Papemelroti, founded by Benny and Corit Alejandro in 1968, is arguably the poster child for family businesses in the country. The evidence is in the name: it’s based on the first syllables of the couple’s children, namely, Patsy Paterno, Peggy Pilapil-Lasa, Meldy Fider, Robert Alejandro, and Tina Alejandro.
In over four decades, the Alejandros have built a loyal following among people with a fondness for arts and crafts as well as trinkets, keepsakes, décor, and furniture. From its pioneer store that opened in 1976 in Ali Mall, a landmark establishment in Cubao, Quezon City, Papemelroti has expanded to 15 branches located all over Metro Manila and in neighboring provinces. Papemelroti has also found ways to advocate green living through its products in recent years.
When the Alejandro children were younger, they would sit around the table and make figurines out of clay, relates Corit. Patsy remembers that she started working for the family biz when she was 11. The kids joined Papemelroti in an official capacity when they turned adults. “At first, they didn’t really like to go in the business because they wanted to pursue their own careers,” says Corit of her children. But since all of them had an artistic bent and designing skills, being part of Papemelroti was inevitable for them, she says.
Nowadays, every Alejandro family member has a specific role aside from designing products, shares Patsy, who oversees Papemelroti’s finances, marketing and products. Peggy handles human resources, while Meldy is responsible for store design and renovation. Robert, who’s a broadcast journalist and artist, contributes in product design, while Tina is in charge of store displays, as well as the website management and Internet orders. Their dad, Benny, is president and is busy with developing new product lines. Mom Corit serves as vice president and is in charge of the factory. She also still makes Papemelroti’s signature wreaths and other decorative items.
The secret to Papemelroti’s success and longevity in business, says Corit, is a combination of craftsmanship, passion, and divine providence. “Some of the things that happens in the business,you just have to rely on God.” It also doesn’t hurt that making art is almost like breathing to them.“My husband, even though he is 85, still likes working on new things,” she shares.