Here’s how this “Mateabay” small shop is thriving despite the pandemic

It’s no secret— the resiliency of Filipinos really shines through during adversity. This 2020, our character has once again been put to the test with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While this has affected many businesses, just as many small ones have sprouted.

One business that has shined through despite these challenges is a shop called Nel Tea. A small milk tea shop located in Taguig, Nel Tea continues to thrive despite the crisis. Whether it’s because of their affordable prices, their wide selection of milk teas and milkshakes, or simply because people love milk tea so much; what matters is that it’s doing something right.

From Humble Beginnings

Photo by Nel Tea

Nel Tea was established a year ago after owner Junel Buncio Pantig realized that office jobs weren’t for her. She came to that realization after applying in several companies and not getting into any one of them. Going back to her dream of becoming a business owner, where she can be her own boss, she then decided to open her own business— a beverage shop. She then took a gamble and invested what little money she had.

And so, Nel Tea was formed. Unlike many businesses that start off with tons of capital, it only took Php1,500 to start this milkshake/milk tea shop.

Photo by Nel Tea

Why milkshakes and milk tea? Back during the summer of 2019, Junel thought that selling cold drinks was a good idea. It was cheap, and perfect for keeping cool. And with the insane summers in this country, you know very well how cold drinks are a godsend.

Initially, Nel Tea started with five milkshake flavors. Using the ingredients she had in her household along with her mom’s blender, Junel then set up a table outside her house and began selling. Eventually, this mom-and-pop gained traction with lots of people clamoring for sweet drinks. Thus, after saving up enough money, she enrolled in a milk tea workshop with the hopes of expanding her product line.

In this workshop, Junel was able to learn about the various ingredients, processes, and recipes that milk tea shops use. With a newfound interest in adding milk tea to her menu, she then sourced the cheapest suppliers she could find in the Metro. In a matter of days, she added three new milk tea flavors, which proved to be a hit.

Photo by Nel Tea

With now more money to put into Nel Tea, Junel converted a space in her house into a proper shop. In a matter of months, Nel Tea grew into a booming beverage shop within their area, which she didn’t expect. Fast forward to now, Nel Tea has a total of 35 variants, which include milk tea, fruit teas, and milkshakes.

Bouncing Back from a Crisis

Everything was going swimmingly until the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Junel cites this as the “first major problem [she] encountered as a business owner”, which really dampened her operations. During the early stages, she had no choice but to close the shop for safety reasons, though she realized that she needed to eventually reopen it for business continuity.

Photo by Nel Tea

Now that the quarantine regulations are more relaxed, Nel Tea is now back in business, but with some minor changes. “I did markings on my shop to practice social distancing. I opted for individually wrapped Boba straws to avoid contamination. I also invested in individually packed straws and PPE safety gear for my staff. This is to ensure everyone that even though we’re a small business, we take things seriously for their wellness. Right now, I even have a delivery service for people around our neighborhood,” she explains.

Nel Tea is currently stable despite the pandemic, but Junel isn’t resting on her laurels just yet. She adds that she has been “continuously thinking of ways to improve our service while still aiming to comply with the government rules about the MECQ”.

“I hope this brings light and hope to all aspiring business owners. It’s never too late to work on your dreams and make it happen,” she concludes.

And we couldn’t agree more.

How to Order

For those who want to order drinks from Nel Tea, you can send them a message on Facebook or Instagram. Once your order is confirmed, you can pay through online bank transfer or GCash. Customers who live near the area are also encouraged to order online, so Nel Tea can avoid having too many people in its store. Plus, the shop can practice social distancing better, since it gets to control the number of people going in and out of the store.

Nel Tea also offers deliveries for those who want their milk tea fix no matter what. Junel’s personal rider can deliver anywhere in Taguig, while you also have the option of booking your preferred courier, be it Grab, Lalamove or Angkas.

Like all other businesses in this pandemic, the owner of Nel Tea just wants to thrive. And they are — swimmingly, in fact. The love for milk tea does not stop, pandemic or not, and Nel Tea is a proud testament to that.

[Also Read: LOOK: These Besteas took the plunge and started a business during the COVID-19 pandemic]

Got any success stories to share?

Nel Tea: Milktea + Milkshake

No. 48, Block 3, Zone 2 Barangay Fort Bonifacio, Taguig


Instagram: @nel_tea

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