8 Great Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs from Hello MNL

They have no intimidating technology, huge machinery, and spacious warehouses and production facilities to work with. Armed with just the gumption to earn something out of their pure talent and skills, a group of young Filipino startup owners are carving their own niche in a market shackled in consumerism.

Thanks to Hello MNL Store – owned and managed by 32-year old mommy entrepreneur Des Ong – these homegrown brands found a home where they can sell their wares apart from the usual bazaars. Des herself has her own brand, #dagatbeads, joining the rest of the 49 brands inside the newly opened store along Moret street near UST. What makes them different apart from being pure Pinoy? They all make their products by hand!

I was lucky enough to meet some of the makers of the brands carried by the store and got some nuggets of inspiration and insight that other young and aspiring Filipino entrepreneurs out there can digest. What better way to get that necessary initial push to start than to get it from fresh startups themselves?

8. Passion is nothing without action.

So many aspiring entrepreneurs spend more time talking about their passion and not do much to move forward. This is a potion for frustration, to say the least. The worst that could happen is that it will burn out like any other passing fancy. So if you have something that you have wanted to do for the longest time, fly with it. Now.


7. Doubt is normal.

How do I start? Can I sustain this? Will people buy it? Where do I get the capital? These are some of the young entrepreneurs’ fears and apprehensions, but they jumped right in on the adventure anyway. I want to say the rest is history, but they’re still writing it.

hello-mnl-beer-glassesCristal Glass Project makes lamps, dispensers, and tumblers out of used liquor and beer bottles.

6. Ideas and inspiration can come from the most unexpected places and circumstances.

Malou Solano of Shape Happens came from an LRT station where she found a keychain with a weird looking rabbit attached to it. Ron Cristal of Cristal Glass Project found inspiration from the pile of beer and wine bottles he accumulated from entertaining friends at home.

hello-mnl-dagatbeads#dagatbeads creates accessories out of waterproof pebbles inspired by the sea.

5. It’s not always “just” about money.

A desire to do something positive aside from earning profit will get you going. Hello MNL Store’s advocacy to support small businesses, particularly local brands, is the ember that will keep the fire in its belly going. Des Ong saw the need when her humble #dagatbeads was just a struggling brand online and in numerous bazaars in Manila. Along with other Pinoy online stores she searched online, she invited her “bazaar-mates” to their new “home-store.”

hello-mnl-tienda-wabasTienda Wabas offers hand-stitched paper products.

4. If you love it that much, it will resonate.

We’ve probably heard the cliché “labor of love” too many times that it has lost its meaning – but not for the artists in Hello MNL Store. Partners Francine Lima and Francis Ang of Tienda Wabas say they pour their heart and soul into every creation. The result: an appeal to the customer’s own creativity, forming an invisible bond between product and would-be owner.

hello-mnl-rubber-stampMarz Today designs and develops hand-carved rubber stamps.

3. Let the business side come to you.

Artist and writer Marz Aglipay makes stamps as a hobby.

She found herself drowning in stamps one day that she decided to sell them. She was also a handmade craft fair junkie, so she thought she might as well turn this “addiction” into something profitable.

hello-mnl-pack-setDiyalogo’s sticker quotes reflect the oddities of daily life.

2. It’s okay to “change the rules in the middle of the game.”

One of the most anxious yet exciting parts of being a startup is having to decide to change the medium of your concept. In the case of Diyalogo, Fine Arts graduates Ian Quimbo and Ambo Bongalonta had to look for another space for their witty designs that would sell faster than tshirts. They experimented on stickers, which gave birth to the Diyalogo Pack Set (did you see what they did there?)


1. You will find “forever” among kindred spirits.

It’s a given that most startups start out alone, and that’s okay. But you will find that once you go out there with your brand in hand, timid and apprehensive (or not), you will see that there are like-minded souls who share the kind of passion you have with your creation. Katrina Ysobel Castañeda of Made MNL found her “soulmates” in Hello MNL Store’s other young artists and makers, supporting each other in uplifting Filipino craftsmanship.

Perhaps you have your own passion project that you want to earn from?


864 More Street, 1008 Manila, Philippines