Monday, November 13, 2006

Journey to a Passion

(1st part of a series)

A lot of people who watched at ABS-CBN's Kabuhayang Swak na Swak texted that they also want to have a business like mine and if I could teach them. Some were even asking me if I hold seminars. Oh no! I am not yet an authority on that! I can only inspire but I don't spoonfeed. There's a big difference.

I actually didn't plan to put up this business. It was born out of passion in creating. I've always wanted to do something with my hands. With 6 years prior experience in desktop publishing (I used to have a desktop publishing shop in Laguna) and graphic design, I thought maybe I could self-study website designing while staying at home waiting to give birth to my first baby.

While surfing, I came across Filipino wedding websites with free classified ads. I thought maybe I can post my services such as making handmade invites, designing bridal cds, calling cards. I then made a 1-page website through Yahoo Geocities to practice my website design skills. Soon came inquiries through email and one of them was a bride-to-be asking me to design a butterfly-inspired invite. I came up with an original design and she liked it. Little did I know that this would be the start of something wonderful. But her wedding is not until next year....

An invitation to join a bridal fair at the Hyatt Hotel came. What??! What is a bridal fair? I didn't know then that I could join a bridal fair because I thought its for "big" businesses only. Knowing that I would never know unless I try, so I signed up for a half booth. Armed with some guts and a supportive husband, I braved showing of my designs during those 3 days. Well, I never got an order from the fair but I met the niece of one of the most important people in my business - my supplier. Not only that, wedding suppliers noticed my designs and one of them invited me to display my invitations in his wedding shop a couple of blocks from our house.

The first order I ever got was a 20-piece order of CD souvenirs. The ink I bought was around Php1500 which came from my husband. I was paid Php800 for the CDs. Soon after, a wedding coordinator contacted me and asked me to make 100pcs. handmade wedding invites. The Php800 I had (my husband told me to keep the money) I used to order a few sample sheets of handmade paper for me to make my new samples. The client liked the design and made a 50% downpayment. I used the money she paid for the papers and other materials like ribbons and adhesive.

It was just a one-woman show. I made all everything - from the envelopes to invitations to assembly and ribbons. That was my first big project. The balance paid me well and so I thought this is a gooooood idea. :)

Lessons learned:

- The internet is a powerful tool to market your products or service. It is your 24-hour, 7-Eleven store, anywhere in the world. It never sleeps.

- You don't need to spend a penny to put up a website. There are a lot of web hosting sites that are free and comes with templates that you can use to create professional--enough-looking website. A little HTML would be helpful but not required at this time.

- If you don't have an email address, go get one for yourself so people can easily get in touch with you. And CHECK them often - you'll never know whenluck strikes you.

- In this kind of business, PASSION is the key. You have to have it - it reflects on the quality of your work and your design. Money was never the motivating factor for me. I just love creating.

- Know more about the industry you are in. Get to know other suppliers as well, not just competitors but other people involved in the industry. Networking is also beneficial.

- Start small but dream big. But you don't stop at WORK on it wide awake! :)

More next time....

"Live life creatively."

1 comment:

TinamisisniFrancis said...

Hi Airees! I miss woking with you! I'm proud to say that I'm one of those very very satisfied client of your handywork :) miss ko nga planning a wedding of my own eh :P hehehe! miss you Airees and ur two adorable angels!:)