Name: Sarah Marie Gurbuxani-Carpio
Nickname: Sarah, Seruh Gee
Name of Business: Sofish, Inc.
I am a wife to Dencio, a mother to Sophie, saved by God at 18, singer, volunteer teacher, interior decorator wanna-be, community manager, tenacious entrepreneur and so much more on the side! (=
- What kept you busy before you became a Mompreneur?
I used to do freelance work as a Community and Social Media Manager for Tickled Media’s websites such as The Asian Parent Philippines, Kidlander, and PregnantSG
- What made you decide to become a Mompreneur and start your own business?
I’ve always adored Mompreneurs and following their path would give me so much bliss! But the motivation wasn’t enough for me to get into a business. It was when I resigned from Tickled Media (when a big chunk of income was lost) that I sought my husband’s advice and help whether opening an online store could help us achieve the financial freedom we once enjoyed. So to be candid about it, it was out of necessity that I (we) finally decided to take the plunge.
- Tell us about your business, what is it about?
It was on June 02, 2014 when we launched Sofish, Inc. Our store offers quality food products from our province, Bataan.
- How did you start your business?
Initially, we wanted to just focus on selling marine products from Bataan because it’s what Bataan’s known for. As a peninsula, it is rich in various sea produce and offering these products is really, a no-brainer. Also, another factor that we considered why we opted to sell seafood products is that my mother works as an Aquaculturist from BFAR who (modesty aside) is the go-to person in terms of marine products. She has been helping and teaching women in Bataan to process seafood goods and helping fishermen manage their fishing villages. Thus, when we entered into this business, we already knew where to go and what products that really excel. We just call and ask mom! (=
But now, we are offering wide varieties of products from Bataan. Aside from Amanda’s Marine Products and Araro Cookies, just recently, we launched the very delicious Willy’s Cashew Butter. We will introduce more products this 2015!
- How do you promote your business and how do you find your target market?
Through research, I found out that one of our products is Kris Aquino’s favorite. She has been posting about Amanda’s Bagoong on her Instagram account and I used that as our product’s leverage. Many of first-time customers would call because they saw our product on TV or on her IG. As an experienced Community and Social Media Manager, I really took advantage of using the Internet to promote our store. I design banners, logo and posters to attract clients and have different promotions. At first, customers came because of these marketing strategies, but after 7 months, we already have regulars and resellers. Thank God!
- What challenges do you have in your business?
Because products are coming from different parts of Bataan, transporting on a regular basis has been a challenge for us. Thankfully, many of our customers and resellers understand when delays arise, if there’s any. Another challenge is how we can reach a bigger market because we are used into targeting social media users. Our plan is to expand our market, thus we are looking into joining bazaars and exporting opportunities.
- What are you the most proud of in terms of your business?
We are proud that we are helping our fellow Bataenos. When we visited Amanda’s factory last July, we saw who the workers are. It was at 6pm and raining hard when we saw a group of people processing and working on our order. They are from poor families who get to have livelihood because of the products we sell. And that was an eye-opener for us. We realized how important it is that we promote and sell our products. And though it was owned by one person, a community is actually benefiting from it. And since then, it has been our vision: to help families in Bataan.
The same goes with Willy’s Cashew Butter’s owners. They are a small family from Morong Bataan who until now doesn’t have a commercial oven to use. They are still using the humble wood oven when making their delicious cashew nut butter. (= It’s such a delight to be helping these families. We are proud to be “watering” our “roots”.
We also take pride in helping friends who became our resellers. One of our resellers Ate Windee Balsamo, who, because of her determination, closed a great deal. We sold 1,600 bottles last December, praise the Lord!
People who would message us and tell how much they love our products and our service also give us a badge of honor. As a starting entrepreneurs, for more than 7 months in the business, we are proud that we still do not have negative feedback.
- What are your future plans for your business?
We are planning to launch our very own line of food products- but still, of course, tatak Bataan! We are also planning to penetrate not only a greater portion of the local market, but mainly, to promote our products globally. With some inquiries from willing partners who are interested to have a joint venture with us, we know it is possible!
- How do you manage your time between your business and your family?
I learned that business is now our way of life. When my husband and I talk, we usually talk about our business and how we can grow together in it. The only line that we drew to separate business from our family time is the time we spent on the Internet to promote our products and talk to our customers. Also, to maximize time and our fuel consumption, whenever we go out, we see to it that we bring along some of our products. So if there are customers, we can deliver the products to them.
- What advice can you give to fellow Moms who are thinking of becoming a Mompreneur?
Before anything else, pray and seek for God’s approval. I remembered that as I was resigning from Tickled Media and was too anxious what our life can be, I prayed and opened the Bible. I was led to Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” I decided that that was the push I needed.
Have a clear vision where you want to go. In our case, we want to make a living by helping other people. This may not be our initial intention, but as our business grows, we cannot help but look into the bigger picture and see the grand scheme of things. When your business has a sense of purpose, profit will just be an icing on the cake. Never lose sight of your vision.
If you’re married, make sure that your husband knows what you’re getting into. The money that you may lose in the capital is nothing compared to the time you lose in your business. Involve your spouse by letting him know where you spend your time. Because as a starting entrepreneur, the last thing you’d like to hear is your husband complaining that you no longer have time for your family.
Disapproval from people is normal. And like motherhood, you’d be hearing a lot of unsolicited advice from people about parenting your “business”. Absorb what you can but do not steep into the criticisms too well.
Be confident in the things you know but be humble enough to learn new things. As an entrepreneur who means to do serious business, always open your mind to ideas: both old and new. Read as much as you can and attend seminars, because you wouldn’t know how these things can greatly influence how you manage your business.
Lastly, decide whether you will take the business that is a one-day hit or the business that lasts. If you choose the latter, never mistaken quantity for quality. At the end of the day, your customers will be looking for the service and products you offer them. It’s good to aspire for big bulk of orders, but if it would mean compromising the quality of your products, never mind. To last, make your product the best in the market, even if you are still serving a small margin of the community. When you consistently produce great products with exemplary customer service, orders will come, your market will definitely grow.
EMAIL ADDRESS: SOFISHINC@GMAIL.COM
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/SofishInc