Out and About with Amanda

Amanda Griffin: Serial Entrepreneur
Amanda Griffin: Serial Entrepreneur

The enterprising host and model has a knack for earning and saving money
By Lynda C. Corpuz

Lights were on her since she started modeling at 12 and celebrity Amanda Griffin recalls that she knew she was already earning money and she was taught to save most of it. “My parents wouldn’t let me spend it all so I had to put it in savings. I never got to spend those savings until I was 18,” she shares

That discipline instilled in her early on led her to value her earnings, as projects – from modeling, hosting television programs, and endorsing a host of products – continue to come her way.

Appreciating the value of education, Amanda pursued a Communications/Business degree, major in Marketing, Media Studies, and Spanish from Bond University in Australia. With her newly acquired business know-how, industry exposure, and increasing income, Amanda took the plunge as an entrepreneur.

Learning experience
The 26-year old celebrity got her entrepreneurial passion and ability to juggle multiple projects from her parents. Her dad, Englishman Tony Griffin, is an aviation financier and was involved in running restaurants, medical centers, a rental car business, among others. Her mom, a Filipina and former flight attendant, owned a salon. “From them I got a sense of ‘I’d rather do a million things than do nothing and go crazy,’” Amanda shares.

One of the million things Amanda got herself into was retailing in 2001, when she and friend Isabel Engwa put up swimwear boutique Tabu. The business, which sold swimwear of Australian brands, had an outlet in Greenbelt in Makati City. Isabel took charge of the day-to-day operations of the business while Amanda did the public relations, marketing, and even modeling for the store.

Tabu got good press and did quite well. But the business faced overwhelming odds. At that time, the Australian dollar performed strongly against the swinging peso, making it costly to import goods. Worse, bigger stores saw the opportunity Tabu created, and started to get the brands Tabu was importing. “We couldn’t guarantee or order the bulk necessary from companies in Australia for them to grant us exclusivity. We’re just a little, independent store competing against the retail giants,” Amanda explains.

After a good run of four years, Tabu closed shop last year. “We just couldn’t survive against the bigger stores. At the end of the day, it made better financial sense to shut Tabu down,” she explains. Despite the setback, Amanda sees the brighter side. “Up to now, many think that Tabu is still open. It only shows that we marketed it that well. It was really very difficult running it but it was a learning experience,” she says.

True entrepreneur
Undaunted, Amanda jumped into a new business closer to her field: TV production. She shares that she is now co-producing Out and About with Amanda Griffin, a new, lifestyle program targeted at the A and upper B market, set to launch January 2007. She explains, “It just makes sense that I try production. The producing part is easy, since I’ve been in TV for six years now and I know how the environment works so I know what it entails. It’s the selling of our program (that I’m learning now). Seventy per cent of my time now is dedicated to the show, my new baby.”

Amanda, an environmentalist and Greenpeace ambassador for the Philippines, also published a coffee table book, titled Bahura, which features Philippine underwater destinations, captured in impressive photos taken by famed underwater lensman Scott “Gutsy” Tuason.

She is likewise busy with an events management group dubbed Fatally Femme that she co-founded in 2004 with partners Karen Grupp and Celine Gabriel. The company already mounted successful events for corporate clients such as HSBC and beauty and fashion brands Lancôme, L’Oréal, Polo, and a champagne series for Moet and Chandon. “November, December, and the summer months are pretty heavy on events. When there’s a little slowdown in events, then I can refocus,” Amanda shares.

Risk-taker

Apart from her income in her business ventures, Amanda earns about 50% from product endorsements, which she says is not a regular thing. “My real bread and butter is TV hosting which probably is 30% (of my earnings),” she shares.

As a self-described risk-taker when it comes to business, Amanda shares, “Sometimes I lost money. But I believe in trying things, in seeing where I sort of fit in.” For instance, despite her packed schedule, Amanda still dreams to have a restaurant. “If I see that a project is interesting enough and I’m excited about it, then I’ll start moving.” She adds, “I’m not a huge gambler when I undertake projects. There may be risks involved, but with enough hard work on my end, I know I’m not throwing my money away. I know it can work.”

While she takes some risks when it comes to business, Amanda admits that she is scared to invest her earnings, say, in the stock market. “Stocks or mutual funds – I’m not so familiar with them. If I don’t know much about a thing, if I’m not comfortable with it, I won’t do it. Unless I get more knowledge about it, that’s when I start to invest my money.”

As for spending her money, Amanda says she is not a crazy spender. But she admits, “I’m an impulsive spender. I don’t like shopping. I hate shopping. Once I see something, I’ll just buy it and I’m done. I guess I’m impatient; that translates into my spending habits and it works for me.” She continues, “I’m only a big spender when I travel. I travel around the Philippines and I was out of the country last year more than I was in.”

Amanda considers her “big purchases as investment moves,” and she counts her apartment as one of them. “I paid a lot of money for it but I know I’ll get a good return on investment from it since my apartment is located in a growing business and commercial hub. And at this early, I wanted to have a home of my own.”

And for this celebrity who knows where to put her money, Amanda says, “I think I’m pretty financially savvy. But there’s still a lot to learn. I’ve been an entrepreneur for seven years now and although I’m not yet seasoned, I’m definitely in the know now about doing business here.”

Be money-savvy, the Amanda way
Though not yet seasoned, Amanda Griffin is definitely an experienced serial entrepreneur. Here are some of her tips about business and money:

Be passionate
. When Amanda and a friend started the swimwear boutique Tabu five years ago, she recalls, “I was enthusiastic about it but not quite ready.” But her passion, in a way, helped make Tabu a well-known name despite its short run. “As what my father tells me, ‘if you’re passionate about something, give it a try.’”

Devote time. “The biggest piece of advice that I can give is stop splitting time doing different things as I myself couldn’t dedicate as much time as was necessary to maybe better fight off the problems we encountered in Tabu,” Amanda shares.

Erase “failure” in your vocabulary. Amanda says, still from the Tabu experience, “I don’t like the word, ‘fail.’ If at first you don’t succeed, always think that you’ve got something from it.”

Don’t owe too much. Although she took out a loan when she bought her apartment, Amanda says, “I don’t believe in owing the banks too much. In my case, I loaned from the bank about 20% of what I spent for my apartment because I couldn’t have done it alone that time.”

Save. And as she recalls how she learned to save her earnings when she was starting her modeling career, she shares, “It’s better to have something for the rainy days.”

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