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Meet 7 Students Who Started Small Home Businesses In Quarantine

You can do it, too!
IMAGE Instagram/kimdelosreyes

Whether you're exploring a passion project or saving up to help with household expenses, the hustle is real when launching an online business. Small business ideas still require major effort and creativity, especially if you rely on social media to market your products and services. And nowadays, it's not just about standing out, but being consistent.

Looking to start your own small business while in quarantine? Meet six young entrepreneurs who did just that, and learn more about their experiences and growing pains as they adjust their ideas to the new normal:

Pam Biares, Hey.Pammy

Year and Course: Third Year, BS Entrepreneurship

School: University of Santo Tomas 

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Pam loves fashion and collecting dainty trinkets herself, so it's no surprise that she set up an Instagram store selling accessories. She credits her course, BS Entrepreneurship, for being her "learning ground in terms of business opportunities and the like...

"Being a student who takes up entrepreneurship molded me to become the business woman I aspire to become in the near future."

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"Picking a name was the hardest part for me," admits Pam. "As you can see from the logo, the heypammy.ph is on the neckline of the girl, who represents me, as well as other people who are an avid fan of accessories, and I placed the heypammy.ph in the neckline area to symbolize that I am representing myself whenever I get to wear accessories that make me feel good, stylish and comfortable."

According to Pam, the inclusive brand aims to encourage everyone to embrace who they really are. "I just want to make people dress and accessorize themselves freely without asking for anyone's approval."

Since starting her business a few weeks ago, Pam says her biggest learning so far is that "it's okay if not everyone you thought would support your business would support you in the first place. What's important is that you support your dream no matter what the circumstances you face and that you do something about it.

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"Putting up a business is risky and it requires one to be patient because not all businesses get to have their ROI at an instant. You have to work hard for it and be dedicated and passionate in the things you do."

Ricci Cordero (Candy Rookie Batch 3): @Cookingngina.mnl

Year and Course: Second Year, Early Childhood Education

School: De La Salle University

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"I've always loved making food for my family and loved ones," says Ricci. "Since lockdown started, I baked cookies, pies, and cakes every day from watching cooking shows when I was younger to Youtube videos now. I would tweak some recipes to cater to my taste buds better, so you could say that I am self taught."

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Ricci collaborated with her sister to put up Cookingngina.mnl. While Ricci handles the baking, her sister is more focused on the business and marketing side.

"Initially, I usually just give my baked treats to my family and friends, until one day I sought after a product I wanted to buy and I needed to earn. In God's perfect timing, my cousins birthday was coming up and she asked me to bake her a cake and that's how it all started."

In running the biz, Ricci says they've definitely learned how to communicate better, especially from management to production. "There has to be a system to be strictly followed so that challenges would be lessened."

Mika Tiu, @thecanvaspersonalized

Course: BS Medical Technology

School: University of Santo Tomas

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Mika, who credits her parents for fueling her passion for entrepreneurship, says she was inpired because "we wanted pieces that would be truly our own, not just from the customized words but also down to the specific designs. It was a concept genuinely made from the heart, one that we wanted to share with others to showcase their everyday elegance."

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That elegance definitely radiates in the brand's social media pages and packaging. "Our vision came from our desire to incorporate elegance and minimalism. We wanted it to show through our aesthetic."

Since their business is rooted in personalization, Mika says that handling the business truly "entails love, time, effort, and continuous specificity. Each project is handled with scrutiny to ensure that every detail is up to par. Hardwork, definitely, helps us to further exceed as we embark on each request."

Garren Jersey (Candy Rookie Batch 3): @holychip.ph

Year and Course: First Year, Multimedia Arts

School: Mint College

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Holy Chip by Gj is a cookie business in Dagupan, Pangasinan, Jersey's hometown

Jersey first got into baking because of her mom. "We even make homemade ice cream! So I would say I got it from my momma."

After deciding to start the business, coming up with the packaging and branding was next. "My creative juices hit every time it's midnight...

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"For the packaging, I've been researching for days before I started baking and came up with the idea of using a ziplock for the packaging of my cookies. The ziplock keeps the cookies warm and fresh!"

According to Jersey, time management is a crucial skill she's learned to hone in the past few weeks. "I really have to learn time management because it's just me, sometimes my mom, who's baking. Also for the postings of my cookies, I'm all in.

"I manage the money, I'm the one who buys the ingredients, the one who responds to customer inquiries, booking the deliveries, etc... It's tiring but it's fun when you love what you do!"

Maddie Cruz (Candy Rookie Batch 3), @tah.wan_

Year and Course: Third Year, AB Foreign Service Major in Diplomacy

School: Lyceum of the Philippines University 

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Maddie has been self-sufficient since moving out at 19, which is when she started learning how to cook. Two months ago, she decided to go vegan, which led to more kitchen experimentation, and eventually, the birth of Tahwan.

Tahwan is a Thai concept store, which for now caters to those looking for meat-free alternatives. "Thailand holds a very special place in my heart because I stayed there for almost a month for an exchange program and it changed my life for good... Tahwan is also the name my Thai family gave me. It’s my way of immortalizing those memories."

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While a relatively new business, Maddie already has big plans for Tahwan. "Some people start businesses just to make money on the side, which is perfectly fine. But if you think about it, you’re already putting in hard-earned resources plus time you’re never getting back, so why not set it up with a long-term goal in mind, right?

"If it doesn’t work, that’s okay, you still make a few extra thousands but trying makes all the difference. This is the nth time I’ve tried to start a new business and I think the most important thing is really having thick skin and an appetite for risk and criticism."

Her advice to those starting their own endeavors? "Stay committed but also know when to detach. Tie the business to a cause or principle much bigger than yourself, that’s the best way to keep you going. In my case, it’s veganism and culture."

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Kim delos Reyes, @bakeandartt

Course: Second Year, BS Hospitality and Management, Major in Culinary Arts

School: La Consolacion College Bacolod

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Kim has always been passionate about two things: food and art. So much so that aside from pursuing a degree, she got a headstart by launching her small business as a student.

"My packaging is inspired by Pinterest... For my branding, Bake & Art is literally the combination of two things I love, so I figured that they could also be put together in my products."

Since starting her online business, Kim says she's learned a lot about money management, humility, and self-motivation. 

"If you don't manage your money right, you end up just spending a lot of money without earning." This is why Kim stresses the importance of product costing and other logistical concerns.

She also "learned how to be understanding, kind, and open-minded in talking to my customers... Lastly and most importantly, you also have to have a big heart and passion in what you are doing and trust the process... If you love what you are doing and if you are having fun, the outcome will be nice and happy as well!"

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Most of all, Kim stresses that patience is of utmost importance in being a young entrepreneur. "When you want to start or learn something, it's not agad-agad that you'll master or nail it. It takes time to perfect baking cookies, it takes time to nail how to decorate a cake... All you have to do is practice, improve, learn, and research more, trust the process, and have a very strong support system. Those who believe in you, they help a lot! Practice lang tayo."

Margaux Nonato (Candy Rookie Batch 3), @mardough.mnl

Year and course: Fourth Year, Marketing Management

School: De La Salle University

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Fitness enthuasiast Margaux Nonato has a lot of skills up her sleeve, one of which is baking. "Given that I’m a foodie, I wanted to experiment on different food recipes... I spent the most time experimenting on different cookie recipes, and I would let my family and neighbors try my cookies in order to get different types of feedback.

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"Before quarantine, I was only familiar with the basics of baking, but watching experts online, practicing, and experimenting really helped me improve and enhance my skills. After multiple experimentations, I was finally able to achieve the recipe that includes the exact texture and taste that I wanted."

In terms of establishing her brand, Margaux says she wanted to add her personal flair and wit to the concept. "I suddenly thought of Mardough as my business name because of my name. My family giggled and were very excited when I told them about this. Honestly, everything happened unexpectedly; I consider it as a blessing in disguise."

"In terms of packaging and branding, I wanted Mardough to be simple and minimalist. I wanted the trademark colors of Mardough to be maroon and ivory; hence the consistent appearance of the said colors in Mardough’s social media accounts.

"On the other hand, the packaging is a gold box (to match the colors of the tag), with a Mardough tag on top which has a short message for the customers, and is sealed with a ribbon to make the packaging look more pleasing."

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As a graduating student who even had to complete her thesis in quarantine, Margaux says that "having this business truly humbled me as a person and allowed me to grow as an individual. I was able to discover more of my strengths and weaknesses as a person, which I know will greatly help me in the future. I’m beyond grateful for this blessing and opportunity."

*Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity

***

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Ysabel Y. Yuzon
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