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Bathing in Success: From employees to entrepreneurs

Two entrepreneurs started making natural soaps as a hobby. Customers liked their products, so they quit their jobs and set up their own business.
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Marge Gabat and Ana Gutierrez took advantage of consumers’ increasing demand for natural products and started producing bath and body lotions, balms and massage oils. Now they have regular customers including spas and salons. They’re looking forward to making more products and gaining more business.

Gabat, a philosophy graduate, started making lip balm as a hobby in February 2003. She spent P2,500 to make 50 jars of lip balm, and in three days her fellow workers at a call center in Libis, Quezon City, had bought all of it.

“It was a hit,” she says. “They then asked me if I could make soaps and lotions.” She turned to books, magazines, and the Internet for research. She used the yellow pages to find suppliers.

Operating from her kitchen, she was soon making and selling creams, lotions, and foot and hand spa kits made from olive and essential oils, honey, milk, herbs and spices. In November 2003 she left her job to concentrate on her business. She then put up Mapga Trading with the brand name Home Spa.

Her officemates helped her promote her products. Libis is home to many spas and salons, so it wasn’t long before these too started buying her soaps and lotions by the liter and gallon. She put a mark-up of 60 to 70 percent on her hand and foot baths (P480 a liter and up) and cuticle softeners (P3,840 a liter).

To sell more, she started giving 20 percent discounts to spas and salons retailing her products. Lynnie Aruiza, owner of Gloss Designer Nails, orders foot and hand spa products worth P2,000 to P5,000 from Home Spa each month. She earns P5,000 selling them in her salon.

Gabat comes up with new variants every quarter and accepts orders for wedding giveaways and presents. “I just want to be a great small bath and body shop,” she says. “I’d like to have my own place.”

Page 2: How a lip balm changed the life of Ana Gutierrez


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