SM Mompreneurs and their Recipes for Success

[L-R] Wilda Wuthrich Usi of Sue's Cake Gallery SM City Iloilo; Mia Robles-Ng of Breakthrough SM City Iloilo; Windy Ongsingco of Señorita de Bacolod SM City Bacolod; [Below] Dana Marie Dizon of Sabie Bakes SM City Puerto Princesa

Mompreneur, or “momtrepreneurs,” is a slang term describing women who run their own businesses while also acting as full-time parents, thus the word is the combination of “mom” and “entrepreneur”.

Not all heroes wear a cape, some wears an apron and prepares delicious recipes in the kitchen. And so goes these Mompreneurs who run successful businesses in SM malls in Iloilo, Bacolod, and Puerto Princesa.

This Mother’s Day, these strong women are highlighted and honored for their exemplary role in raising their families and tend to their own businesses and still manage to do it with flying colors.

Let us get to know their secret recipes for success.

WINDY ONGSINGCO
Señorita de Bacolod
SM City Bacolod

This business of bringing nostalgic moments through classic and freshly made artisanal Negrense desserts is carefully guarded by Windy Ongsingco of Señorita de Bacolod.

This is to ensure to keep their family’s culinary legacy while providing livelihood to their team in these trying times. And driven by the goal to be a key contributor to the local baking industry’s desire, in keeping the distinction of Bacolod as the Dessert Capital of the Philippines.

Windy Ongsingco of Señorita de Bacolod SM City Bacolod

While there are successes, there are challenges in the business.  “It was mostly on the operational side of things, like for example on how we have to train our team to prepare our goodies the traditional way, while practicing the safety standards considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic,” shares Mrs. Ongsingco

“ We were able to cope up with the challenges by making sound financial decisions while focusing on our core strengths. We also expanded our Señorita line by adding flavored fillings while reaching out to our fans all over Bacolod by opening new outlets for their convenience, she added.

 Windy quips that deciding to partner with SM was a no-brainer for their small business. As the premier mall operator in the Philippines, it allows them to hasten their growth by expanding their brand’s reach. “Observing how SM manages its mall operations is also similar to how I manage life as a mother cum entrepreneur. May it be offering the general public and my family unparalleled service, good food, and genuine care.”

When asked what SM has imparted to Señorita de Bacolod, she gladly replied: “You have to keep your brand promise by working hard to keep the loyalty of your fans while taking good care of your people through both the good and tough times.”

When Ms. Windy’s son was growing up, she was very hands-on in the way she took care of him. When he became a teenager, she was more than willing to give him the freedom to allow him to make decisions for himself. “It was good in a way since it hastened his maturity and I feel lucky that he enjoys helping out our business prosper”, she says.

“An ideal Mother should be someone who is able to gain the respect of not only her husband, son or any family member but of the persons as well.”

We could not agree more Señorita de Bacolod.

MIA ROBLES-NG
Breakthrough Restaurant
SM City Iloilo

When in Iloilo, trying the delicious cuisine of the place is a must. Breakthrough Restaurant is a go-to place and as they say, you haven’t been to Iloilo if you haven’t gone to this place.

Mia Robles-Ng is the new generation handling this business of good-tasting Ilonggo cuisine to the Ilonggos as well as local and international tourists.

Mia Robles-Ng of Breakthrough SM City Iloilo

“Breakthrough Restaurant is a brainchild of my parents, Munding & Daday Robles. Both UP Diliman graduates – BS Marine Bio & Hotel and Restaurant Management respectively. 

It started as a small – carinderia like turo-turo style “eatery” with simply home-cooked food and off-the-grill seafood. Mr. Robles was not a fan of advertising before, he didn’t pay for any ad. Where Breakthrough is now is a result of hard work, “pag-amuma” sa customer, fresh food and just word of mouth from our patrons and friends.” shares Mia

She says that before her parents ventured into a restaurant, Mr. Robles was into fish culture/fish farming business and her mother was an HRM graduate–they decided to “join forces” and so Breakthrough Restaurant was born. Pioneering in the Sinugba nga Managat, the delicious fish was presumed as pest before, but Mr. Robles as a fish enthusiast knows that the meat of the Managat is really tasty. 

Mia reveals that partnering with SM is a value-added factor, “it helped us reach more customers, the SM goers. Since Ilonggos really love SM.”

As the business grew, Mia and her family made sure that their employees are part of its growth, they made sure that their welfare is also taken care of – “It feels nice to give livelihood to people too, to give them a job and earn. Now we have scholarship programs for exceptional children of our employees. “

Adapting to the new normal is also a challenge, but with their business experience, Mia made sure that they cope with the situation — “It’s our first take in delivery service. Honestly, our food is best-eaten dine-in and or fresh off the grill, but we really have to adapt to this pandemic.” 

Mia revealed that they used different mediums like telemarketing and social media, to remind people that they are still in business. “One good thing also is that our employees as willing to multi-task – the waiters before are delivery riders now.’, Mia adds

Mia Robles-Ng says that SM has been really generous with their discounted rates on rentals. “It really helped us cope during this time.”

If there are things to learn with this whole experience, Mia has this to say—“Social media is key now, everyone’s on their phones. whatever they see interesting, looking yummy they will try. they will buy. but for them to be repeat customers, you have to really make a promise, that your product is good. that “ay kanamit gd man! i will eat this again! i will let all my family taste this”. Don’t just be instagramable! you have to have something that will make them call you again or come back to you again. Also…. that we have to live with this new normal, its ok to go out. to eat out! -as long as we follow health and safety protocols. We have to thrive again! Support Local also so we can help others thrive in our community. 

Perhaps, continuing the success of Breakthrough Restaurant can be attributed to Mia’s mindset of motherhood—“As a mother, sometimes i think I am at my best, and sometimes I feel I am not good enough. I always want the best for my kids.  Motherhood is a journey, I haven’t mastered it and that I need to be kind to myself too. To remind myself to trust my instincts and just “you do you”.

Breakthrough, being the home of delicious Ilonggo specialties Mia also has this to say of being an ideal mom– “A mother is a home – where you feel safe and loved. Nurturing, encouraging and where you can be yourself.”

DANA MARIE DIZON
Sabie Bakes
SM City Puerto Princesa

“Aside from having unconditional love, someone who is the best cheerleader but also knows how to be tough when it is needed is what makes an ideal mother” This statement from Ms. Dana Marie Dizon of Sabie Bakes in SM City Puerto Princesa, adds a sprinkle of love to their designer cakes, cupcakes, and pastries.

 Dana says that her motivation in business is her kids. Coincidentally, Sabie Bakes, which also serves home-style comfort food, started when she had Sabie. “During that time, I had plans to go back to my previous job but God had other plans for me and my family.” 

Dana Marie Dizon of Sabie Bakes SM City Puerto Princesa

This mompreneur is living proof to the title as she shares that she had to balance her schedule for baking and tending to Sabie’s needs.

When she was starting the business she said that she lacked confidence and was not sure if what she was making was good enough. “I studied more and learned. I never stop pushing myself to be a better baker and artist.  I also had a great support system. My husband and family were there to lend a hand with my supervision.  Breastfeeding, of course, was something I could not delegate.”

According to Ms. Dana, SM played a major role as the business flourished—“It has opened doors for Sabie Bakes. A lot of people have gotten to know us through our store in SM.”

SM City Puerto Princesa is a defining factor in Dana’s role both as an entrepreneur and a mother—“ I would not have thought I will open a store in SM, moreover, be a mom and open a business. This endeavor has allowed me to be a mother and also manage and create.”

SM has also imparted to Sabie Bakes the importance of branding.  Dana says it is important to believe in your product and what it stands for.  A brand does not stop in the product itself but the person behind it and how it is made.

It seems that Dana’s supermom attributes have been an important ingredient for the good tasting offerings of Sabie Bakes and also the upbringing of her children—“I recognize my kids’ differences and adjust to what they need.  I could be the think tank that my son needs for his daily hundred questions. I could also be my daughter’s coloring and crafts partner when she likes to do art.  I am flexible, I push and support their possibilities as individuals. I recognize my imperfections and I work hard to be better and be the best mom I could be.”

WILDA WUTHRICH USI
Sue’s Cake Gallery
SM City Iloilo

 “Motherhood, though challenging, is the most fulfilling thing for me. My family has always been my top priority, despite the demands of being an Entrepreneur. There is no substitute for “time” spent with them and for them. I make sure I am “present” in all the things that matter most to them, big and small it may be,” shares Ms. Wilda Wutrich Usi of Sue’s Cake Gallery in SM City Iloilo.

Sue’s Cake Gallery is a household name in Iloilo, the brand is synonymous with delicious and great-tasting cakes that are top of mind for every occasion.

Wilda Wuthrich Usi of Sue’s Cake Gallery SM City Iloilo

“I always say that having this business has been providential. It was God’s way of being faithful to those who have been faithful to Him,” Wilda shares.The cakeshop was an acquired business from its original owners in 2011. She reveals that she was their only personal choice to pass on the business to because they recognized the creative side of her which comes from her Swiss blood.  “I am a CPA, but at that time, I was engaged in my home-based handcrafted accessories business. That is how they saw my gift for artistry.”

Ms.Wilda shares that she was drawn to this kind of business where her passion for the arts can be expressed in something enjoyable by other people. Hence, she came up with their tag line: “We put a smile on every occasion”, knowing that cakes are always part of the centerpiece of life’s every special milestone and occasion.

“Before SM, our first shop was a mix of a party shop and a cake shop but with limited cakes to go offering. SM Iloilo was the first mall that gave us a big opportunity to launch a new concept of having cake & coffee shop, cakes to go, and customized cakes, all in one store, “ says Wilda.

Sue’s Cake Gallery has long been known as a leading customized cake provider in Iloilo City but they were not accessible to all walks of life in their original store. “Opening a totally new concept where we offered dine-in of cakes and pastries and served gourmet coffee, consumers started to see us in a new light.”

Ms. Wilda added, “The reprieve and revision on our lease payment have greatly helped us survive the monthly overhead expenses. SM City Iloilo was also very understanding as we strike a balance between keeping our operations running and taking care of the health and welfare of our employees. SM City Iloilo also spearheaded some innovative ways to reach out to shoppers online and we also enrolled in their delivery services since some consumers are still uncomfortable going to the mall.”

Customers looked forward to tasting the new flavors and seeing the trendy designs that they offer every now and then, with the wide and diverse kinds of artisan cakes and pastries that they have.  Moreover, the interior design of the cakeshop with a Southern rustic feel to it, makes them feel like it’s a second home.

Ms. Wilda gladly shares her successful partnership with the mall, “SM City Iloilo is comprised of highly professional individuals who would listen to the needs of their tenants and act on these needs accordingly. Everything is organized and efficient.”

Partnering with a mall-like SM City Iloilo is highly advantageous to local SMEs. We all know that SM City Iloilo has high consumer traffic. As such, we get the necessary exposure to our target shoppers. It’s like an Advertisement already,  being in SM City, she added.

Having debuted in SM City with their new concept has created a significant awareness to the public on their brand. “We feel that we have earned the trust and respect of the consumers by being in SM City. In a short span of time, we received many offers to open a similar store in their businesses, not just in Iloilo City, but in other parts of the country as well,” Wilda shares.  True enough, they were able to open 3 more stores in Iloilo City after SM City. They have also attracted a lot of businessmen wanting to franchise their cakeshop. Even suppliers started to notice them.

The success of the business did not only benefit the family but their staff as well. The continuous growth of the business has made my employees feel secure and stable with their jobs. I am able to give them more benefits and perks that have uplifted their status. I believe that people are the greatest assets of any business enterprise. So as the business grows, I also take pride in knowing that my employees feel proud of being my employees as I have seen their lot in life improved.”

Faced with challenges brought about by the pandemic, they immediately implemented strict company protocols from their commissary to their delivery staff to their store staff. “Even before the face shields became mandatory, our staff were already complete in their protective gear when we re-opened after the temporary closure.” They also streamlined their product lines and production costs. “We took the opportunity to develop new product lines that are affordable. We also aligned our employees in a win-win arrangement that would both benefit them and the company, just so both parties can continue to survive. We implemented flexible working arrangements with them.”, Ms. Wilda added. She believes that they have to innovate and so they focused on Marketing especially on social media by posting our product offerings and promotions.

As an SME and a local entrepreneur, Ms. Wilda shares her top 3 valuable learnings from the pandemic that really had a great impact on their operations.

1.    Re-start with the mindset of starting a new business and not continuing the existing business. This helped us a lot especially in eliminating the paradigm of what we used to do in the past and the resources available to us then. Having a fresh mindset was able to make us focus on the things we need to prioritize based on the present situation. It was difficult at first but it worked to our advantage in the long run.

2.    Clear focus on what we need to accomplish. In our Business Continuity Plan, we are looking at this time until December to “just survive”. Meaning to just get the operations humming and making changes to adapt to the new normal. After which, we will re-assess our business condition at the start of 2021 and make the necessary adjustments and possible hard calls and decisions if so warranted. 

3.    Prepare for the future. They say that Preparation is Key. There is no other time this adage is truer than now. I need to prepare my business to be resilient to withstand the impact of future crises, intensifying online platform, building a sort of financial resiliency in order to achieve business continuity

Believing that motherhood does not come with a manual or a handbook that we can just read about and know what to do in every phase of our children’s lives, Ms. Wilda’s belief that a mother’s love will always be consistent and unconditional perhaps is one of the recipes that makes Sue’s Cake Gallery stand out from the rest.

“As a mother, I have embraced the meaning of selfless love early on.  Two years into motherhood, I quit my promising career as the Accounting Manager of SM Affiliates and gave my time and attention to my special child, Francine, who was diagnosed to have cerebral palsy and autism. With two more children after her, Abby and EJ, I have learned how to manage and balance my time, making sure that my spiritual life and physical well-being are not neglected in any way. I want to give the best of myself to my children, not what is left of me at the end of a tiring day.  I am not pesky when it comes to the academic achievements of my children as I believe that what is more important is that they grow with the proper moral values and strong faith in God. Seeing them become responsible members of the society is enough reward for all the sacrifices I have made.”

Ms. Wilda Wuthrich Usi looks up to her own mother as she has been her brightest light in her darkest moments, her greatest supporter in all my endeavors, and her best friend through thick and thin. “She is the most reliable and constant thing in my life, especially when I feel lost.  Her love has made me strive to become the best version of myself and this is also what I aspire my children to become.”

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