Every Christmas season brings with it a set of holiday traditions. Whether it’s Media Noche with the family, reunions with old friends, or holiday practices that come at every end of the year, there’s always something for you to look forward to as December comes to a close.
For business owners, there are other traditions that come with being a negosyante. Discover how a first-time milk tea brand reinvented their Christmas traditions with the addition of a new business venture.
Refresher Course is a quaint milk tea shop in Biñan, Laguna founded by Janyn Reyes, Kriselda Espinola, and Joyce Ellice Ramos. It was founded in September of 2018, so this is the first Christmas its founders are spending as entrepreneurs.
Alongside the usual things they do with their families and friends during the holidays, the addition of a business has given Janyn, Krisel and Joyce more things to do as well as more things to celebrate.
In fact, right from the beginning of their business journey, there were many new things to enjoy and overcome.
“Starting up, we faced a lot of challenges,” says Krisel. “Sales everyday, setting up [the shop], hiring and training. It all took time.”
Having started as college friends, the three co-founders had to learn to balance their friendship with their professional lives.
“We started out as college friends, and our big learning was to balance fun and professionalism,” Krisel says. “We [had to learn] to separate our friendship from business.”
“Another big thing we learned is compromise,” Janyn adds. “We learned to compromise not just with each other, but with everyone and everything else. We learned to accept things that we can not change.”
As they overcame each of their challenges and got better through thick and thin, things became more stable and enjoyable for these co-founders. But a new season rolled in, bringing with it a new set of habits for each business owner to form.
If there’s one thing they all agree on, it’s that there are more people to take care of now besides their usual peers. As Janyn says, “Back then we only had to think about our family and friends during the holidays; but now we [have a commitment] to our customers, too.”
To answer this commitment, they set up some holiday-centric programs meant to increase their customers’ satisfaction and make the experience offered at Refresher Course even better than usual.
They created a Christmas drink as a “gift” to their customers, who had been asking for the flavor for a while now. This special drink is available during the season, spurring customers to try it out, but it’s also a good testing ground for the entrepreneurs, who can continue the drink if it does well.
They also put up a holiday raffle and, despite being a small and very new business, have found a way to give back to their customers that isn’t too expensive and still shows they care. With every purchase of their Christmas drink, customers get a ticket to the raffle and can win prizes like early Christmas gifts.
This is above and beyond their regular loyalty card promo, which is available year-round and lets customers have a free milk tea after purchasing a certain number of drinks.
In addition to all that, as Janyn says, “We try to make our customers feel as Christmas-y as possible. On Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, we’ll be giving drinks and candies to the carolers of our small community.”
When asked about how their Christmas is different now that they have a business, the three owners have similar answers.
“Janyn and I plan to stay here at the shop on the 25th,” Joyce says, “so we’ll really be spending Christmas here.”
Krisel also told her parents that rather than going home to her province early in the season, she would have to spend much of her time at the shop now that she owns a business.
These new responsibilities are ones that each co-founder is happy to take on, since it means they’re supporting their business and each other as well.
“It gets a little hectic,” Janyn admits. “You have responsibilities to your family [and] to your work, but you can’t forget your business and your plans for it.”
“Before, we used to just think of what to give to family members as Christmas gifts,” Krisel says. “Now we have meetings to discuss plans, logistics […] and we have a lot of plans for the future.”
“There are so many more things we need to think about now, unlike back when Christmas was just about good times,” Janyn says. “We have to think about the hours of our employees, salaries, the market growth during the holidays … that’s how the whole month of December has changed for us.”
Christmas has always been a special time of year for these three, but having a business makes it both more challenging and more exciting for them. From putting up a Christmas promo and special drink to staying at the shop during Christmas Day, these are all things they haven’t done before.
But each challenge is taken with confidence and each new prospect is awaited with excitement. After all, Christmas is a great time to try new things and make new memories. So a few new traditions are right up their alley.
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