Filipina entrepreneurs huddle in New York
NEW YORK – The first-ever Fil-Am Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum in New York took place on April 27 at the Philippine Center, hosted by the Philippine Consulate.
Aspiring Filipina entrepreneurs met and networked with inspiring Filipinas who have grown their businesses in design, events, social media, beauty products and dental services on-demand start-ups.
Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate said that New York has a huge market where “with the right product and the right effort, success is just around the corner.”
The Forum’s resource speaker Diana Franco, director of WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs), explained that WE NYC was created to address the entrepreneurship gender gap by offering a set of specialized business services to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. She delineated some of the curated programs that the organization offers to women entrepreneurs to connect them with available resources, education, and community.
Through WEConnect, women entrepreneurs are introduced to established professionals through mentoring, networking events, and the digital portal.
The WEMaster program helps women connect with credit-building services, coach them on capital planning, preparing loan applications and managing debt, as well as build their leadership skills.
The WEFund platform helps them access affordable capital either through crowdfunding or from local lending institutions. Through WE Legal, women receive legal advice from NYC’s top firms on a variety of crucial topics.
The panel discussion moderated by Ledy Almadin of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce New York (PACC NY) featured four successful Filipino American women entrepreneurs: Carla Caramat, CEO and Co-Founder of Dentist on Demand; Ivie Joy, CEO and Founder of Ivie Joy Floral + Events; MallyRoncal, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Mally Beauty; and Jeanne Grey, CEO and Founder of GreyLayers.
Mally said that “timing is everything,” recalling her decision to start her own makeup line after feeling the toll of the demands of being a celebrity makeup artist and with people constantly asking her “how do you make that look?”
She admitted that she was not the best makeup artist, but she knows that “I could do makeup, I can communicate what I know, I can sell something like nobody’s business, and I can speak from my heart.” She pitched her products to QVC, a broadcast TV home shopping channel network, and her products were completely sold out in 36 minutes.
Ivie Joy was working as a production assistant and designer at a floral shop and realized that her floral designs were being sold at weddings. This gave her the idea that “if her designs are making money for these people, then it should give her the level of confidence that she can do it on her own.”
Speaking about managing her capital which started at $2,000, she had to “choose the right people to work with and maintain good relations with owners of floral shops, vendors and clients she had worked with to deliver the highest quality of product.”
Jeanne, who was convinced by her family to pursue nursing, said she decided to find an outlet through blogging and social media. Remembering her first campaign paid her $10, Jeanne realized that blogging and social media could be something big. So GreyLayers.com came into being. It became one of the most influential blogs in the East Coast, amassing 180K+ Instagram fans and international blog subscribers.
Carla, who has been in the dentistry field for over two decades, said that in 2012 she was fortunate to have worked with one of the founders who championed and sponsored her idea of starting Dentist on Demand in New York.
From a start-up perspective, she asked herself “What value can I bring having a new business model?” She further added that “I needed to step back and look into what market can we tap into, making the product or services unique that can cater to the needs of the community.”
A networking event attended by more than 100 participants immediately followed after the program. The guest entrepreneurs’ products were also on display at the Philippine Center Gallery lobby.