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International Women's Day 2021
Snippets of these Southies' afternoon chat with four exceptional ladies and legit SOUTHIEpreneurs: Mara, Darren, Camille, and Yam.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these four ladies further--Camille Santos of Camsbucha, Yam Santillan of Nutology MNL & Healthy Something, Mara Francisco of Mara's Homemade Hummus, and Darren Tagle of Egg Tarts MNL--after meeting them at the Homegrown Circle Fair in Alabang Town Center last weekend.

PHOTO CREDIT: Camille Santos
During our afternoon chat via Zoom, we talked about how and why they started their businesses, their amazing "support group", their passion for making a mark in their communities through their creations, and what this year's theme for International Women's Day, #ChooseToChallenge, means to each of them.

What struck us the most about them were the fact that they all exude so much passion in what they do, and that their knack for being creative with how they presented and marketed their products was undeniable. We just feel so fortunate to have met them at the fair and experienced their creations for ourselves. And let us tell you, Southies, ALL LEGIT!

Mara Francisco, the brains behind Mara’s Homemade Hummus, is a company artist for the Philippine Ballet Theater. She started making her original hummus just for her personal 'baon'. After a year of bringing it to work and sharing it with her friends they urged her to sell it. She ultimately did so in her free time. Fast forward to the pandemic, performing was put on pause, so the lockdown gave her the opportunity to fill her time with making and selling her hummus. To date, she has 6 variants, and, just last year, she introduced her own pita breads (regular and wheat), and focaccia, which her aunt makes. She joked about how much she gesticulates during our chat, but we think that's one of the secrets to her seriously delicious homemade hummus--jazz hands! Yay!

Camille Santos is a registered nurse and a self-proclaimed health nut, who had her job in the hotel industry initially put on hold because of the pandemic. This gave her some time to pursue her passion project which is making fermented tea drinks. (They're super noms, btw.) She’s always wanted to start her own business, but just found the perfect opportunity during the quarantine, because then, she was able to put in more time with  creating and experimenting on stuff. She initially thought of putting out her granola bars and yogurt, but didn’t feel that they were the right products yet. Eventually, she discovered kombucha, and everything just fell into place. Duh! With her coined name for her brand being Camsbucha, doesn't that just sound a lot like fate?

Yam Santillan’s need to sustain her daily almond milk intake without having to go to the groceries too often due to lockdown restrictions gave birth to Nutology MNL. What was originally meant for personal consumption became a full-blown business because her friends found her nutmilks delicious (We did, too! Loved her Almond, Cashew, and Black Sesame Milks. Super!), and encouraged her to sell her products to more people. Yam took their advice and received great response when she started offering it in their community/neighborhood. Turns out, they, too, didn’t have a lot of options in terms of accessing fresh almond milk within the area. Safe to say, it was a hit! Talk about 'cashew'ing in on nut milks, eh? *insert dollar signs here*

Darren Tagle, who bakes the most exquisite egg tarts (EVER!), used to help out in their family business fulltime until the lockdown. She ended up with more time on her hands due to her being required less often to be in the office physically. She spent her free time baking for her family. The first product she made available in the market was her chocolate cake as Casa Homemade Goods. After arming herself with more market knowledge, she figured she had to sell something that’s unique and would make her stand out among the huge number of food sellers online. Hence, the egg tarts and her rebranding from Casa Homemade to Egg Tarts MNL. We think this business move was 'eggs'ecuted perfectly!

Here are our key takeaways from our chat with these amazing ladies, which any aspiring SOUTHIEpreneur can really benefit from.
1. Your passion, commitment, and dedication are all essential to achieving your mission. A good idea needs action and can take a lot of work. Otherwise, it's gonna stay just that: a good idea.
2. Is it sellable? Never forget to consider creating good branding and how your clientele can benefit from your products/service.
3. Starting a business has “prices”. Study your costing; be deliberate with the financial aspects of running your business. You can't count on profits, when you can't even crunch numbers.
4. You can’t give up on your first try. Finding the right product can sometimes take a while, so be patient and you'll know deep down when you've found the right one for you. (Sounds a lot like your love life, eh? lol)
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or share what you know. Recognize that your success is your own but you don’t have to do everything alone.

These ladies met each other when they took up a free food costing seminar together. They found that they had common goals and challenges as SOUTHIEpreneurs, so they formed their own support group where they could learn from, encourage, and lean on each other. Because of that, we, Southies, get to experience their amazing creations for probably a veeeery long time. We have Lexie from their Facebook group, BF Homesarap, to thank for that! 

Happy International Women's Day to all the exceptional, inspiring women out there! Thank you for inspiring us, too, Mara, Darren, Camille, and Yam! 


Check out their brands' socials below:

Nutology MNL: Nut milks.
Follow them on Facebook. || Follow them on IG.
Healthy Something: Plant-based tapa, tocino, lechon belly.
Follow them on Facebook. || Follow them on IG.

Camsbucha: Hand Crafted Fermented Tea.
Follow them on Facebook. || Follow them on IG.

Egg Tarts MNL: Portuguese egg tarts.
Follow them on Facebook. || Follow them on IG.

Mara's Homemade Hummus: Homemade hummus and pita breads.
Follow them on IG.

PHOTO CREDIT: Camille Santos
For more info about how you can become a Homegrown Circle member, enjoy exclusive perks, and join future fairs, contact  Alabang Town Center via their official platforms below:
  Alabang Town Center on Facebook
  @alabangtowncenter on Instagram
  @alabangtowncntr on Twitter


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