INDIGO MANILA BABY PRODUCTS
By Dulce Castillo-Morales. Photos by Walter Villa
Bosom buddies Monica Eleazar and Denise Gonzales conceived their business in 2007 when each was heavy with her first child. Both wanting to be full-time mothers, they had earlier decided to leave their respective corporate jobs.
"We talked and realized that we didn't want to work for somebody else forever," Eleazar recalls. "We didn't like the idea of having only two months of maternity leave and of leaving our babies with complete strangers. So we figured that we should start doing something that we love to do. We decided to start a small business with a few products."
Pooling P100,000 each in initial capital, the two best friends since college put up Indigo Baby in October of 2007 to make specialty products for babies and mothers. They made as pilot products 300 pieces of nappy clutches, 100 pieces of reversible nursing bibs, and 400 pieces of all-natural bed-and-bath products.
Gonzales says that they initially wanted to launch their business during a bazaar at the Rockwell Mall in Makati City that year, but something developed while they were waiting for the bazaar's scheduled opening. "We posted photos of our products online at Multiply.com and we received a lot of feedback and orders," she recalls.
As it turned out, the bulk of their sales were to come from online transactions. Indeed, their online business was so brisk that in less than a year, the partners had already recovered their initial capital.
"On a good day, we would make P5,000 to P8,000," Gonzales says. "The lowest we have gotten so far is about P1,000. And there's still a lot of potential because we haven't really done PR yet; it's been all through word of mouth."
Although they have kept Indigo Baby home-based, Eleazar and Gonzales have since taken their online business to a higher level. Officially pursuing Indigo Baby as a dotcom business, they launched an international website for it last year, Indigobabyshop.com. This enabled them to serve the needs of international clients who also wanted to buy and resell their products.
Indigobabyshop.com now has wholesale buyers in Singapore and Malaysia, so the partners recently put up P250,000 in additional capital to meet the growing demand. They now also have a full-time staff to help them in soliciting and in shipping orders, and each has also hired a yaya (nanny) for her baby, who is now a toddler. "Unlike when they were still babies when we could just carry them around, they run around a lot this time. So although we remain hands-on mothers, we need extra pairs of hands to care for them," explains Eleazar.
Despite its brisk online sales, Indigo Baby has since been also participating in several bazaars held in Metro Manila. The partners say that setting up booths or stalls in bazaars gives then the opportunity to have face-to-face interaction with their customers and to talk to them about the various Indigo Baby products.
Gonzales says that Indigo Baby products sell well because they have been tried, tested, and used by their very own babies, Santi and Benny, who both turned two years old last October when Indigo Baby celebrated its second anniversary. For instance, Gonzales says, they have included such essential oils as lavender and chamomile in their product offerings because Eleazar's son used to suffer from colic, and Eleazar had found lavender and chamomile to be effective homeopathic remedies.
"Since we are both mothers, we know what we need for our kids," Gonzales explains. "For instance, dengue is rampant, and because we are afraid that our babies might contract dengue, we came up with our own baby massage products."
Indeed, Indigo Baby now has diversified into a considerable range of baby-care products as well as a growing number of mother-care products, to which the partners will soon be adding a "Yummy Mommy" line consisting of facial care and hair care products.
And this is not all. Eleazar and Gonzales, joined this time by another college friend of theirs, Jeri Carillo, recently further diversified by putting up a wedding events company, Manila Wedding Bees (www.manilaweddingbees.multiply.com) .