Welcome to the NEWEST section on Dainty Mom, the Mom-Bliss Interviews! Here, I feature awesome readers of this blog, who are motivated moms from around the globe! From business owners to bloggers, this feature is meant to inspire you to create your own bliss, a life that works for you. Since it’s Breastfeeding Month here in the Philippines, today, my guests are two awesome mompreneurs who have been a beacon to many breastfeeding mothers. Please welcome Janice Villanueva and Candice Yaw, the team behind the fabulous maternity and nursing wear brand, Mommy Matters.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourselves as moms.
Candice: Even as I work at home, I still find that I still don’t spend as much time with my daughter as I originally thought I could. However, I try to make sure I spend at least a few minutes or an hour in the day with her for play. I am sort of hands-on mom… I just want to show her that I am always there for her and I just want to make sure she is still having fun learning and it is not a chore. I try to parent with intention although sometimes, I forget and go on auto-pilot. My style has evolved and still evolving… [My daughter] responds more to constant gentle corrections, rewards, and showing her by example what she needs to do.
Janice: I’m a mom of 3 kids, with their ages ranging from 6years to 15 years of age. Having seen my eldest son grow up from a tiny baby to a teen who’s now taller than I am: it really all happens in a snap. So my husband and I try to savor every moment with our kids, even amidst the hustle and bustle of life. My schedule is always very busy, but since I’m a “business-mom,” I am able to still plan my schedule to make sure I’ll always have time for the kids and keep them as my priority.
Besides being there for them for their daily needs, school activities, and the like, what I find important is making sure I have connecting moments with each child at least every week. I make it a point to have personal bonding time with each child- whether it be a one on one conversation about what’s going on in their lives, concerns, anything they want to talk about, or even light moments like playing games or just fooling around… Through these moments, we are able to have a real parent-child relationship, establish mutual respect and appreciation for each other, keep communication lines open, and as a parent, I’m able to check on their values, if they are on track in terms of goals they have set, their relationships with their peers, and just let them know their dad and I are there for them.
2. How did Mommy Matters begin? What were the steps you took to give birth to this biz?
Candice: Mommy Matters was the brainchild of Janice. She was given some nursing clothes from the USA by her sister while she was breastfeeding her second son, and she found it very convenient and discreet to nursing in that she thought this might be a nice business to get into if she can make it more affordable for more Filipina moms to enjoy. She couldn’t work on the idea right away as she was busy with her full time work and in breastfeeding her newborn.
When her son weaned, she found some time in her hands and so she started the ball rolling. At this time, I had just resigned from my investment banking job and was itching to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. While on a merienda meet-up, Janice told me of her plans and I noticed that I was getting excited about the whole project myself and decided to join her. Coming from the finance industry, the first thing I needed to make sure we had was a business plan.
The market study was very rough. At that time, we didn’t know many breastfeeding mothers. Well, I didn’t know any and I think Janice knew a few friends who did. There was no breastfeeding community to speak of as there is now … Shortly thereafter, we realized we also needed to help create our market because organically, it didn’t feel like there was any growth. We thought we’d help it along by creating events that bring awareness to breastfeeding and hopefully, these moms would see the benefits of using our nursingwear when they breastfeed.
Janice: It was serendipitous that Candy and I had that merienda date wherein she decided to partner with me and form Mommy Matters. If that didnt happen, I guess Mommy Matters would not be existing today. Candy and I grew up together… learning the ropes of entrepreneurship from our parents and grandparents. I’d say that since we were young, even as playmates, we really compliment each other not only in terms of knowledge and skills (Candy’s expertise is in finance and production while mine is in marketing) but our personalities (she is very structured and calm while I’m more emotionally-driven).
We created Mommy Matters and unknowingly (or maybe knowingly) helped initiate the strengthening of the breastfeeding advocacy here in Manila.
Today, more than 10 years later, it really fills our hearts seeing so many moms already committed to breastfeeding their babies, and moreso when we see them wearing our clothes and using our products. At the heart of our business is an advocacy for breastfeeding that now extends to active motherhood, and even if the business is sometimes challenging, this advocacy is what gets us going.
3. What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned as business owners.
Candice: It is important to have a vision/mission for your business. It shouldn’t just be all about money. When the challenges come, it is the only thing that gets you to keep on going. Also, it is important to always review your direction, your goals and strategies every so often at least every year. You must always try to find ways to innovate to improve your product offering or your service to your customer. What is important is to learn from the mis-steps or mistakes then apply your learnings moving forward.
Janice: First: it is important to always keep your ears to the ground, meaning, to continuously study the market and the industry you’re in, for trends, innovations and insights… With new insights we have adjusted not only our designs but also the way we market our brand, the way we communicate to them, and the extra step services we try to offer. It is vital to be customer-centered which is why we offer services like our fit-at-home service, where we go to the moms if they cannot come to us.
Secondly, we must also keep our feet on the ground. No matter what success we have achieved or how much positive feedback or accolades you garner throughout the years, you should never rest on your laurels, there is always room for improvement, there is always still a market that is unserved or underserved. Now with the internet, there are new technologies to be learned translating to new and innovative ways to reach and touch your customers.
4. What tips can you give to other moms out there who’d like to start their own businesses?
- Going to business is not always smooth sailing. Usually you will encounter rough moments early on. Have a vision/mission for your business, as this is the only thing that will help you get through tough times and inspire/urge you to continue working on the business when challenges come your way.
- Don’t enter a business just for the money. It is not necessarily a must that your business must be something you love or are interested in but it will surely make work not feel like work most of the time. Don’t enter a business just for the money. It has to be more than that.
- If possible, choose a business you are passionate about. Because once you have passion for something, it is not only easier to work but it is easier to do the hard work. The inspiration and drive is there even when challenges come. When you “sell” your business or talk about your business, other people will see the passion in your eyes and this passion is infectious making your “sales talk” 100x more effective, even lethal!
- Secondly, make sure you have a good support group. For me it is a MUST for your husband to be supportive because the business will most probably take away time from the family, or might need some financing from the family, or will most probably overlap with the home operations. Having a supportive husband will be a big push for you not only emotionally but also logistically.
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/mommymatters