Maintaining Success Marked by Entrepreneurship (MSME): Young businesswomen amid the pandemic (2/3)

by Warren John Ancheta, Trisha Alliah Limbo, and Margaux Maria Yzabelle Riola

(This article is the second of a three-part feature article series. Featuring Alanis Ysobelle Angulo, co-owner of Koreyana Kitchen.)

Where It All Began

Currently residing in the city of Lucena, Quezon Province, Alanis Ysobelle “Yani” Angulo and their family have started ‘Koreyana Kitchen’ and ‘Koreyana Kafe’ as their family’s new business venture where they sell Korean food under Koreyana Kitchen, and cold brew and pastries under Koreyana Kafe. 

“Nagluluto kami ng Korean food, pero we focus on Korean street food pero nag-o-offer rin kami ng chicken poppers, ganon. [Tapos] Koreyana Kafe, cold brew tapos we’re looking to sell pastries,” she said. 

At the young age of 19, Yani started ‘Koreyana Kitchen’ with their family way back in August 2020 and ‘Koreyana Kafe’ in February 2021. It all started with a backstory where their entire family went on a vacation trip to South Korea already with the presence of their enthusiasm over Korean Culture.

The collaborative Angulo family – business handlers of Koreyana Kitchen and Koreyana Kafe (From L-R, facing pic: eldest sibling Yana Angulo, mother of three Cynthia Angulo, middle child Alyssa Angulo, youngest child Alanis Angulo, father of three Franklin Angulo)

“Nung nag-Korea kami, ‘dun ko first time matikman ‘yung odeng, eommukguk, ganon. Tapos ‘yung ate ko, mahilig magluto, so ‘pag-uwi namin, palagi niyang niluluto. ‘Tas ‘di ba nag-pandemic, […] parang trinial-error lang ‘yung recipes tapos ‘yung photoshoot, sinabay na namin doon tapos sabi namin, ‘Bakit ‘di tayo magbenta nito?’ Kasi pandemic, medyo gipit sa pera so […] parang tumulong na rin kaming magkakapatid,” Yani narrated.

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That alone already displayed their courage; Yani knew the risks they were going to encounter in starting a business amid a pandemic. Nonetheless, Yani has been enjoying the process of promoting the business through online social media platforms as a Creative and Marketing Head for both businesses. However, their capability of running a business was very overgrown. She also has power and control in the decision-making process for Koreyana Kafe. Despite having the authority to take over one of their startups, the work remains collaborative among the entire family as Yani has stated in the interview. 

Overcoming Challenges and Celebrating Successes

It is a well-known fact that the pandemic indeed had brought inconvenience and struggles to all businesses worldwide, most especially in local businesses across the country. Hence, there is no denying that Yani, alongside their family, also experienced difficulties such as in promoting both Koreyana Kitchen and Koreyana Kafe outside their circle of friends and how they are going to put themselves out there in public, the latter being the most challenging part in handling businesses as identified by Yani themself.

The line of cold brews offered by Koreyana Kafe / Photos from Koreyana Kafe on Facebook

“Parang after noon, ‘anong gagawin natin?’ kasi ‘di naman pwedeng mag-rely tayo doon sa mga kilala na sa atin, so paano tayo makikilala ng ibang tao? […] ‘Yun din ‘yung mag-start ng business mo talaga once makilala ka ng mga tao and umorder sila nang madami,” they said.

Another struggle faced by the family in handling both food-related startups was finding suppliers. Although there are many Korean marts present around Quezon Province, it is indeed essential to know which supplier offers the cheapest but of highest quality products perfect for the business.

Nonetheless, struggles and challenges faced by entrepreneurs like Yani are bound to be conquered in order for the business to push through successfully. Some of the practices Yani and their family did to overcome the challenge of making a business known to the public are joining more than 20 Facebook groups such as the community market and actively posting on social media in order to boost their online presence. This also includes posting reviews and comments received by the business in order to show the people that the products they are selling are authentic and legitimate.

Reviews and repeat orders from repeating customers posted as feedback on their social media accounts / Photo from Koreyana Kitchen on Facebook

What comes after the struggles and challenges are the memorable successes and achievements an entrepreneur can attain. For Yani and their family, the greatest achievement their business has earned was the way back during the holiday season – specifically Christmas and the New Year holiday. 

“Nung 2020 pa actually, parang ‘dun na ‘ko nakakita ng first ever great achievement namin kasi nung holiday season, nung Christmas and New Year, ginawa namin ‘yung 2020 K-mas Promo tapos ang dami nang nag-advanced order to the point na a few days before Christmas and New Year, fully booked na kami agad for those dates because more than 10 ‘yung nag-avail.” she said. Yani also related that most of their orders from their holiday promo were repeat orders which meant they have indeed captured the loyalty of their customers.

Now that the world is transitioning to the new normal, both Koreyana Kitchen and Koreyana Kafe remain to be continuously operational and serve the Lucena people authentic Korean street food. They have established both short-term and long-term goals for their business, such as authentic audience growth on their social media platforms as well as accommodation of sponsorships and partnerships from the local Lucena community. 

As for the long-term goals, Yani and the family have also aspired to put up a physical store in Lucena City for Koreyana Kitchen and Koreyana Kafe. The store would cater to those who continuously patronize their products, especially since their area is near a university and school which will be more open to more students as their main demographic.

How To 101: Tips and Advices

Mistakes and regrets come along when starting out a business. It is no secret that these happen as well when both Koreyana Kitchen and Koreyana Kafe started out way back 2020 and 2021. A major struggle Yani and their family encountered when starting was the pricing. 

“Alam mo ‘yung habang nagbebenta ka, naiisip mo ‘siguro okay na ‘yung 50 pesos na kita or 100 pesos na kita pagkakastart mo pa lang.’ so parang regret na ‘yung unang price na nilabas, sobrang baba,” they expounded. Nonetheless, people learn from mistakes and their family has done all they can to correct the mistakes when they started out. 

From Yani’s experience as a young woman entrepreneur, one thing they could advise aspiring entrepreneurs out there is to know your worth both as a person and as a business owner. It is vital to keep track of all the supplies and ingredients to be used in the entire production process. It is also deemed important to be well aware of the markup prices for the labor to be contributed as well as the quality of your food. 

“You have to take the risk, pero kaakibat noon, hindi siya ‘yung spontaneous risk. You have to plan your game plan before you jump into the field kasi if pumasok ka kaagad without knowing ‘yung suppliers and recipes [sa field ko], parang mahihirapan ka in the long run. You should take the risk as long as you plan it out first,” they further added.

Yani also cited that tapping your connections is also a key step in further marketing your business in the outside world. “Huwag kang matakot magtanong sa iba. Kung may kakilala silang supplier or may kakilala sila na interested dun sa business mo, baka pwede mong i-reach out personally.” 

A Young Woman Entrepreneur in the Playing Field

As a young woman entrepreneur, even Yani did not expect to become a young woman entrepreneur in the playing field. “Ako, 50/50 kasi parang pinangarap ko na rin siya dati pero kasi, as you grow up, parang bata pa, dream ko na talaga magkaroon ng cafe or small business pero as you grow old, parang nare-realize mo na ‘Ah, parang ang hirap niyang simulan’ tapos hindi naman kasi ako business-related ‘yung program na inaaral ko ngayon so medyo hindi ko siya iniisip [or ine-expect] na something na maging totoo,” they explained in the interview. 

Yani’s challenges encountered while running the business were not different from what other entrepreneurs’ experienced. However, what made them exceed expectations was their great support system composed of their family and peers. There were other priorities Yani had to attend to as an undergraduate student, which made it more challenging for them and their family to handle the business. 

With their siblings and parents also having their own line of work, they knew they had to work twice as hard to actually see results. However, with being a first-hand witness to what their mom has been venturing into the world of business, such as offering tutorial services, selling clothes, and even handling an events management studio which were all successful, Yani knew that it might be a risk worth taking to come up with a business with the help of their family as well, knowing well that they will be guided by their entire family – and by that, they knew and wholly believed that women should and can take up more space in the business world. 

As Yani would say, “It’s time to even out the playing field, kasi usually when you think about business, ang naiisip mo ‘businessmen’ so we should realize that ‘business women’ as a term should have the same weight and feel as the term ‘businessmen’ kasi people kind of belittle when women take the lead or dinadoubt nila. Once we take up more space in the business world, mare-realize nila na we can handle things, sometimes better.”

At the end of the day, the world is every entrepreneur’s playing field. With Yani’s story with their family in handling two business ventures at once, they are enough living proof that a woman can also indeed succeed in the world of business. With even the littlest of resources and guidance from people you look up to, a business can start small and grow progressively to reach one’s dreams and aspirations as a fellow young woman entrepreneur.

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