By: Jamie Papa and Veronica Florendo
What drives someone to begin a new journey?
For most Filipinos, it was the unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic that sparked a change in their lives. With health concerns forcing them to adjust to an unprecedented amount of time stuck in their homes, many decided to try their luck in the rapidly growing online marketplace. Whether spurred by a desire to help, to reignite passions, or to act as a means to get by, several social media users started launching “quarantine businesses.”
Living in a time of paralyzing uncertainty, it can be frightening to take the risk. Three businesses—Ate Beth’s Online, Sadiwa, and To Dew Today—led by people from the University of the Philippines (UP) might just be the inspiration people need to start their own entrepreneurial enterprise. Listen to their stories, and learn a couple of things that can aid in setting up an online business.
Ate Beth’s Online
For some quarantine businesses, it was an act of necessity that made them turn their physical stands into online pages.
Elizabeth Anggot, commonly known by the UP Community as “Ate Beth”, was one of the few UP vendors who decided to make the transition online. With UP suspending face-to-face classes for this semester, it has left popular local stores and stalls with no source of income.
“[Kaya] naisipan ko na mag-online selling nalang,” said Ate Beth in an interview with the UP Speech Communication Association (UP SPECA). The student organization also helped her set up her own online page, Ate Beth’s Online. Here, she continues to sell her home-cooked meals that have become the UP community’s favorites—her empanadas and korokke balls, to name a few.
It is no surprise that her sukis on campus have been her loyal customers even online. After all, these businesses are not just concerned with selling, but also with using their stalls to serve others. While reflecting on her 15 years on campus, Ate Beth said, “Masaya [rin] kaming nagtitinda at napaglilingkuran ang mga estudyante at mga kawani ng unibersidad.”
One important takeaway from Ate Beth’s experience is that small businesses driven by a sense of community will always welcome an outflow of support. In the case of Ate Beth’s well-loved stall, people from UP did not hesitate to extend assistance when she needed it. It is important to know that one will never be alone in their online ventures but that they are supported by the people closest to them in every step of the way.
Sometimes, a business begins through one’s own desire to assist the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.
Sadiwa, a women-led initiative, started out during the first few weeks of the quarantine as two friends who desired to aid farmers struggling to get by under strict protocols. What began as a cooperative with FEED PH, a non-profit group committed to providing healthy food to frontliners, has grown into a community of people that share the same vision as its founders.
Now, Sadiwa offers a variety of fruits– mainly strawberries and lemons, along with seasonal items– and coffee beans sourced directly from farmers from the Cordillera region. Since then, they now have over 4000 likes on Facebook and a thriving marketplace where consumers share their own recipes and creations with Sadiwa’s products.
Despite their growing customer base, Sadiwa still strays away from treating itself as a business and instead focuses on fostering a better relationship with the farmers.
“We wouldn’t want to call it an online business,” says Dell Young, one of the founding members of Sadiwa.
“We really say that this is an initiative for our farmers.”
Sadiwa is committed to involving its consumers in the process, marketing their products as something that does not just satisfy their cravings but also gives tangible ways to reach out to those affected by the health crisis.
More than anything, it is not about profit but about the various sectors they lend a hand to through their work. When asked about how Sadiwa prices their products, Dell says, “We always make sure to give them the maximum profit that they deserve.”
They also make it a point to do the same for their truckers, riders, and every other person that helps them make the journey from Cordillera to Quezon City.
With the tight-knit community of people committed to service, big corporations could only hope to recreate the collaboration that is fostered in this small-scale initiative.
Keeping the many people they have helped in mind, Dell advises small business owners to “Just go for it! You’ll never know until you try.”
She also says that it is important to be open to opportunities. While Sadiwa’s success was overwhelming at times for the team, they decided to keep pushing through. When challenges arise, Dell says that it is important to be flexible and keep yourself inspired by remembering why you started in the first place.
To Dew Today
For Rachel Torres, interest is what pushed her to launch a new brand. Recently, she founded a passion-driven emerging makeup and skincare line called To Dew Today.
Due to the pandemic halting her time as a hair and makeup artist, she decided to start her business on Instagram with her first two lip glosses: the OG and Lip Dew.
“I’ve always wanted to make my own brand for lipstick because as a makeup artist, I always wanted to give my clients a product to touch up with after our session,” she explained.
With a large number of competitors in the cosmetic industry, To Dew Today knew the importance of standing out from other products. When asked about her edge, Rachel said, “I found that my product is what the market lacks: a moisturizing, non-sticky and comfortable lip gloss! That’s why it’s unique.”
Another advantage that Rachel has is that her customers voluntarily post their product feedback, which she reposts on her IG feed to further market her brand.
With the help of its happy patrons, To Dew Today is growing into a rising business.
When asked about how she strengthened her brand, she said that she looked to other online stores for inspiration.
“Learn from people of the same platform. Since mine is a purely IG-focused (Instagram-focused) store, I learned from those who did and do IG businesses also,not from big businesses.”
“Also, be patient with yourself,” she added. “This is my first business venture and my first dip into business. If it’s yours too, realize that it takes time. Takes time to realize what you really want, to know how you want to do it, to deliver what’s always been in your head.”
While small businesses have boomed over the past few months, the future for many still seems uncertain.
Ate Beth, while thankful for the support of the UP community cannot wait to be back on campus, serving the community she loves.
For advocacy-led initiatives, the future is filled with opportunities for more collaborative involvement between sectors. For Dell and the rest of the team at Sadiwa, they can’t find any reason to stop.
“Nandun na rin talaga ang passion namin to push this advocacy further and, if possible, on a larger scale pa,” said Dell.
With Rachel’s plans to continue To Dew Today even after the pandemic, she knows that what she continues to learn will help her in the future and that the learning never stops.
Looking at how each business started, it is evident that every single journey does not begin the same way. Whether it will start through discovery, desire, or necessity, a new venture is always a unique adventure.
Now it’s your turn to forge your own path. Are you ready to start your own business?
You may contact the small businesses and initiatives here:
Ate Beth’s Online
Mobile Number: 0930 139 1146
To Dew Today