Filipino Housewife, Entrepreneur & Unique Filipino Items |INTERVIEW|
How are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am doing pretty well. Thank you for asking. I’m a Filipina that after working in the Middle East for 7 years, decided that it’s time for me to settle here in the Netherlands with my Dutch boyfriend. That finally happened last 2016. From a corporate employee, I am now a proud full-time housewife taking care of our home and 3 kids. Since I always have that thirst to earn my own, I opened a webshop.
Tell us about your business?
Kahoy.nl was formerly known as DIT wil je hebben. It sells handmade wood products from Benguet made by our Ifugao friends and locally made bags from a small community in Bohol. Aside from wood products that can be used in the kitchen and living room, it also sells unique Filipino items like sungka, carabao style bowl, carabao horns and Lechon trays.
What are the values that guide your business?
Honesty and integrity are core values. There was a time when someone told me that it is better to have a different invoice with a lower amount of products to show to the customs so I don’t need to pay bigger tax duties. It sounds nice and cheaper but I said no. At the end of the day, a business that starts from fraud will always have bad karma floating around it.
How do you believe we can support small Filipino communities and business better?
Buy their products and promote them. If you have a capital, resell the products but directly buy it from those small entrepreneurs. The craftsmanship of Filipinos are unlimited and the products are extraordinary.
Kahoy was in a trade fair event here in the Netherlands last March and the feedback from other nationalities was “ heel mooi (very beautiful)”, “bijzonder (extraordinary)”. They were really impressed.
What does it take to start a business?
Passion and uniqueness. There might be more than 10 entrepreneurs selling wood products, but what will make you stand out is the uniqueness of your product.
What do you look forward to most?
To be able to sustain the importing of these products and to have more suppliers where Kahoy can buy from. Because of this, Kahoy will be able to help those small communities that make pure Filipino products. Wood carving is a small dying industry in the province of Benguet and there are more small communities or entrepreneurs that just started their handmade products like bags and flip-flops. All were made with quality. So every cent spent on their products helps the preservation of the wood industry and will give those small communities a living.
What does the Filipino Community mean to you?
It makes me feel like I’m home. My boyfriend asked me “why is it that you Filipinos, wherever you go when you see your fellow countryman, you immediately connect and seems like you know each other already for quite some time”. I say it is because Filipinos are always warm, we are always on the go to lend a helping hand or just simply put a smile on someone else’s face. It also shows how patriotic we are.
What do you miss most about the Philippines?
My family, the home-made food, eating using your hands while your other leg is up (don’t know how to explain that properly sorry), the never-ending “chikahan” and laughter even when you’re just going around the circles, the afternoon nap under the mango tree, the enjoyment of just being together even when you’re just eating mango with salt or boiled saba. The simple life.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Still a housewife but with bigger webshop of Filipino products that sells all-over Europe.
Any advice you want to give to other entrepreneurs? Don’t be afraid to start from scratch. You have to start somewhere anyway. Find the right people to help you, don’t be afraid to ask for it and be fair to them. Kahoy just started January this year so it still has a long way to reach its main goal. Kahoy is receiving genuine help from other Filipino entrepreneurs here in the Netherlands as well like Rowena of Toko4all, Bernadette of Zen Drenthe and Rhea of Red en Company. Filipinos will always help but we should also not take full advantage of it. They will help you so help them too and don’t mess that up.
Be fully determined. Don’t give up easily. Selling products are not an easy earner as selling services. The first years might be hard but it will reach its goal in the end. And when you’re there, keep it and take care of it.