The Mommy Market

By Janice Villanueva as told to Excel V. Dyquiangco

I grew up in an entrepreneurial home. My grandfather and my parents were both into the printing press business so naturally they would assume that I would also be involved with the trade. Unfortunately to their surprise, after graduating from college I took a job as sales representative at the Yellow Pages – not be cause I didn’t want to be in the business but I didn’t want to work with my dad. He was very difficult to work with and he was very authoritative.

Working at the Yellow Pages for two years provided good training for me – sales scales, marketing and communication skills and all that. When my friends invited me to join a publishing business, we started producing maps in 1994. We called it the Must Handbook. We made the map from DPWH and we had surveyors, and then we had a directory, coupons and things like that. Although the work was very tedious, I had fun because I was with friends. It was very good business at that time.

While working in my own business, one thing that developed in me was my self-confidence. I was very shy then but gradually as I went out into the field to do my work, my shell broke. When I became a mom, all the business ideas came and at every stage of my pregnancy and my giving birth. All the little problems of motherhood I had to deal with – from the cotton balls down to the towels and how I can improve it. One time I was breastfeeding in the malls and I had a difficult time since I was exposed. This was the time when I started my very first clothing line for mothers called Mommy Matters.

The Mompreneur

My clothes look like regular clothes but it has panels that open up for breastfeeding moms. It has a hidden slip that you lift so when you are breastfeeding, you don’t look like you are. We export our products to the United States; some products to Singapore.

As my child grew up, I realized that moms need more information. My friends would text me, “Do you know where I can take Lamaze classes? Or who organized your event?” I was the type who keeps phone numbers so I decided to publish a book, a directory for moms called Mommy Pages. Everything is there – from a list of party planners to finding shoes for your baby. The book was really driven by passion since I would show just a prototype to the advertisers. I think they just really saw the passion in me as a mom and they placed ads. Until now, I’ve been printing the book for ten years. Just last year we shifted from bi-annual to quarterly.

Aside from the book, we started doing seminars for mothers. For example we’d gather fifty moms to talk about breastfeeding and the like. I’ve noticed that they would take notes, ask questions so we thought they’d really need information. So when I went to my advertisers, I gave them a little brief background on my pep talks. Incidentally they proposed about me doing events. I was very hesitant at first since I didn’t know anything about staging events. But there was this one multinational company that would place ads in my book if I would do their events. Without battling an eyelash, I immediately said yes. In 2000, our first event was “Mothers in the New Millennium” and it was okay. We had a hundred moms who attended and it was very fulfilling seeing all the mothers that wanted to know all of this information.

I started with the idea that it was only supposed to be a mommy related event until such a time when almost everyone was asking me to do their events. So shortly afterwards I staged my very first corporate event and behold, it was very successful to my surprise. I learned that there really was no difference between the mommy related and non mommy-related event since I did the same things – fixed the logistics, talked with the suppliers and others.

During this time I worked from home. I had no office space and even no computers. So when my husband got home from work, I borrowed his laptop and did the event planning until 2am every day. Four years later, I also began hiring people. Later on, my husband joined me and now, we are a team of ten people.

A Festival Of Moms

Creative Juice, my events company, was born out of passion ten years ago. The company was named after me; my nickname is Juicy. We do all kinds of events – from marathons, doctors’ conferences, Havaianas events and all other non-mom related events. So I rebranded my mommy events and we called it “Mommy Mundo” – the reason being all my events would be in one package. We also do bazaars for moms, advocating promoting product contributors for mothers. There are so many products invented for moms that will make life easier for her; of course, some are more necessary than others. Every year there is something new. Therefore we advocate mompreneurship. Even when moms are at home, they can do something creative and productive. When we started the expo five years ago, there were about ten out of eighty moms; now there are seventy out of eighty. It is about the moms selling their goods.

With all of these work that I do, I balance my time with my family by having a good team – the helpers and the drivers. If not, I can’t do it alone. I also need a support team and my husband fills in the gaps. Second, I have to be organized. I make lists and every day I plan what to do. I know my priorities – my family and children. I sometimes work from home too so I can spend time with my kids. The company is also very near our house so there is no problem with traveling.

One of my business secrets is all about faith. Integrity is another one. It’s really disappointing when there are some people who are not honest. But I just stand my ground and am ethical with my work.

MY MONEY LESSONS

How to Become a Mompreneur

For mothers who have a hard time getting out of their shells, mompreneur Janice Villanueva gives three tips on starting their own businesses – even when at home.

  1. Be realistic. When you are thinking of starting your own business, do an assessment first. How much time do you have? How many choices are made available to you? And then match this with your start up. For example when you have a lot of time and money, go for the gold. If you don’t have that, you can always start small.
  2. Have a network. Now it’s so easy especially with networking sites. It‘s free too. Use Facebook or Multiply. If you don’t know how, catch up on your reading or you can join classes. Educate yourself.
  3. Be positive. During these times it’s easy to get discouraged. Not only with the mundane things such as traffic but with the big ones such as a failed business. When any of these happen, relax and pamper yourself and then just go on. Focus on your purpose so that at least you would be right on track.

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