Fashion

This Couple Took Their Relationship to the Next Level by Starting Up a Biz

#CoupleGoals
IMAGE Jeff Ong | instagram.com/iamjeffong ART Clare Magno

We've heard it said before, but what does taking our relationship to the next level really mean? For some couples, that would be defining their relationship status. For some, that would be meeting each other's parents for the first time. For the adventurous couples, climbing a mountain together is the very definition of taking their relationship to the next level. But for Janel Lim and Dale Chua, they chose to start a business that's rooted from something they love to do together—traveling. Read on, get inspired, and know the story behind The Venture Pack.

How it started. "As a couple, we decided that we wanted to touch new territories and create our own business. With that goal in mind, we thought about what people would want to spend their money on. Nothing kicked in until we started traveling. While traveling, we would buy pasalubong for our family and friends, but we would always have trouble packing the gifts in our travel bags. Because bringing extra bags just for pasalubongs can be a hassle and we couldn't find big travel bags that were spacious and stylish at the same time, we thought to ourselves, why not just create a bag that's compact and stylish at the same time? From there, we decided to start The Venture Pack."

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Why The Venture Pack? "We saw how traveling is steadily turning into a must-do for a lot of people not just locally, but internationally, too. Aside from that, we understand that a lot of people are having a hard time looking for a travel bag that's convenient for the shopping without scrimping on style. So we decided to cater to that need and create stylish and spacious travel bags."

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Young entrepreneur. "We found that being a young entrepreneur can be both hard and easy at the same time. We can't deny that entering the bag industry was mighty hard since we didn't have any background when we started hte business and let's not forget the high number of players in the industry that we're competing with as well. But because we were really determined and passionate about our business, working on The Venture Pack didn't feel like work and while there are days when we'd feel extra tired, because we enjoy what we do, we still end our days with huge smiles on our faces."

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Drawing inspiration. "We draw a lot of our inspirations from our families, friends, our imperfections, and of course each other."

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Coupled up. "Not everyone recommends starting up a business with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but lucky for us, our work ethics are the same and we always keep an open mind when it comes to each other's contribution and ideas to make our brand even better."

Little challenges. "When we first started The Venture Pack, it sure wasn't easy. At that time, we didn't even know if our target market would be interested in our travel bags. With that in mind, we launched the brand through social media and tested our products in the market by joining different bazaars to raise our brand awareness."

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Staying original. "To make sure that our brand stands out from the crowd, we make sure that we take into consideration our customers' feedback every time we do our product conceptualization. From there, we create new designs that aim to fit their needs. We also make sure that each bag has a unique selling proposition, which makes it stand out from our competitors' products easily."

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What's next? "For now, we're just trying to solidify our branding and improve our products more in terms of functionality and quality. Maybe in the future, we'll expand to other regions within the Philippines. Maybe we can event bring the brand to international heights, but for now we're just taking one step at a time."

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Entrepreneurial philosophy.

"Do what you love. Work hard and pursue your dreams."

To young budding entrepreneurs. Take it one step at a time because you won't have it all instantly. And also, learn to appreciate what you have and keep setting goals you aim to achieve.

Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!

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About the author
Janelle Yau
Fashion and Beauty Assistant
The Rebecca Bloomwood of Manila. I spend half of my time obsessing about the latest fashion craze, and the other half overthinking and over-analyzing just about anything under the sun. When I’m not busy as a bee playing with fifty shades of pink lippies, you can probably catch me swiping my plastic for yet another pair of shiny, pointed gold flats.
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Today, I am sharing my mother's story. I wish my mother was a constant in my life, like an angel who guards you to sleep and comes right there when you called. But angels come back home too, in heaven where they always belonged, and my mother went back a little early. My mother died when I was 13 years old. My last memory of my mother: Letting go when you are not yet ready is a very cruel thing that one has to ever experience. It is a sudden wave of total sadness and desperation crashing into your very core.

On the 28th of July 2013, we went to a resort in Bataan for the employees’ getaway. My parents own a 7-11 franchise, and it had always been a tradition to give their store clerks a get-together every year. I remember very well the last breakfast I had with my mother. The Sunday morning sky was clear and sunny, and the sea was calm and tranquil as we ate our breakfast on a cottage under the tall palm trees. She shared with us a strange dream she had the other night. She dreamt about an unknown woman holding an ice pick chasing her down on a dimly lit street, then she woke up just before the woman could grab her arm. We never knew what that dream exactly meant and now, I wished I never knew its meaning. After breakfast, my family and our employees decided to take a swim at the beach. The day was nice. The morning air may be chilly but the sun’s kiss on our skins gave us warmth. It was perfect. Everything is fine and the tides are low which made it very enjoyable to swim. We swam a little farther from the shore and we stopped to the point where the water reached our shoulders. We were talking about the good things in life and reminiscing the good old days. Those are the things that I’ve always loved about my family because I never had a meaningless conversation with them.

A few moments later, we heard a panicking call for help from one of our store clerks. It was Rachel. She was struggling to keep her head above water. She was already drowning but the odd thing was, she was only a few feet away from us. At first, we thought she was just playing around until we felt the sand in our toes dissolving like powder. It felt like as if the seafloor submerged deeper. I remembered sighting the shore and it seemed so close yet very far away. We were all panicking at that time. No one knew how to swim except my mother so without having second thoughts she swam towards Rachel and called out to my father, “Yung mga anak mo! Dalhin mo sa pampang yung mga anak mo!” and I never thought I already heard my mother’s last words to my father. I was paddling like a dog, gasping for air, as I say a little prayer to God to take us all back to safety. I felt my father grabbing our swimsuits, trying to lift our bodies so we can breathe even though he was also struggling to keep himself alive. Once I felt my toes touch the ground, there came a veil of relief that covered my whole body. As soon as my father and my sister made it to the shore we started calling out for help. There were no lifeguards on duty at that time, no personnel, nor guards. I saw my mother already floating in her stomach. We sighted a boat sailing nearby, we waved our hands and called for their attention. They almost ignored us because they cannot comprehend what we were trying to relay but the good thing was a passenger in the boat noticed my mother and Rachel in the water.

My mother’s body was laid on the shore. She was unconscious and her whole body was pale as white. My father performed CPR but my mother couldn’t get the water come out of her mouth because the food she ate earlier got stuck in her throat and blocked the passage. A concerned tourist offered his car to deliver my mom in a nearby health center or a clinic of some sort since the hospital was miles away from the beach and she needs immediate care. My father told us to stay in the hotel room and prepare mom’s belongings so that if she wakes up she has fresh clothes to change into. My sister and I finished packing our things and waited for our father to pick us up from the hotel. I was crying and I couldn’t stop myself because I was afraid to lose my mother. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be if I lose her that day. Moments lasted until we heard a knock on the door and it was my father, crying, and apologizing to us. He hugged me and my sister tightly and saying, “Sorry, anak, sorry hindi na uuwi si mommy, sorry hindi ko nasagip si mommy”. And that was the moment I felt sinking into the ground. I never knew what to feel at first. I was numb because my worries were now actually a reality that I have to live in. I was at shock because I am now one of the kids in those cliche teleseryes who lost a mother at an early age. We went to the health center to settle everything. The clinic was very small and it sure did lack equipment. He told us to stay in the car. I wanted to see my mom, but I know he never wanted us to see her like that. I didn’t know what to feel. I was having high anxiety levels that my stomach is churning and I wanted to vomit. I got off the car and entered the health center to find the restroom. When I was finding my way around, I passed by the emergency room. I saw my mother lying in a foldable bed, lifeless, her hands dangling from the side of the bed, she has violet bruises on her skin, and her body was partially covered with a white towel.

That is when it sunk into me that she’s dead and never coming back. My father asked the others to just commute back to Manila because what we need right now is comfort from our family. The drive back home was one of the most painful memory I had as a kid. My father was in the steering wheel crying his eyes out. We drove from Bataan to Pampanga. We went home to my grandmother’s house, the nearest house that we can call “home” because how are we still going to be “home” without her?

Once we reached Pampanga, we stopped over to the gas station and my father made some calls to our loved ones to tell them that my mother passed away. He then called my aunt to help him arrange for the funeral. We got home and my grandmother hugged us and told us to get some rest. Already tired of crying, I went to sleep for a while. I woke up and for a second, I thought everything that happened the other day was all just a dream. That she was there in Manila, sitting on the couch reading some furniture magazine, waiting for us to go home. But that’s how cruel life is, right? I got up and weirdly, I felt sands in the bed. It was gray, just like the ones on the beach. I thought maybe it was just dirt but it was a fair amount to believe that maybe she visited us before she left. - ?

- The part of how I conquered the grief of her passing is shared in my personal blog. I felt the need to share my story with everyone since she's the woman I look up to. Feel free to visit my personal blog too when you have the time. I love writing my stories. Thank You! link: http://qkathreece.wixsite.com/kathreecequizon/post/breaking-waves

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