Back then, phone cases were meant to simply protect your phone in case it falls. But now, not only are stylish phone cases popping out from left to right, they can instantly up the ante of your OOTDs, too! Nisa knew just how a fashionable and unique phone case can make an otherwise simple outfit standout with a breeze, so during her "funemployment" phase, she decided to turn her obsession for phone cases into an actual business. Read on to find out the inspiring story behind Nisa and Frank.
How it started. "Actually, Nisa and Frank just started last March 2016. I used to work for a local fashion e-commerce company, but last year I decided that it was to go and take a break. Working in the online shopping scene made me want to explore and start something of my own. Honestly, I didn't have any sort of business plan or proposal when I started Nisa and Frank. I just dove in and took the risk."
Why Nisa and Frank? "I thought that when it comes to selling products, it was important to sell something that I am personally interested in. I did some quick research, went through my things at home, and sorted through all the things that I love and I realized that I had been hoarding so many phone cases at home. So I thought to myself, instead of buying all these expensive cases, some even reaching thousands of pesos, why not just come up with my own line? Because these days, phone cases are so much more than just protecting your phones—it has become a statement piece—I opted to offer customized phone cases, where the customer can show off their personality and individuality through their phone cases."
Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur definitely has its downside. It was hard gaining people's trust because I lacked experience in actually running a business. I had limited resources and I was afraid of failure. But at the same time, being young could work to your advantage, too. There are fresher ideas, optimism, more space for growth and learning, and more importantly, having the knowledge of the internet and social media on your side, which plays a big role in the business industry nowadays."
Why a business? "What inspired me to start a business on my own is very simple—personal freedom. I just wanted to get into something that I loved. Something that I would enjoy doing at my own time and pace. Though it's not easy, it's something that truly makes me happy."
Drawing inspiration. "I draw inspiration from a lot of things really. I'm always on the Internet and I keep myself updated on the latest trends through the news, blog sites, social media, and content sharing sites like Pinterest and Tumblr. Like that time last year, when people were crazy over marble prints, of course, we followed suit. It's all a matter of keeping up with the times and you'll see that even the simplest things can be an inspiration."
Team effort. "At the beginning, I used to wear all the hats in the business. I did everything on my own—from planning to accounting—and even marketing, operations, and logistics. Being an entrepreneur means that you have to know every part of the business process no matter how big or small it is. So that's what I did for the first year of Nisa and Frank. Through time, I learned my strengths, what I wanted to focus on, and my weaknesses, and the areas where I needed help. Come my second year, I now work with a few people to help me get through what I couldn't overcome alone. After all, it's not very easy to be the jack of all trades and you can always get by with a little help from your friends."
Little challenges. "Although having your own business means more time in your hands, it wasn't always easy. I would say one of my biggest challenges would be overcoming my fear of failure and managing my finances. When you start your own business, you do not get a monthly salary, no leaves or weekends off, and no, you do not stick to what you know and get paid for it. There is no company to back you up when things don't go as planned. When I left my previous job, I lost all security of expecting a paycheck every 15th and 30th of the month. This time, there are no guarantees. Your salary and your successes are all up to you and how much hard work and dedication you put in. The fear of failure sets in when you know you have invested your time in the business and you think it is not going to work out. There will always be that thought at the back of your mind, but you just have to toughen up, overcome it, and work hard."
Staying original. "There's no denying that there are so many online stores on Facebook and Instagram that are also selling phone cases. You’ll see all kinds of case styles—from snap to silicone—and even the unusually shaped ones. But Nisa & Frank is unique in the sense that we offer some designs that are hand drawn and digitally edited by me. We also accept phone case customization and that gives us a chance to engage with our customers."
What's next? "My future plan for Nisa & Frank is to keep expanding the line of products up until we can offer more than just phone cases. We are currently working on a jewelry line under the same brand that is designed by me. As much as possible, Nisa & Frank would like to remain exclusively online, but we want to make it globally—especially since our local prices are very competitive in the international market. We are very amazed by how the Internet is shaping the world and making everything easier for everybody. I guess it's safe to say that online shopping is going nowhere, but uphill from here."
"You only live once so do what you love and in turn, you will love what you do."
To young budding entrepreneurs. "My advice for budding entrepreneurs would be to follow your passion, start with something you love, take risks, make mistakes, but don't make the same mistake twice! Learn from them and improve yourself. Ask for help when needed and lastly, work hard and enjoy the ride."
Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!