This small online business is making it work without a Plan B and unaccounted capital

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By Carmen Dulguime

With money saved from working abroad and a simple plan to succeed, this fledgling beverage and baked goods business dares to make waves in this competitive segment.

Sabi nila, pag nag-business ka, wag ka gumawa ng Plan B. It’s like expecting your business to fail at the onset. Basta make your plan work.”

That’s the mindset of Trish Santos, spoken like a true millennial who plunged into a business idea armed only with passion and enthusiasm. She was just having a usual hang-out with her cousins over coffee when the idea to start a business came up. Long story short, 199X Bake & Brew was born on October 25, 2021 to serve homemade and handcrafted coffee, tea and pastries straight from the Santos family’s home.

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The Santos family (from left): Daddy Manny, Mommy Raquel, sis Jaja and Trish

Just like most microentrepreneurs who emerged during the pandemic, Trish does not have any strand of business knowledge and experience running through her veins. She can’t even remember how much money she shelled out at the beginning and doesn’t focus too much on profit. All she knows is that she’s enjoying herself while keeping busy for the next possible opportunity.

“I’m not closing my doors to better opportunities. Pero sa ngayon, nag-e-enjoy pa ako sa ginagawa ko. Siguro pag nagkaroon na ako ng physical store, di na ako maghahanap ulit ng trabaho,” Trish admits.

199X Bake & Brew products

Trish showed no traces of becoming an entrepreneur growing up. At the tender age of 10, she was ice skating as a hobby at a nearby mall with her younger sister Jaja. Later, they would both participate in local and international figure skating competitions. In fact, they represented the Philippines in Bangkok in 2005 and Shenzhen in 2006. Trish alone has collected a total of 52 medals before deciding to coach at the age of 18 for almost eight years.

A graduate of International Studies in De La Salle University, Trish tried her luck in the corporate world. She started in Kidzania Manila, which took her to Doha, Qatar. She later transferred to a furniture company but realized that the job was not what she was meant to have as a long-term career. Before long, Trish found herself heading back home to the loving open arms of her family.

Mommy Raquel loved the idea of putting up the business, saying it would be better since the cousins love bonding and hanging out over coffee anyway. Trish went to work immediately, watching TikTok and YouTube video demos and experimenting on various coffee concoctions. She gathered her family and cousins, presented the various flavors she worked on, and asked them to vote for which blend they liked. From there, she took the money she saved from her work abroad to buy a coffee grinder, some coffee beans sourced from Baguio, essential ingredients, bottles and stickers for her brand label.

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Mommy Raquel’s Tok Tok delivery service helps get the products to customers.

Trish’s supportive parents are also instrumental in getting her started. Sometimes, her parents would pay for equipment she ordered online once they’re delivered. “Pero ngayon na kumikita na ako, naniningil na sila,” Trish laughs.

It helped that Trish and the rest of the family are all coffee lovers. It’s no surprise that she came to love experimenting on a variety of recipes that she feels she could do until the wee hours of the morning. She would get lost in the moment, immersed in the process with all the ingredients spread before her. For the Spanish latte variety, for example, she initially tried using four different types of milk on different kinds of coffee until she got the taste she was aiming for. 

Itong (coffee) beans na to hindi bagay sa ganitong klaseng gatasito kailangan ganito lang yung amount. Kapag trip ko na yung lasa, ipapatikim ko sa kanila (family and cousins) and papapiliin ko sila. Kung ano yung majority, yun yung gagamitin kong measurement,” Trish shares.

Aside from coffee, 199X also offers tea blends. The Cold Blueberry Tea with apple bits is a result of her experiment from scratch. The other non-coffee varieties are Purple Latte (blueberry with milk and lemon) and Spanish Matcha Latte which was inspired by a beverage she had while working in Doha.

Sila Mommy kasi mahilig mag-tea sa gabi so sabi ko, gawa na rin ako ng cold tea in case merong may gusto,” Trish reveals. “Maraming hindi gusto ng matcha. Ako din, hindi din mahilig sa matcha. Pero may nilalagay ako sa Spanish latte para makuha ko yung tamang lasa.”

She plans to enhance her menu with more coffee and tea flavors. Her Mom bakes the pastries that customers are looking for along with the beverages. A physical store is in the horizon, but for now, she’s just having fun doing online business.

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Trish says she can do this beyond midnight, but a girl’s gotta sleep

Nagustuhan ko ginagawa ko. Everytime na may o-order, nae-excite ako and natutuwa akong magtimpla para sa kanila. Nakakapagod, pero masaya. Kaya kong gawin kahit 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. kaso sabi ni Mommy ‘wag na daw,” Trish says.

Trish blends every coffee and tea beverage that goes into each bottle herself upon confirmed order, so the products reach customers fresh. Although she wrote down the recipes, nobody else in the family would dare do it for fear that they might mess up the blend. 

They do, however, help in other ways. Her Mommy Raquel, who is a Mathematics graduate, helps her with costing. Her sister Jaja helps out in taking photographs for the brand’s social media accounts. The cousins and other friends help with the marketing. “Sobra sila mag-promote, grabe,” she says.

Mahirap mag-establish ng brand. Mahirap din mag-try ng bago, so kahit pakonti-konti I do experiments. May mga days na walang orders so ginagamit ko yung days na yon para mag-try ng ibang flavor, mag-promote, mag-edit ng photos, ganon. Kailangan talagang gumalaw,” Trish affirms.

So why the name 199X? “That’s the year of my birth that I don’t want to fully reveal,” Trish admits with amusement.

There may be no Plan B for 199X, but the determination to make it work is clear. The path has already been set, with family support as the one permanent element in the entire venture. 

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The supportive cousins with Mommy Raquel

May nabasa ako dati. Instead of getting a loan, try to save up first because business comes with a lot of risks. If ever di mag-work, at least di doble yung utang. And ‘wag matakot mag-explore. Kahit pagod ka na, basta gusto mo ‘yung ginagawa mo, mag-e-enjoy ka pa din. Dream big, but start small,” Trish concludes.


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About the Writer
beingKirei

Carmen Dulguime, “beingKirei” in her social media accounts, keeps two personal blogsites: beingKirei and Virtual Cubicle. She created these initially for self-expression, but she realized that she can do more with her God-given writing gift. Finding inspiration in Proverbs 31:8 (Speak for those who cannot speak; seek justice for all those on the verge of destruction), she started writing about people she meets and have meaningful conversations with. She found some of their stories need to be told and inspire others. She contributes to NewsFeed 360 on top of working in the editorial department of WSP Inc.. Aside from writing, she tries to learn photography, play ukulele and guitar, and read until she falls asleep.


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