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Parvati: Making sweet business with home-bakers

Now, you can now sell your home-baked products in a mall
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The concept behind new dessert store Parvati is the kind of idea that makes you smack your head and wonder out loud, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” Located at the Mindanao Lobby of TriNoma Mall in Quezon City, this quaint, well-lit dessert haven is the fi rst to bring together under one roof some of the best selling goods from the metro’s home bakers.

Business owners and high school friends Joanne Tan, Paul Tan, Ian Cheng, Jeffrey Go and Richard Uy were already entrepreneurs in their own right when they thought of helping their home-baker friends create more traction in the market. Joanne, a home-baker herself, understood the unique challenges they faced.

“We usually just sell at bazaars around December. Then after the Christmas season, lean months na for us,” explains Joanne. Believing there is strength in numbers, the group thought of building a permanent store where talented, but obscure, home bakers could regularly sell their goods.

The arrangement would be similar to a tiangge: Joanne and her friends would own the store, they would charge home bakers a fee for space in the store, and they would get a commission for every unit sold.

In August 2009, the group started sharing their idea to potential “renters.” They visited bazaars around the city and trawled online social networking sites looking for home-bakers who had great tasting desserts and were interested in their idea. The group organized a taste-testing event in November 2009 that brought together home bakers and hundreds of potential customers. Fifty home bakers showcased 250 different products, evaluated by about 600 people who were invited to the event through Facebook. In the end, 51 desserts from 30 home bakers passed muster.

At that point, Joanne and her friends had already signed an agreement with TriNoma to open Parvati there. The owners poured in P3 million of their own savings as starting capital and after a month of construction, Parvati opened on May 1, 2010.

The focal point of the store is one wall that has been fitted with refrigerators and drawers, which are covered with big stickers of the home-baked desserts. This is the owners’ way of addressing the issue of providing equal exposure to all the goods they carry.

“We have a lot of home bakers, and we charge them the same placement fee whether their products are on the top or bottom shelf,” explains Joanne. So to be fair, the stickers of the desserts are moved every month, giving each sweet treat enough time on an eye-level shelf space.

Another challenge posed by Parvati’s out-of-the-box concept was the monitoring of inventory. “At the end of every day, we have to give each home baker an inventory report of their own desserts, and then at the end of every month, we have to release paychecks to them,” says Joanne.

For this challenge, the five friends turned to the professionals: they hired a firm that specializes in developing point-of-sale (POS) systems to design one that is customized for Parvati. What’s more, the owners take care of each baker: They watch out for the bottom 10 sellers based on daily inventory reports, and then make it a point to push those desserts the next day.

By the time Parvati welcomed its first Christmas season, the five owners had already recouped their initial investment. And now they’re looking towards expansion.

“We’re still open to accepting more home bakers, especially the ones who are just starting their business,” says Joanne.

To be a part of the store, a home baker must bring a minimum of 10 servings of each type of dessert to Parvati. These are then offered to customers for a free taste, along with a comment card. Products are rated based on taste, appearance and affordability. If a dessert receives less than two negative comments, it is accepted into Parvati.

For more information about Parvati you can visit them at Trinoma Mall, EDSA cor. North Triangle, Quezon City. You can also call them at (02)901-1428 or send them an email at the.parvati@the-parvati.com.

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This article was published in the April 2011 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines.

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