When Nanay Corazon first observed a TSPI center meeting in 2008, she thought it was a prayer meeting. She asked one of the members, “What are you talking about under the tree?” She was curious to know why the group was praying and were very happy. At that time, Nanay Corazon was working as a sewer and did not want a loan. Her friends were asking her to join the group however she was fearful of the responsibility of borrowing.
She was eventually convinced to join the center and was then determined to make use of the loan to start her own RTW business. Her first loan was for P5,000 and she used P3,000 to buy cloth and P2,000 for other basic business equipment and for salary of the few sewers she got. From her profit she was able to purchase a high speed sewing machine and started making shorts and blouses which she was able to sell at Pasig Market. She has a stall there that opens every Wednesday and Friday. After Pasig, her second market was at Grand Central followed shortly by 168 Mall in Divisoria. Nanay Corazon has been able to get her products into big malls by observing staff in order to identify the right person to approach and by also identifying people who can lead her. Last year she opened another market in Star Mall. Nanay Corazon has even been able to qualify her products for sale in SM however she has not pushed forward with this opportunity due to unfavorable payment terms. When a new retail outlet is identified Nanay is able to step up production and expand her business.
She now has a P30,000 general loan and a P10,000 multipurpose loan with TSPI and has never missed any payment. Her loan has grown along with her business, which has grown to be the pride of her center. She is now employing 15 workers and producing 1,600 items of clothing to sell per week. On top of this, her products are being sold in four well known markets in Manila. Her workers are happy because there is so much demand for her RTW and that they are able to earn up to P7,000 a month from sewing. Nanay Corazon says the reason for her growth and success is not only the amount she borrowed but the blood and sweat capital she put into the business. From one machine she was able to pay back her loan and invest in another machine to expand her capacity. She is able to make a 70% margin on her blouses and approximately 50% on her shorts. She is constantly alert when it comes to the latest style in fashion, which she sees on TV. If she sees a design Nanay Corazon immediately draws it, develops the pattern, and sews a sample. She makes sure that her buyers see her new designs before mass producing them.
Nanay has always been responsible for marketing her products and is very keen on keeping the good quality of her products. Deeply dedicated to growing her business, she tirelessly searches for new opportunities to sell her products especially during lean seasons. It doesn’t matter if the orders are big or small, Nanay Corazon just wants to make the sale. Good product quality has allowed Nanay Corazon to sell to more and more markets each year. Now that she is no longer doing as much sewing as before, she focuses on monitoring the quality of her employee’s work. Fortunately, six of the sewers work in her house so she is able to check on them throughout the day. Every morning, Nanay Corazon visits her other sewers who work from their homes. As much as possible she tries to avoid returns from her buyers as it would double her cost on transportation and labor to repair her RTWs. More so, Nanay Corazon places prime importance on the satisfaction of her customers.
Nanay Corazon shared that she has had bad employers in the past but now that God has blessed her with a successful enterprise, she is determined to share her blessings to her workers. By visiting her staff every day Nanay Corazon is able to help them with their problems, including lending them cash when they need financial help. During Christmas, she holds a party for all her staff and gives them gifts both in cash and in kind. She even treats her staff to a meal every month of June.
When she first started her business, she was investing half of her profits back into growing the business. Now that her business has grown, she is investing 20% of her profits and helping family members with her extra money. She hopes to re-invest her profits by buying a vehicle in order to deliver her products more efficiently to markets in different parts of Manila since her products are not easy to carry by taking a public transport.
Nanay Corazon’s five-year plan is to expand her business into a factory supplying to overseas markets. In order to do this, she is saving money to expand her house to accommodate more sewers. This, she says, will enable her to better monitor the quality of her products. She will continue meeting with people and looking for the opportunity to export her RTWs. Her short-term goal is to purchase the adjacent lot to her residence in order to build apartments for rent to earn additional family income.
Nanay’s enthusiasm doesn’t stop with her business. She is also planning to help benefit the community through the formation of the local Women’s Association. They are working towards repairing old roads in their community for the benefit of the children in their neighborhood. Nanay Corazon is in the process of gathering community support. She has already gained support from five women and needs support from another 10 to formalize the Association. On top of this, Nanay Corazon has approached her local branch with an idea to help generate income for unemployed women in their community. She wants to teach them the sewing skills and at the same time share her knowledge and experience in the RTW business. The TSPI branch is supportive of this idea. The training was supposed to be conducted early this year but due to her volume orders, it was moved to August of this year. She has already recruited five TSPI clients, who will soon complete hands-on training in her shop, at least for the first batch since she only has few sewing machines.
Her number one secret is faith in the Lord. She strongly believes that her capital came from the Lord and now she gives back through tithing, ensuring that she gives 10% of all her profits to the Church. Nanay Corazon believes it’s not a sin to be born poor but it’s a sin to die poor. “I want to show to others that poverty is not a hindrance, only laziness.”