Creating Mermaid Island: How I Went from Being Jobless to Becoming My Own Boss in Just One Year

Me: “Babe, gusto kong gumawa ng sariling cosmetic and skincare line.”

Babe: “Anong unique sa gagawin mo?”

Me: “Natural and organic ingredients.”

Babe: “Meron ng ganyan. Ano pa ang difference mo sa mga existing brands?”

Me: “<Thinks deeply..> Hmm.. MERMAID?!”

This was our conversation way back in September 2017.

You see, life after work wasn’t easy. I thought I had a plan, but my plans weren’t working so well for me after I resigned.

I left my fancy and glorious corporate job (that I love very much by the way) after working there for five years last March 2017.

My Mom just passed away, our family business has been teetering on the brink of closing down, I have no savings, and it felt as if my life is falling apart.

It was the lowest point of my life, and I still have to keep things altogether.

I mustered all my guts to work on my shoe brand, Versaheel.

It’s the second brand I’ve put up after my now defunct brand Pomppet, which I started back in college.

I had a new concept, new strategies, a business partner, new connections, new everything. But after months of working on my designs, and learning the craft, for some reason, I still can’t manage to increase my sales.

I invested so much, I lost so much too.

One September night, I stumbled upon an episode of “My Puhunan”. It’s a show that features success stories of businesses, focusing on how they were able to scale up from such a small capital.

I got so inspired by the mother-daughter tandem – the team behind the featured local cosmetic and skincare brand.

It got me thinking on the possibility of creating my own too. Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive to share it to my then-fiance, now-husband.

Who am I to create another pitch, when I haven’t gained anything yet from my current brand.

Sure, the brand and marketing are amazing, but at the end of the day, numbers speak. And these, I don’t have.

Hence, the conversation atop this blog.

And after saying, “Mermaid!” he replied

“Hindi sapat yon!”

So, I shrugged the idea off, anyway I was planning our civil wedding back then. It ought to keep me distracted from the rejection and frustration of the brand, not generating sales.

Come 2019, shortly after our wedding, I found out I was pregnant!

My mind suddenly went into frenzy. I thought about getting back to work again, because I knew I have to contribute to our expenses.

John and I are starting a family, and we have to prepare for birth, and of course me, on finding a way on how to always be physically present, since I wanted and decided to breastfeed.

I needed a job at home. Or rather, I need to be able to earn while at home.

Since I cannot go to the shoe factory all the time, given by my delicate condition. As I was usually left all alone in the condominium, it gave me a lot of time to think on what I should do.

I applied as a home-based English teacher. I got into the first screening, but I failed my phone practical test. My proctor said I was a bit bossy and a little aggressive for an online tutor.

Haha That IS me, right there! Trained more than 15,000 Real Estate Agents, what does she expect? 😀

And then Mermaid Island, the idea I was exploring back in 2017 dawned on me again.

I talked to John, and he said,

“Hindi mo gagawin yan Babe. Tatamarin ka lang. Andami ng makeup sa market. Masasayang lang pera mo.”

But I was so determined, I secretly enrolled myself to a course behind his back. I even had to borrow money from my sister!

The more he said I can’t do it, the more I wanted to do it. I want to prove him wrong, or rather I want to prove to myself that I can make a brand work.

Creating Mermaid Island was also not easy for me as a blogger. I knew that when I create my own line, I have to say goodbye to some cosmetics and skin care sponsorships.

It made me hesitate, but I was inspired by Anne Curtis’ BLK Cosmetics and Vice Ganda’s Vice Cosmetics.

Their celebrity statuses are a big leverage for them, and I admire how they focused on creating their own lines, not minding the possibilities of endorsement opportunities from other more well-known brands.

I have to make this big step. For my son, for our family, and of course for myself.

I started with one product alone. After selling my ONLY 60 pieces of stocks in just a day, I reinvested them again to more raw materials.

I didn’t even blink on the thought of spending a centavo on a celebratory gift for myself. All profit goes back to the business. I have to make it grow.

Instead of focusing on marketing in the early stage of the business, I focused on product development. I learned that you don’t have to sell a product, when a product can already sell itself in the first place.

Ultimately, you have to create a product that sells.

I had so many inhibitions in Versaheel, so with Mermaid Island, I was not afraid to be risky. I have already lost so much, how much more can I lose?

In terms of ideas, I was also very raunchy.

Mermaid Island should not just be any other brand. I took the lessons I learned from working in the Marketing Department, and applied them here.

From the concept, graphics ,to the names, to its voice, and even its font styles should communicate the vision I have in mind.

It was a one-man team, sometimes two, when John was not busy with work.

I did a lot of trials before perfecting formulations.

Sometimes I cannot repeat the same shade because I lack equipment and appropriate measuring devices. There were a lot of wasted raw materials and containers too.

It was pretty messy and colorful at the same time. I remembered staining my clothes and the floor. Sometimes, it was difficult for me to reach the oven to heat the waxes because my tummy was already big at 6 months.

I also replaced defective products, because you know, reputation means a lot especially when you’re just starting out.

I can recall that I am measuring my success by my ability to refill my box of raw materials. I once had them in a small PR box I got from a sponsor.

Fast forward to today, I have a whole room full of waxes, oils, extracts and actives, etc.

I have my staff who helps me with production. From the little table I once had, we now have a laboratory. We also have physical stores now, and upcoming bazaars.

I can’t believe these all just started last year. What mermazing journey it has been!

See, everything just comes to fruition when you dedicate your time, effort, and skills to a dream, and of course lots and lots of good marketing strategies. Which I think will come by experience.

A keen eye and humility to discern and admit that there can be room for growth wouldn’t hurt either.

After all, everything starts with a good idea. It’s your call whether you want your good to stay good, or to be great.

PS.

Just finished our first Trendsetter’s Bazaar last weekend!

So excited for our next this coming September 27 to 29, at SM Megamall Megatrade Hall C.

Sea you!

Your Mermaid Miss,

Via

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Not a cistern, but the sea; and may possibly own a larger hippocampus than most Neanderthals.

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