For the sake of special needs-daughter, couple makes bold business detour
CHICAGO—Like thousands of small-business owners, Filipino American couple Michele and Andrew “Andy” Rivera are struggling to survive the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The couple is used to challenges. Andy used to be a medical doctor while Michele, was a pharmacist. When their 13-year-old daughter, Misha, was born, she was diagnosed with special needs. It was a moment of decision for Andy and Michele.
They left their medical careers and founded Misha Media Photography, a business that gave them the flexibility and the time to care of their daughter. They got lucky, and their venture made a name in the community. For a dozen years, it became their main source of income.
Then came Covid-19. The danger and the restrictions that came with it readily manifested in their photography business which thrived on weddings, debutant and graduation balls and other social events.
Again, the couple found themselves facing another challenge. Business dried up with the banning of social gatherings. What to do? Innovate.
Andy and Michele readily found a niche in the needs created by the pandemic. Custom-made masks with “My E Three” brand were born (3 E’s for Empower. Enlighten. Encourage are inspiring words for the dark days of the pandemic.)
Production is in Quezon City, creating jobs for 10 workers there. Marketing, sales and distribution in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, are handled by six people. Growth is expected as they diversify. Designer T-shirts, neck gaiters and the like are in the pipeline.
According to the Today Show’s review, My E Three “sells neck gaiters, which can be worn as a headband, scarf or face covering, made from breathable polyester microfiber that is soft on the skin and wind-resistant.” It sells for $18.
The Riveras were among six Filipino business couples recognized by the White House during Filipino American History Month in October. Their citation noted that for every mask they sell, the Riveras donate a mask to a Filipino charity or non-profit in the U.S.
At least 1,000 masks were given to underprivileged persons and health workers in the Philippines. “We are proud to be Filipino Americans, and giving back to our community is one of the ways to pay respect to our Filipino roots and heritage,” Michele said.
In anticipation of the winding down of the lockdowns as vaccines are administered, they are also looking forward to resuming their wedding and events photography operation, Misha Media Photography.
Meanwhile, they are focused on their lifestyle and wellness-inspired brand that sells active wear products for women and men. It is also where Michele shares her fitness journey. The couple feels that their career changes are worth it. Their lovely daughter clearly savors the care and love she gets from her amazing parents.
Visit www.MyEThree.com to select other patterned masks, which come with a pocket. There is a Philippines collection of masks, which includes the Gold Sampaguita Face Mask, the Intramuros Mask, the Batok Tatak Mask, and the Philippine Floral Face Mask which are each available for $20.