Creating Mermaid Island: How I Went from Being Jobless to Becoming My Own Boss in Just One Year

Me: “Babe, gusto kong gumawa ng sariling cosmetic and skincare line.”

Babe: “Anong unique sa gagawin mo?”

Me: “Natural and organic ingredients.”

Babe: “Meron ng ganyan. Ano pa ang difference mo sa mga existing brands?”

Me: “<Thinks deeply..> Hmm.. MERMAID?!”

This was our conversation way back in September 2017.

You see, life after work wasn’t easy. I thought I had a plan, but my plans weren’t working so well for me after I resigned.

I left my fancy and glorious corporate job (that I love very much by the way) after working there for five years last March 2017.

My Mom just passed away, our family business has been teetering on the brink of closing down, I have no savings, and it felt as if my life is falling apart.

It was the lowest point of my life, and I still have to keep things altogether.

I mustered all my guts to work on my shoe brand, Versaheel.

It’s the second brand I’ve put up after my now defunct brand Pomppet, which I started back in college.

I had a new concept, new strategies, a business partner, new connections, new everything. But after months of working on my designs, and learning the craft, for some reason, I still can’t manage to increase my sales.

I invested so much, I lost so much too.

One September night, I stumbled upon an episode of “My Puhunan”. It’s a show that features success stories of businesses, focusing on how they were able to scale up from such a small capital.

I got so inspired by the mother-daughter tandem – the team behind the featured local cosmetic and skincare brand.

It got me thinking on the possibility of creating my own too. Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive to share it to my then-fiance, now-husband.

Who am I to create another pitch, when I haven’t gained anything yet from my current brand.

Sure, the brand and marketing are amazing, but at the end of the day, numbers speak. And these, I don’t have.

Hence, the conversation atop this blog.

And after saying, “Mermaid!” he replied

“Hindi sapat yon!”

So, I shrugged the idea off, anyway I was planning our civil wedding back then. It ought to keep me distracted from the rejection and frustration of the brand, not generating sales.

Come 2018, shortly after our wedding, I found out I was pregnant!

My mind suddenly went into frenzy. I thought about getting back to work again, because I knew I have to contribute to our expenses.

John and I are starting a family, and we have to prepare for birth, and of course me, on finding a way on how to always be physically present, since I wanted and decided to breastfeed.

I needed a job at home. Or rather, I need to be able to earn while at home.

Since I cannot go to the shoe factory all the time, given by my delicate condition. As I was usually left all alone in the condominium, it gave me a lot of time to think on what I should do.

I applied as a home-based English teacher. I got into the first screening, but I failed my phone practical test. My proctor said I was a bit bossy and a little aggressive for an online tutor.

Haha That IS me, right there! Trained more than 15,000 Real Estate Agents, what does she expect? 😀

And then Mermaid Island, the idea I was exploring back in 2017 dawned on me again.

I talked to John, and he said,

“Hindi mo gagawin yan Babe. Tatamarin ka lang. Andami ng makeup sa market. Masasayang lang pera mo.”

But I was so determined, I secretly enrolled myself to a course behind his back. I even had to borrow money from my sister!

The more he said I can’t do it, the more I wanted to do it. I want to prove him wrong, or rather I want to prove to myself that I can make a brand work.

Creating Mermaid Island was also not easy for me as a blogger. I knew that when I create my own line, I have to say goodbye to some cosmetics and skin care sponsorships.

It made me hesitate, but I was inspired by Anne Curtis’ BLK Cosmetics and Vice Ganda’s Vice Cosmetics.

Their celebrity statuses are a big leverage for them, and I admire how they focused on creating their own lines, not minding the possibilities of endorsement opportunities from other more well-known brands.

I have to make this big step. For my son, for our family, and of course for myself.

I started with one product alone. After selling my ONLY 60 pieces of stocks in just a day, I reinvested them again to more raw materials.

I didn’t even blink on the thought of spending a centavo on a celebratory gift for myself. All profit goes back to the business. I have to make it grow.

Instead of focusing on marketing in the early stage of the business, I focused on product development. I learned that you don’t have to sell a product, when a product can already sell itself in the first place.

Ultimately, you have to create a product that sells.

I had so many inhibitions in Versaheel, so with Mermaid Island, I was not afraid to be risky. I have already lost so much, how much more can I lose?

In terms of ideas, I was also very raunchy.

Mermaid Island should not just be any other brand. I took the lessons I learned from working in the Marketing Department, and applied them here.

From the concept, graphics ,to the names, to its voice, and even its font styles should communicate the vision I have in mind.

It was a one-man team, sometimes two, when John was not busy with work.

I did a lot of trials before perfecting formulations.

Sometimes I cannot repeat the same shade because I lack equipment and appropriate measuring devices. There were a lot of wasted raw materials and containers too.

It was pretty messy and colorful at the same time. I remembered staining my clothes and the floor. Sometimes, it was difficult for me to reach the oven to heat the waxes because my tummy was already big at 6 months.

I also replaced defective products, because you know, reputation means a lot especially when you’re just starting out.

I can recall that I am measuring my success by my ability to refill my box of raw materials. I once had them in a small PR box I got from a sponsor.

Fast forward to today, I have a whole room full of waxes, oils, extracts and actives, etc.

I have my staff who helps me with production. From the little table I once had, we now have a laboratory. We also have physical stores now, and upcoming bazaars.

I can’t believe these all just started last year. What mermazing journey it has been!

See, everything just comes to fruition when you dedicate your time, effort, and skills to a dream, and of course lots and lots of good marketing strategies. Which I think will come by experience.

A keen eye and humility to discern and admit that there can be room for growth wouldn’t hurt either.

After all, everything starts with a good idea. It’s your call whether you want your good to stay good, or to be great.

PS.

Just finished our first Trendsetter’s Bazaar last weekend!

So excited for our next this coming September 27 to 29, at SM Megamall Megatrade Hall C.

Sea you!

Your Mermaid Miss,

Via

How 3 Millennials Plan to Shape the Start-Up Scene Outside Metro Manila

Working as Training Officer before allowed me to travel to different places and meet different kinds of people. I consider myself fortunate because it’s not every day you get to have a new city as your office. In one of my training sessions, I met this guy. He was sharp and insightful. He was my student.

Honestly, I found him a bit timid at first because he just looks so quiet. Little did I know that this man has a lot to say about life, and being successful. His name is Kelvin.

Kelvin Pacelo

True to his name, as to what “Kelvin” is in the physical sciences, as a unit of measurement for temperature, you really can feel how warm his personality is. You could say that this is due to his innate ability to find ways on how to market anything, no matter what the condition and terms are.

When I left my job, I never thought that we would still connect via social media, considering how saturated our newfeeds and messengers can be. Seemingly, we are to meet in a Bloggers Meet Up, wherein he was one of the organizers. He asked me to be a speaker.

It was during our chitchat after my presentation that I got to know his story. Kelvin once had a business, when a BIR agent came and interviewed him about his enterprise and responsibilities. Kelvin willingly accommodated the agent and discussed everything he knows. After the discussion, it ended up, him paying for penalties. Hard earned money that could have been saved and used for other purposes had he known the regulations well.

Kelvin couldn’t get over what happened so he thought of a way for him to avoid getting into such situation again. He came up with the idea of setting up a firm specifically to address such concerns and other business related problems.

Lorraine B Cadingla

He also thought of setting such up to help other small businesses and young entrepreneurs. With this idea, he then talked to Lorraine, a CPA, and a good friend for her to join the company to be set up. Lorraine agreed and discussed other services the firm could offer. 

Since the plan is to start a business solutions firm, Kelvin knew he needed more help from experienced CPAs. Those who dealt with small and big business owners. This need led them to adding Wynner, which made the company even better. After all the talks and planning, they started Pines Business Solutions (PBS).

Wynner Ngoslab

“While working in public practice, I encountered a lot of entrepreneurs who had tax cases of non-compliance where they are asked to pay huge amount of penalties. Such problems arose due to lack of accounting and tax knowledge. Most of these are small businesses who cannot afford the fees of big accounting firms.

Clients wanted to pay for the least amount of money to avail such services because they wanted to save. For those who just started doing their business, hiring an internal accountant is not an immediate option since it is an additional cost. As part of PBS, I wanted to help them by offering quality services at reasonable prices.” – Lorraine B Cadingla, CPA

Pines Business Solutions

PBS was formed to serve the needs of local businesses in Baguio city including nearby provinces in Northern Luzon. Since Baguio is famously called as the ‘City of Pines’, the company was named after it.

Pines Business Solutions offers the following services:

Social Media Marketing / Payroll Management /Tax Compliance Management / Financial Statement Compilation / Bookkeeping / Business Set – Up

Kelvin, Lorraine, and Wynner have one thing in common; they are all alumni of Saint Louis University, Baguio City. While Kelvin pursued his passion in business, Lorraine and Wynner had great professional careers as CPAs.

“I’ve always admired consultants whose advice gave a positive impact not only to their supposed clients but also to their client’s stakeholders. The bits of advice of consultants such as Joseph and Daniel (Characters in the Bible) not only helped the rulers they were serving but also the nations these rulers governed. I hope that PBS would have the same impact to its clients and communities where its clients operate.” – Wynner K Ngoslab, CPA

The creation of PBS isn’t hard because the three agreed that when your services are geared towards helping others, it would be a success.

PBS is a corporation created with one question in mind, how can they help small business owners grow as they grow their business, thus a beneficial relationship.

“Being a marketer for a long time now, I’m confident with my execution and marketing skills, but I know I needed partners who have the same work-ethic and passion to continue this idea. Lorraine and Wynner are both driven professionals, working with them is like a dream come true for someone like me who wanted to become a CPA. I think they’re the best CPAs in town.” – Kelvin G Pacelo

Kelvin, Lorraine, and Wynner are proud graduates of SLU. They started PBS to help inspire other colleagues and millennials to follow their passion.

To know more about these three inspiring millennials, click on this link: Meet the Founders

I just then realized that with every story comes something unique, riveting, and something you can draw inspiration from.

Thanks Kelvin!

How about you merfriend, what’s your story? I’d like to know!

 

**, Via