For many, the idea of juggling two jobs can sound incredibly challenging. And doing it while also raising young kids seems close to impossible. However, this is the reality for many working moms, like Isabel Celdran Koa, Business Development Manager of The Food People Inc. Apart from working with the family business, she also runs her own clothing label. We talked to the thriving ‘mompreneur’ about how she manages to pull it all off.
For the past two years since she joined the company as Business Development Manager, Isabel Celdran Koa has been tasked to revitalize the Fruits In Ice Cream (FIC) brand image for The Food People Inc. The 22-year-old business is the company behind the hugely popular local premium ice cream brand. But Isabel, who graduated from Parsons in New York, didn’t always see herself working in a desk job. “Over the years, I’ve realized I’m more of an entrepreneur rather than a fixed 9 to 5 [worker] because I like the creative side of the business.” That’s why FIC has been the perfect fit for her.
“Everyday, it’s a new challenge,” Isabel says. “Kaya hindi nakakasawa.”
Like many successful ventures, The Food People Inc. got its start when the founding members left a multinational corporation’s export department as it underwent restructuring. The former co-workers (and UP alumni) that founded the company behind FIC are Jose Celdran (Isabel’s father), Edgar Garcia, Rosalinda Custodio, and Vivien Ongkiko.
This bump in the road ended up becoming just the push the group needed to start their own company. Celdran is at the helm as President and majority shareholder, Garcia as head of operations, Custodio as head of R&D, and Ongkiko as Marketing Director. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the business is thriving. Isabel is on board as Business Development Manager. Her brother Joe, fresh off a Penn State University ice cream course, has just joined too. The future of this 22-year-old business is looking brighter than ever.
When Isabel joined the company, it already had two decades worth of marketing and brand experience under its belt. But despite its captive base of customers, Isabel knew the company would benefit from a brand refresh. “We had to think about capturing the millennials and thinking about the future,” she says.
Although she knew what was needed, her initial challenge was creating a pitch that would win over the managing partners’ approval. In order to help her persuade them, Isabel did a complete brand audit of FIC to see which areas could be improved. Ultimately, the audit told Isabel what she already knew. FIC needed to improve its online presence and reach younger customers.
“How do we remind people that we are the pioneers in the premium ice cream business? And how do we stay pioneers?” Isabel says these were some of the challenges the company’s partners wanted to address.
Luckily, Isabel had already established her own passion project a year before joining FIC with the fashion label Mode de Vie (MDV). She designs classic pieces with a modern twist.
At the start, she made gowns to order. This was a business she inherited from her mother. But Isabel quickly realized she could streamline the business by starting an online shop. She reached out to a friend to partner with. Her friend handled the administrative side of the business while she focused on the designs. For them, starting their shop on Instagram was a no-brainer.
“We didn’t want to have to worry about paying rent for space, inventory getting lost, or hiring merchandisers,” she says.
Since those early days, Mode de Vie has earned impressive 15,000+ followers. The business has tripled its staff in the last three years as well.
“Since I’ve been doing my passion project longer than working with FIC, I’m basing my experience in growing MDV’s following to my work with FIC.”
Thanks to Isabel’s efforts to increase the brand’s online presence, FIC became the first local ice cream brand with its own online shop. Customers can choose from a wide selection of 36 mouth-watering flavors that can be delivered through karton.ph.
Apart from online delivery, Isabel says that Globe’s M2M Fleet Management System has also helped them maintain the quality of their products by allowing them to monitor the entire delivery process, from cold storage to transport to distribution. “The integrity of ice cream product is highly dependent on cold chain management. Now that we have integrated Globe myBusiness M2M Fleet Management System in our cold chain management, we can easily check for any fluctuation of the temperature during the delivery. This is especially helpful in resolving product quality claims in case of “melting” because the data will show if the problem occurred at our end or elsewhere after delivery,” she shares.
Another part of the brand refresh was creating new product lines that cater to different palates and the growing market of health-conscious consumers. Today, FIC boasts four product lines: Premium Ice Cream, Pinoy Sorbetes, FIC Frozen Custard, and the latest, FIC Balance, which offers sugar-free and vegan variants.
“By creating separate categories for them, we’re able to market each one better and emphasize the qualities of each,” Isabel says.
Today, FIC has taken on a decidedly more fun and youthful brand image while still staying true to its original core values and loyal customer base. Isabel’s learnings from running her passion project have helped her bring a fresh, new perspective to an already established brand.
Though she may make it look easy, Isabel admits it’s sometimes a struggle. Like many Filipino women, Isabel tries to achieve work-life balance with her two jobs and raising two young children. She shares that this was easier before she started working with The Food People, Inc.
“It’s really all about time management and knowing your priorities,” she says.
Isabel advises other working moms like her to take it a day at a time. She also hopes that, with the passing of the Telecommuting Act in June (which allows employees in the private sector to work from home) she’ll be able to spend more time with her kids.
As for advice to those in the same field as her, she advocates getting out in the field and meeting and talking to customers. “Reading articles is different from seeing and experiencing how things work in real life.” When you pour your heart into the career you love, you too can find ways to make it work with your passion projects and family life.
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Work-life balance — a concept that sounds really appealing, but is actually something that’s more like a myth rather than a realistic idea. For entrepreneurs, especially, there will always be an urgent email to respond to in the middle of a family dinner, or a school concern that might pop up during a hectic day at work. Owning and running one’s own business may seem like a forgiving endeavor; after all, you have control of your own time. But then again, if not managed properly, that precious freedom might not work to your advantage. Here, dads who run their own business share tried-and-tested time management hacks.
Plan ahead and know what to prioritize.
Rem Bonifacio, owner and CEO of real estate service company Bloc 7202 Ventures Inc. and a dad to a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, recognizes the need to schedule tasks ahead and choose which to prioritize. As someone who also manages a family business on top of his own company, Bonifacio has to multitask on a daily basis while dealing with a lot of employees who are located in different areas. “Cut unproductive activities that don’t help improve yourself and focus only on the essential ones that give value to you and your family,” he advises.
Having a battle plan also works for Lino Quiogue, who runs co-living space The Communal in Pasig City. Quiogue, who is a father to a toddler and is expecting another baby, works closely with his wife when it comes to planning their day ahead. He relates, “This is how we manage our expectation for the next day, and maximize the time we have for ourselves to have fun.”
Being prepared is also important for Jorge Wieneke, president of the Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. (AFFI). “I’ve learned and have always told my sons that it is always better to have a plan B. Don’t settle for just one way of doing things. Always have a backup. Planning is key to everything,” he shares.
Use time management tools.
They don’t have to be sophisticated; even the basic productivity apps in your computer or mobile device can be a big help. Mike Manalo, owner and director of Director’s Board Video & Film Productions, relies on a lot of apps and programs to help him manage work efficiently. One of these is the Mac Calendar, which serves as his “personal secretary” because it “takes care of your schedules, important events like birthdays and meetings, and sets alerts for them.” Manalo, a father to two girls age 11 and 13, also uses Google Calendar as a handy tool to sync all his schedules across all his devices. He further notes, “Always plot your schedule using the calendar on your phone and link it with your laptop or computer calendar, so that you’ll have a quick glimpse of your timelines to avoid overlapping of personal and work schedules.”
Set a routine and stick to it.
Being your own boss (and the boss of others) requires discipline. You can’t just go through the day spontaneously. Bonifacio, for instance, starts his day at 7 a.m. to attend to his daughter’s needs. Come 8 a.m., he joins his family for breakfast before leaving for work. After calling it a day in the office, he goes straight home. “On a normal day, I don’t eat dinner anymore so I go straight to the bedroom and bond with my wife and daughter,” he relates.
Adrian Salvador, who runs an auto painting and mechanical repair home service, also starts his day early. “If there is a project or client I have to visit onsite, I do it after lunch until it’s time to pick up my son at 3 p.m. My son and I get to play basketball, do chores, or just hang out together in the afternoon. More queries come in late at night, so I try to answer them before going to sleep,” he shares. Setting aside time for the family becomes possible by creating a routine.
Always communicate with your loved ones.
An established routine is a big help in dividing your time between your business and your family, but let’s admit it: Work can sometimes get in the way of family matters. When the unexpected arises, avoid misunderstandings by being open with your loved ones. Says Salvador, “I often have to explain to my 10-year-old son why I spend so much time on my phone. I consult with my wife whenever I have problems or challenges related to the business. That way, they understand and appreciate what I do, and they support me in my endeavors.” Quiogue agrees, adding that communication is an essential part of his relationship with his wife.
The same is true for Ryan Villena, founder of Haraya Sports Events Management, which champions “youth physical development particularly through sports and outdoor activities.” Villena relates, “Before I schedule games on Sundays, I have to have clearance first from my personal GM — my wife!”
Buddy Isleta, owner of Puro Taba ng Talangka, credits open communication as a key factor in successfully managing his business without sacrificing relationships. He narrates, “We actually kinda knew what we were getting ourselves into when we started this endeavor. We thought of the possible challenges and what to expect…. We tell everyone that we are open to suggestions and we listen to all of them, while still knowing our limitations.”
Don’t take shortcuts.
Taxumo CEO Eugene Arboleda says that in playing both roles — a business owner and a father — there are no shortcuts. He says, “I learned that in both, you should never sacrifice your long-term vision for a short-term win.” He cites an example: “I could shout at my daughter to stop her from throwing a tantrum, but the real solution is in helping her manage and understand her emotions. It takes a bit more time, but it’s in line with who I want her to be: a mature, independent, self-sufficient person.” The same is true in making decisions for his business — it might seem easy to say yes to certain opportunities that will allow him to earn more money, but doing so will not benefit his company in the long run.
Maximize family time.
Quality time with loved ones can never be overstated. “It’s important for me to be present in my son’s life, and I value the time we get to spend together,” says Salvador.
“Always remember your own kids. Even though playing with dolls or dinosaurs is not something you are really passionate about, what should be put in perspective is that they are also developing in other ways,” adds Villena.
To do this, be really present — physically and mentally — when you’re around your family. Quiogue, for instance, makes it a point to prepare for his time with his wife and son. He elaborates, “Preparing means finishing as much work as I can so that we can enjoy our night without getting late-night [work] calls.”
Indeed, it’s tough running a business while making sure you don’t neglect your loved ones, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Acknowledging that balancing your work duties and personal responsibilities is a tall order takes off the pressure. Says Bonifacio, “You have to do a lot of trial and error… It really is a juggling effort, and the more you accept this nature, the better you can handle both.” Manalo adds another important piece of advice: “Family always comes first. It’s not the end of the world when you [have] unfinished work. There’s always tomorrow to finish it.”
Isleta acknowledges that the support from family and friends is one of the biggest factors of success, both in business and in personal relationships. “We saw how family and friends, our support network, was vital. We found that we had amazing friends and family who are so supportive. They help us develop the tools needed for the business. We’ve also picked up friends who have and are still helping us with the business.”
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While Christmas is a season filled with festivities for everybody, it may be a different story for entrepreneurs.
There’s no doubt that it’s a busy season. Businesses go full steam ahead. Most entrepreneurs work long hours amidst the shopping rush, sacrificing time they could have spent with their families, friends, and loved ones.
However, the balance between your professional and personal lives does not have to suffer. Like everyone else, entrepreneurs like you also deserve some time off.
To help you enjoy the holidays, here are some tips on achieving work-life balance during the busiest time of the year.
Socializing runs deep among Filipinos during Christmas, you will most likely receive invitations to parties, reunions, fiestas, and get-togethers. While you may want to attend every single event, you still have a business to manage. In this situation, it’s important to have technology and time management skills on your side.
To manage all that, you can start by syncing your Facebook Events with Google Calendar. This way, you can monitor your Facebook friends’ invitations as well as your work schedule on the Calendar app. Here’s how you can do it:
Once done, you can now see your Facebook events on your Google Calendar. To add your Facebook friends’ birthdays, you can use the same process, just right-click on “Birthdays.”
Christmas is one of the best times for Filipinos to spend more time with their families and friends. Employees are allowed by their companies to take some time off, while children get to take a vacation as schools are closed.
Entrepreneurs, however, have a different working schedule compared to employees and students. While they are their own bosses, entrepreneurs still have to work to serve a huge population: busy shoppers.
But with the help of management apps like Microsoft OneNote and Trello, you are able to plan projects for your business and execute them ahead of deadlines. This way, you can leave work early and make more time for people who matter.
Not only is Christmas the season of giving, but also the season of leisure. It’s a time when you get to travel to amazing places with your family and friends.
However, managing a business at this time of year makes it harder for you to plan for your travels. This is why your mobile device can help you manage your trips on days when you can take a break from work.
Using various travel apps like Trivago, Airbnb, and Traveloka, your mobile device allows you to plan your itinerary and accommodation easily.
While you’re out of town, sometimes you have to tend to urgent matters to your business. But technology has given a wonderful gift—instant communication anytime and anywhere.
With your mobile device equipped with chat apps, you are able to stay up-to-date with the latest on your business at any time of the day.
In a busy time like Christmas, entrepreneurs may find their plates full. Shoppers are everywhere, and business owners are on a daily grind to take advantage of all the holiday opportunities they can grasp.
But, as mentioned above, entrepreneurs are their own bosses. They are in charge of running their business and managing their schedules, but convenience and portability is essential.
That is why mobile devices like tablets can give you the power to work remotely—at the comfort of your own home, at a coffee shop, at a restaurant, or any place of your choosing.
Using a tablet, you are able to save money, balance your work and personal life, as well as celebrate this festive season with your loved ones.
Time is not a luxury everyone gets to enjoy, but with a strategic mindset, you can surely enjoy the jolly and cheery Christmas season.
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