A Love Note to Entrepreneurs

Saw this going around the internet… just had to repost this. This is the mantra also for StartUp Babies, aKids’Life Enterprises, my family and personal life. May you be inspired too!

a love note to entrepreneurs

aKids’Life – Table and Chairs GRACIE collection

Here’s the latest project I just finished for aKids’Life Furniture. This OC mom wanted a play/study table with a large work area and plenty of storage space. Here are some pictures of the GRACIE Elementary Table and Chairs that we designed and built for her.

GRACIE line

GRACIE Table and Chairs

storage under the chair

storage, storage and more storage under the table!

storage, storage and more storage under the table!

detachable arm chairs - let this piece of furniture also grow along with your little ones

detachable arm chairs – let this piece of furniture also grow along with your little ones

rounded edges for safety, white duco finish using non-toxic child-safe paint

rounded edges for safety, white duco finish using non-toxic child-safe paint

items under the table and uber cute doggy -- not included! :)

items under the table and uber cute doggy — not included! 🙂

I name all the furniture projects that I have because I believe that every furniture should have a story to tell. This is called the GRACIE collection because of my current fave song in my playlist. It’s a song by Ben Folds about a father and his precious daughter, named GRACIE. The lines in the song that strikes me the most are: “One day you’re gonna want to go, I hope we taught you everything you need to know, Gracie girl”. Here’s the link to this very touching video that will surely make you go awww… 🙂

For my client, thank you for trusting us with this key piece of furniture in your home. I hope that this table and chair grows with you and your family. May you teach your daughter her lessons in school with this study table, make lots of art projects, draw inspiration, paint pictures and etch many memories with this wooden table.

You can view my other projects here or visit my FB page here. Thanks! 🙂

Listful vs. Listless

My husband recently asked and followed me up on new entries on my blog.  Shows you just how very remiss I am with my blogging! 😉 Frankly, I was quite surprised that Papa Bear was diligently checking my blog… aww how sweet, right? 😉 One of the few random things about him that still surpise me. 😀 So, what’s keeping me busy… here are some samples of my gazillion to-do lists. Seriously, do these lists ever end?

StartUp Mom

1.) Buy Gerber Graduates for snack time during school – Baby Bears’ current fave munchies.

2.) Books to read for July (Dr. Seuss theme) – Green Eggs & Ham and Oh, The Places You’ll Go

3.) Print out and laminate words of daily objects and stick it around her room – This is to let her associate that there is a corresponding word for every object. (I’m copying this teaching concept from her school) 😉

4.) Select pictures for the birthday album – The photographer already following me up on this — yikes! 😦

5.) Buy VTech Bath Friends Turtle Toy – Right now, she is into standing up everytime during bath time which is a bit dangerous. We are experimenting with toys that will get her attention and make her want to sit down.

6.)Purchase Milk Bags for My Yummy Mummy – She has been so generous in sharing her breast milk with Baby Bear. I truly appreciate this very generous and noble gesture. The least I can do is to replace her milk bags right? 😉

7.) Set up play dates for Baby Bear – This super shy baby needs to interact more and get out her super shy shell.

8.) Enroll her again in Gymboree or Kindermusik – I’m leaning more towards Gymboree because I want to recoup my annual membership fee LOL. Maybe i’ll shift her to Kindermusik when her membership expires. Only problem is the Kindermusik classes are starting this August already… decisions, decisions! 😛

9.) Continue playing the 30 Days to Hands on Play Challenge – I got stuck with the water play activity. Still thinking of how to execute the challenge without making too much of a mess. The OC in me is prohibiting me from moving forward LOL.

StartUp Wife

1.) Book Tears for Fears Live in Manila – We missed the last show and we are not missing this one again!

2.) Cook or bake for Papa Bear – As they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This doesn’t change even if you’ve been married for how many years already.

3.) Family Health Insurance Plan – This post by Topaz Mommy got me seriously thinking about what the best health plan is for The Bear Family. Health is very important and one of the most expensive costs and I agree with Topaz Mommy that we should start looking for a plan that would help us with our growing family. So far, I’ve kind of narrowed it down to the following: Caritas Health Shield, MEDICard, PhilCare, MaxiCare, and IntelliCare. Incidentally I received The Medical City Family Privilege Card in the mail but I have absolutely know idea what the card is for. Don’t you hate it that not even a letter came with the card? They could’ve explained to me what the card was for, right? Anyway, do let me know if you can recommend a good family health plan or if you have any feedbacks regarding the institutions I have mentioned above.

4.) Complaint letter to Gymboree Shang – This totally deserves another post but basically my Baby Bear got sick for 3 weeks so she missed her classes. We asked for make-up classes and even presented a doctor’s certificate stating that she was really indeed sick. Plus, they are supposedly the only teaching establishment that allows make-up classes… and they do! I used to go to Gymboree Rockwell before they closed and they were very lenient when it came to make-up classes. As long as I just called in advance to let them know, they would allow the make-up class. Besides, shouldn’t they be happy that I am being responsible in not bringing my kid to school so that I don’t spread any viruses to the other kids? It’s my pet peeve when I see parents bringing their kids to school just because they don’t want the kid to be cooped up in the house or just because it’s a waste of tuition. I think this should be an unspoken rule amongst parents. You know how hard it is to nurse a sick child so you should prevent others from sharing the same fate. ‘Nuf Said!

5.) Buy 2 cooling racks for the kitchen oven – Long overdue wish list. Lack of cooling racks is my excuse for the many foibled brownie or upside down cake attempts LOL 😀

StartUp Biz:

1.) Post finished projects pics for aKids’Life Furniture – Excited to have completed projects, praying for good ‘word-of-mouth’ and hoping for new projects and referrals.

2.) Trying to produce current P.O.s and preparing for the Christmas season – Sourcing packaging, packages, and labels and finalizing products — still a tall order!

3.) Company and Brand Web site – At this day and age who still doesn’t have a web site right? 😉

4.) Social Media Campaign – Cooking up someting… in the works… ongoing… wait for it… 😉

5.) Marketing Consultancy – Recently met with a very inspiring social entrepreneur. Haven’t worked out the kinks yet so I don’t want to jinx it. So far we haven’t had the best of luck with getting around to meeting and hashing out the details… hopefully soon! 🙂

StartUp Self

1.) Catch up on my book reading list – Can’t wait to get my hands on some new books via The Book Depository.

2.) Update this blog more often – Sorry I’ve been so remiss with the blog lately. Thank you Papa Bear for encouraging me to write again.

3.) Exercise??? – Hardest thing for me to do as I’ve become a couch potato. Thanks to the advent of fast tv and movie downloads.

4.) Sleep early – Again, another hard feat to do — this time, blame it on Twitter!

5.) Spa dates, Facials and High Tea at the Manila Peninsula Hotel with friends – Sanity breaks! Need I say more? 😉

6.) Take good pictures and finally print them – Nothing tugs at the heart strings more than looking back at those memories that we made and making sure that we always remember and treasure them.

7.) Plan a trip abroad… with mom – It’s been quite awhile since I last went out of the country or out of town with Momma. Must plan some serious R&R with mother. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone!

8.) Beautify… inside and out! – We have started regularly going to mass again and we want to start praying with Baby Bear before going to bed at night. After all, the family that prays together, stays together! For the external beauty project, Papa Bear is bringing me some cool beauty products home from Korea tomorrow. Excited to start my new beauty regimen. Here’s to hoping for a way to reverse skin aging hahaha.

There are so many other different lists that I still have in my notebook. Grocery lists, potential businesses, mp3s to download, videos to watch, sights to see, bucket lists, things to do… I don’t think our lists will ever end. There are some days that you just want to wing it without the list… but now that we have Baby Bear this is a bit hard to do — but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s either this chaotic LISTFUL world vs. a LISTLESS world without Baby Bear. No pun intended! 🙂

Busy As A Bee

I haven’t been playing the 30 Days to Hands on Play Challenge for the past 3 days as I’ve had a busy week. Here’s what’s been keeping me busy as a bee:

  • I attended my first Parent’s Orientation for Baby Bears’ school. Her first day starts on Monday. I am one excited Momma Bear. She gets her own lunch bag that is so cool… it is insulated to keep the food warm plus her name is embroidered in front — talk about customized! 😉
  • My mom recently had her executive check-up and she needed to have a Gastroscopy and Endoscopy. I went with her this morning and I’m so glad she passed with flying colors!
  • I had a new client this week for my furniture shop. I blogged about this baby business of mine here. She had me customize an armoire for her 3-year-old daughter. She wanted a wardrobe cabinet that would “grow” with her daughter through the years. It’s really so dainty. Will post pics when the project is finished!
  • For my other business, we are close to sealing a deal with a supplier. I am excited to work with them for our Christmas Gift Items. Yes, you read that right, Christmas! We start this early just to prepare for that oh so, busy season.
  • Baby Bear is finishing up her Gymboree classes. She’s enrolled in Music and Play and Learn 3 🙂
  • Looking around for that illusive perfect Fathers’ Day Gift for Papa Bear… I have an idea what to get him but I haven’t squeezed in time to go to the mall to buy his gift. I don’t usually cram when it comes to getting him a present but I’ve really had quite a full week.

No, I am not abandoning the Hands on Play Challenge. I haven’t had time to read on and set up the new challenges. For now, Baby Bear has been repeating the past challenges —  so it’s okay, practice makes perfect, right? 😉 I will definitely pick up on where I left off on the challenges soon. For those who are taking on the challenge, you can subscribe to http://handsonaswegrow.com/ so that you can still get updated with the daily challenge.

Advance Happy Fathers’ Day to you, your fathers, grandfathers and or/your husbands. May you have a special celebration with your families.

Signing off for the weekend now… Ta-ta! 🙂

29 Ways to Stay Creative

I saw this somewhere in the internet a couple of months ago and would like to share it with you guys. I would love to give credit to the person who made this but unfortunately it was anonymous. Give me a shout-out if you own this material. Thank you for this… it has given me the push during the days I feel bored with my work. I look at this on days when I feel stuck in a rut, my mind draws a blank or creativity hits a dead-end. Thanks for the inspiration!

Stay Creative!

The Best Way to Predict Your Future is to Create It

The title of my blog is a quote from an unknown author. It is such a powerful statement that applies to all aspects of our lives. In my case, it applies to my different personas as a StartUp Mom, StartUp SelfStartUp Wife and StartUp Biz person. As a SAHWM, it is our dream to be able to kick-off more than one of our gazillion ideas and turn it into a successful home business. If my stint in the corporate world has taught me anything, it is our job in the Marketing department to address white space opportunities in the market by coming up with a product that serves an unadressed need, or simply, creating a want that wasn’t there to be wanted for in the first place. In short, we are meant to be magicians — drawing tricks up our sleeves and pulling out rabbits out of empty hats. Tall order, if I may say so.

As I blogged about before here, it is quite difficult to turn the wheels of motion for your projects vs. doing it in a corporate set-up. I have been so used to handling insanely large amounts of support and moolah when launching a product before, that now, stripped of all those wealth of resources, I feel vulnerable and very insecure with launching my ideas. It is also quite scary because the business landscape has changed so much with the internet and social media.

My focus these days has been my StartUp Biz. There are days when everything just seems so daunting. There is an overwhelming pressure to succeed… probably to justify why I left the corporate rat race and to reinforce the need to work-at-home in order to keep a better eye and take a more hands-on approach to the development of Baby Bear. My past blog entries have more been about the home and Baby Bear, which reflects that I haven’t been doing a good job of separating my business and personal life. Truly a weakness that I need to address. I plan to post more about my StartUp Biz projects and hopefully I get to nourish these ideas to life also.

It’s time to start creating the future. Here are a few details about our plans.

  1. Our StartUp Biz has the vision of helping people live better for less by offering unique and value-laden products
  2. We want to reach out to a new generation of shoppers.
  3. Our products will also be used by our family (The Bear Family), as I don’t believe in selling products that I don’t personally use or would not give as gifts.
  4. In conjunction to #3, we will also not sell “useless” products. It is my pet peeve to have products at home that do not serve any value in any way whatsoever. Waste not, want not!
  5. It is still my dream to pay it forward and to leave a legacy. I hope that my business/es will be able to touch a lot of lives and may they enhance our personal lives as well.

As I write this, I still feel very small… but I know that my passion and belief will help me go and grow. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the past 2 years managing the different personas that I need to be, we can’t be all that we want to at once and we can’t try to be all things to all people. We should concentrate and focus. Promise only what you can deliver, but try to deliver more than what you have promised.

With this, I hope to blog and tweet more about my business life. I hope you can help me on this specific journey of mine which comes close to my heart as well. 🙂

Birthday Sentiments

It is the day after my birthday. I’m about to approach the __th marker. I don’t feel old but at the same time I do. There are a lot of things that I want to do with my life and I am rarin’ to get a go at it… but this lifetimes seems too short to finish and do everything that I want to.

Looking back, I don’t know if I’ve achieved a lot already during the first quarter of my life. I sometimes feel as if I’m too lazy to shorten my list of things to do. Some say, I have way too many things that I want to do in my life that’s not humaly possible… but if I don’t do it this lifetime… when do I? We’ll never know if I can do all that I want to… but hey, I have to try right? 🙂

For this year, the following are my birthday vows. I hope to achieve them this year so that I can shorten my life’s to-do list.

HEALTH

1.) Run at least once a week

2.) Take walks after dinner with the hubby everyday

3.) Be in bed before 1AM; wake up by 8AM; wake up by 9AM for weekends

INTELLECT

1.)  Read one magazine per week

2.) Finish a book per month

3.) Learn to read and write Business Mandarin

4.) Learn about SEO for blogging 🙂

MARKETING

1.) Commercial surf every Sunday

2.) Write more often to practice copy writing skills

3.) Read marketing and fiction literary works

PROJECT MOO

1.) Jump start my business agian this year (must get my head out off maternity leave mode)

2.) Look into the following businesses for next year (Project Woodstock, Project Squeaky, Project Twilight, Project Eat)

3.)  Store check at least once a month

4.) Surf about what’s hot around the globe every quarter

EMOTIONAL

1.) Be a good daughter – be more patient and visit mom at least once a month

2.) Be a good wifey – fight less, be more understanding, spice up love live 😉

3.) Be a good mommy – focus on helping Baby Bear with her developmental milestones

4.) Print ’em pictures!

5.) Cook something at least once a month

6.) Take at least one local trip and one trip abroad every year (stop living vicariously through others)

SPIRITUAL

1.) Pray every night before going to bed

2.) Go to mass every Sunday

BEAUTY

1.) Take a more active attitude towards physical look

2.) Brush hair everyday 😛

3.) Throw out clothes that belonged to me when I was still a teenager

4.) Buy at least once clothing article or accessory every month

5.) Start applying lip gloss with color 😛

6.) Apply moisturizer and eye protect every night

If you’ll notice there are a lot of things to do under beauty… this isn’t because I am vain but because this is the area where I don’t pay that much attention to. Maybe next time, I can graduate to wearing light make-up. All part of the grand plan of becoming a zillionnaire with attitude… and beauty to boot! Yebaa! 🙂

Happy Birthday to me!!!

Signing off…

The Birthday Girl 🙂

Sneak Peek!

One of my baby businesses is about to launch and I would like share with you some of the excitement I am feeling. Here are some teaser pictures. I hope they tickle your fancy!

Cabinet Dresser PENELOPE Collection - customized to meet the exacting needs of an OC momma 🙂

Bedside Shelf KAYLA Collection - for those important items you need easy access to... but don't know where to place 🙂

Safety Gate MATTEO Collection - customized design for another OC client 🙂

Let me know what you guys think. Your honest feedback is most welcome!

Do let me know what other furnitures you’d also love to have in your own nursery. 🙂

Projects List

I am a list nazi. I feel that my life has order when it has a list attached to it. If you’ve seen the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It“, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, it shows you how lists can give a semblance of organization to an otherwise chaotic life. Like SJP, I have a mental list, a written list, a computerized one too… and post-its galore! Sometimes there are just way too many projects and way too many lists so there should be a “mother-of-all” lists. I have a personal to-do list that is separate from my home list and business Projects List.  For this post, I will share some stuff about my business Projects Lists.

One of the many valuable things that I learned from my corporate stint is to always have a Projects List. We even had a Global Projects Management Seminar that we were all required to attend. The backbone of any succesful launch is this Projects List that we all go back to. It serves as the document that distributes accountability and reinforces responsibility. The list enables the breaking down of tasks into pieces in order to manage it well. There is a logical sequencing of tasks that helps us to determine the priority and urgency in order to finish a project in stages.

For instance, a project that I am currently working on are product line extensions. I have a cologne and alcohol line now that is not yet nationally distributed but our current customers are already asking for new product lines. In going about this, all products that were qualified during brainstorming will now be pitched into the ideation stage. For this, there is an ideation success criteria that once approved, will move on to development, commercialization, and launch stage. For the ideas that didn’t make it to the cut, they are all placed in a “Backburner” list.  Maybe the timing isn’t right for these ideas or R&D can’t deliver, or maybe the investment or risk is too big to invest in it… in short, they are simply not doable now… but who’s to say they are not great ideas that might be launched at a later time? 🙂

When you make your list, always keep the end in mind. What are your goals and what are the things that you need to do to reach them. Write down your tasks. A tip that I got from business school is to state it with a VERB first. For instance, EMAIL R&D regarding product registration update. The verbs that we see serves as a CALL TO ACTION that immediately tells us what to do at first glance. This column is basically the To-Do section.  For each idea, an action step has to be highlighted.  Next, each person has to “own” their responsibility towards making each project come to life.  And what about all the notes you’ve been taking down?  This is where the reference column comes in. Place any project-related handouts, notes, minutes, web sites, and any other related documents that you may need to refer to as the project progresses. Other stuff not needed or not yet needed can be placed in the Backburner Items, as stated above.

Lastly, edit,edit, edit!!! Go back to your list every once in a while. Tick off the things you’ve finished, scrap out the dead-end materials and always rewrite your list. It helps you focus, puts you on track and more importantly, it simplifies! It also helps you to remember what you need to do constantly, that it sometimes comes out in the form of a nagging reminder voice inside your head. LOL 😀

We do what we can to make our projects come to life. We all have different methods of doing so. Personally, I am a fan of writing it down and having folders per project. I know we live in a paperless society, but for me, this what makes me move. Seeing those papers and sticky notes makes me annoyed at the clutter and makes me want to clean it out by getting a go at them. Buy those techni-colored folders and binders if you have to… whatever gets your creative juices running… and running fast! If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years and how many failed ideas is that once you have a great idea you have to act on it fast! Always remember that if you were able to come up with a certain idea — somewhere out there, someone is also thinking about it. It’s a matter of who can get it to market first and market it right!

I will post a sample projects list that I am currently working on… as soon as I figure out how to attach files on my posts. 😛 Post sample Projects List on startupbabies blog — now included in my personal Projects List! 🙂

My Third Alterego: StartUp SAHWM

I came from the corporate world. After 5 years of Brand Marketing Management, I have taken my corporate hat off to become a Stay-At-Home-Working-Mom.  It also means multi-tasking, all-around team all rolled into one person. There are days when I miss the corporate life. I miss having a team of highly talented people to brainstorm with, accomplish projects, meetings and yes, even those dreary presentations. I miss having ground-breaking market research that enables you to make better decisions. I miss having millions to spend on advertising and promotion. With no moolah in hand, I have to do everything myself for our business – background market research, crunching the numbers, product testing, packaging development, training, and yes, even delivering our own goods to the store. What I miss the most though, is the human connection. It sometimes feels lonely to eat lunch and to have that afternoon cup of coffee by your lonesome self and to not have anyone to talk to about work… or even chitchat about your life! Those are the worst days!

It took me 2 years to finally start-up. Product ideas took the longest time to develop. If it takes around 6 months to a year to properly launch a product in the corporate world, think about doing it by yourself with no resources whatsoever. As in any other company, thinking of a good idea is the hardest task especially now that almost everything is already out in the market. Most ideas never happen because somewhere along the way, there are so many obstacles. A visionary may have thought up that great idea but without a well thought-out plan and masterful execution, that idea flops. As an entrepreneur, I find that the most powerful obstacle to pushing through with an idea is actually yourself! Being discouraged when you bounce your ideas to other people and getting a lot of negative feedbacks raises a lot of confidence issues about the projects and self! That doesn’t mean we should stop talking to other people about our ideas though, that only means that it’s either there were some points that we didn’t see clearly (tunnel vision) or maybe we really do need to can that idea and move on to the next one on the list. Other times, I get sucked into the idea warp especially when I am “passionate” about something, my judgment gets clouded. During the times that I am gungho on a certain project or idea, I tend to lose myself and I have to remind myself to step back and see if I’m still on the right path. For this, I am glad that I have a business-minded husband who never fails to give me his honest opinion, very creative friends who helps me spice it up and a very patient support group who always listens to my one thousand and one ideas that may or may not be silly, doable or even probable.

The other things I learned along the way that enabled me to launch different projects related to the home and the business:

– No matter how many ideas you have, always be organized enough to make a list. Put a single-minded focus on one item on the list, do what you can to make it work and if it doesn’t, just move on.

– Don’t tackle too many ideas in one go, sometimes that’s what makes you rattled and lose focus. Prioritize! Put the other good ideas that you have on a backburner. Carry a notebook for all your lists, ideas, and backburner stuff. After all, you’ll never know when inspiration will strike! 🙂

– If you are able to qualify an idea, give it a roadmap as to where you want to take it. Always keep the ball rolling. As with all SAHM or SAHWM, the common obstacle for working hard are distractions that comes in the form of household chores, shopping, online addiction, the kids and other matters. A colleague of mine once taught me that even if you feel “lazy” to work on your project, make sure you make 1 little step everyday to help move the project along.

– For every action step, list, organize, decide, and execute with passion. Ideas without passion or purpose lose that personal oomph that makes it a winner product. Don’t launch products or ideas just because!!! Everything should have meaning to it. If not, it is only waste and further clutter. We should all create truly meaningful things. After all, at the end of the day, your output is a reflection of who you are.

Starting Up really is hard work! I admire people with rags-to-riches stories, am truly inspired by the humble beginnings of other people and greatly respect the small entities who battle out Goliath companies daily. I am so excited to make it happen for me too.  I can’t wait to make my own ideas pan out, grow the company, fulfill a sense of accomplishment and purpose and leave my own mark and long-lasting legacy too — after all, ain’t that the best gift we can ever give to our kids? 🙂