our product didn’t click in the market,” says Millena.
“We were discouraged at that time. We often questioned ourselves, ‘Why do other sellers with the same product as we have, managed to gain more customers and why do people love their products. Maybe business is really not for us,” she recalls thinking.
A year after the cosmetic venture failed, the couple decided to venture into the food sector. “Since I love cooking, and we both love spicy foods, we tried selling our own chilli garlic oil. It’s funny remembering those times when we prepare the garlic and red chilli for cooking.
Because we had no food chopper/processor at that time, so we chopped it manually and ended our day with burning sensation on our hands,” says Millena.
While there were many orders for the product, initially, demand eventually waned. “We were not receiving orders anymore. We realized that maybe, not all people are fond of spicy food. So we started experimenting food that we think people will love,” she says.
It is then that they tried cooking the classic palitaw and gave it a twist, which found a market following. “Our target market is mostly food lovers who have a taste for food delicacies with some twist,” she says.
Millena believes that if one works hard enough and understands what the market wants, success will eventually follow. “We all are striving to make our businesses grow, pay our bills and become successful owners of our own someday,” she says.
“Pandemic actually pushed us to start a business. We realized how important it is to have another source of income aside from our salary, for us to be able to save more for the future,” says Millena.
Millena is optimistic about the business prospects as the country transitions to the ‘new normal’.
“For us, we see this challenge as an opportunity to gain momentum: whenever we overcome such challenge, we wonder how much more we can accomplish once this pandemic is over,” she says.
She says the plan is to take advantage of opportunities in the market. “Our expectations this year, aside from making our business grow, is to discover new opportunities and try out new things in food industry where we can diversify our line-up of products,” she says.
Millena encourages other young entrepreneurs not to give up. “There’s plenty of opportunities to grab despite this pandemic. When you do business, you will encounter people who will say something bad about your products because not all people will like it. All you need to do is trust yourself and your product,” she says.
“As long as you made it with high quality standard and with love, there’s nothing to worry about. Just remember that when one door closes, another door opens,” she says.