Nine years ago, allergist Denise Gonzales-Bernardo and Monica Eleazar-Manzano started a small company that produced natural and organic baby care products. Featured on Homegrown.ph in 2013, price what started as a bazaar business has now become a well-known local brand.
Start Up Lessons
Despite being around for almost a decade, Denise confesses that she often still feels like a start up, and it usually takes a moment’s reflection to realize how far they have come and how things have changed. “It comes with age,” she says.
The trick to being successful start up is learning the lessons your business teaches you.
“The hardest lesson was knowing how to differentiate between just doing things for the heck of it and really realizing that this is my life passion. This is not a joke anymore. Numbers are important, targets are important, and they all need to be looked at… Really owning my brand was another lesson… Not sacrificing my values for profit… Those are tough lessons to learn.”
Like all start up owners, Denise knows that the most important part is to keep at it, and to measure success in steps. “The fact that you are able to make it through all the payments, pay all the bills, pay all the people, that’s something.”
Success, no matter how it’s measured, has definitely come knocking. In 2015 Indigobaby was nominated for the first PLDT SMART BetheBoss Awards. In collaboration with Rappler.com, the awards were meant to shed light on and honor outstanding small to medium businesses.
“Being nominated for BetheBoss was a major ‘Wow, thank you!’” says Denise, who admitted that upon arriving at the airport for the Silicon Valley trip she and the rest of the nominees won as a prize, she felt out of place. “I felt like I was amidst all these big players,” she laughs. “It was such an honor to be nominated and to go on that adventure.”
The trip, which Denise describes as “such an eye-opener,” helped her realize how far her brand has come and how much can still be done. “I came back with all these ideas,” she shares, talking about how being in Silicon Valley gave her more fuel to expand and grow. “I’ve already done a collaboration with Sonja Ocampo.” (Cupcakes by Sonja, and fellow BetheBoss nominee).
Going to Silicon Valley also helped her see other aspects needed for start up growth. “It really helps to have contacts,” she says. “Keep your network open. Really connect… It really helps to constantly put yourself out there and to always look for new ways and new places to be available.”
A Decade Strong
Though your start up can take over your life, you do have a life beyond your start up, and living that life is healthy for you and the business. One of the secrets to Indigobaby’s steadiness is their ability to accept and be forgiving of themselves, and to keep in mind that the goal isn’t always and shouldn’t always be ‘money in the bank.’
Denise reveals that sometimes she looks at her goals from a year before and realizes they weren’t achieved, but that’s okay because she believes in growing organically and pacing it. “I don’t need to be so hard on myself,” she says. “It’s a work in progress… Success for me is knowing that I am helping other moms… It’s about touching lives. It’s about helping people. It’s about making parenthood a bit easier.”