TWP Success Story: Michelle Vicente

TWP Success Stories is a feature of The Wealthy Pinay in which we will celebrate Success and Women Empowerment! Two things that we are very passionate about in our community.

I have always wanted to interview successful Filipina entrepreneurs and ask them about their business journeys, how they balance work and life, and ask for pieces of advice that can help fellow TWPs. We will feature ladies who, in spite and despite of challenges they have and are still experiencing, are continuously working to achieve their goals. These are Filipinas who took the risks and followed their hearts. I truly admire these women because of their determination and grit, and you can really feel their sincerity and good heart – a trait of a real Wealthy Pinay.

We would be featuring Filipina entrepreneurs of all business types (online businesses, solopreneurs, service-oriented, brick-and-mortar businesses) that are registered legally in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world.

My sincere hope is that you get inspired by their stories. We usually create our own ‘stories’ why it’s difficult for us to achieve something while it’s possible for someone else.  The truth is nothing is impossible – your age doesn’t matter, how much money in your bank account doesn’t matter, success doesn’t care if you have a degree or not, it doesn’t matter if you came from a broken family – IT DOESN’T MATTER.

The only thing important is COURAGE. Have the courage to take action!

And I hope these ladies featured in The Wealthy Pinay Success Stories will inspire you to take the leap and have that courage ❤

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Michelle is one of my best friends in highschool. I can’t exactly recall how we became close. Maybe because we are both quiet on the outside but raging bull in the inside 😂. I have a fond memory of us during our senior prom – we were chatting quietly under a tree, away from the brouhaha of the event when suddenly, we heard someone announcing her name. I think she’s as confused as I am “WTF?!?”, we both muttered. As it turned out, she was awarded Ms. Glamorous that night. Michelle has always been glam, fab and pretty in an understated way. I don’t even know if she’s aware how beautiful she is.

And what I really admire about her more, now that we are both mature in our own way, is how giving she is of her knowledge. She would willingly share her ‘trade secrets’ on how she does her business without fear that these people might be her competitors. As she always tell me “madaming kita” which just proves that she has a mind of abundance rather than scarcity.

You would see in our conversation below how honest and generous she is to share her experience. Michelle wants you to know that her almost 17 thousand followers on Instagram didn’t happen overnight. That she also made mistakes and had her fair share of failures.

And before you read the entire interview, let me first give you a background of her business. Michelle is currently living in the United Kingdon and owns Shoe Away by Mitch, an online shop selling imported goods from the UK to the Philippines. The company is mostly selling rubber shoes, and in a regular month sends boxes to the Philippines with (get ready for this!) more than 1 million pesos of items. That’s a whole lot of shoes, girl! 🤩

 

Are you excited to hear her story? I am!!!

Michelle!!! We lost touch for a few years and nasa Spain ka na when we finally reconnect again (Thanks Facebook!). I also don’t know how you started your business, can you tell us?

First, thank you LJ for choosing me to be featured here in The Wealthy Pinay. Feeling ko hindi pa ko bagay dito. Parang ang layo ko pa. Ha ha! But go ako kasi I just want to share how I started and managed to succeed in my online business. It wasn’t easy but it’s all worth it.

I used to live in Spain from 1999-2011, and for some personal reason, I went back to Philippines in 2011 and had to stay there for a few years.

I started selling tutus and other kids’ clothing way back 2012 if I recall. That time I talked to my brother who lives in UK and was convincing him na ang gaganda ng clothes and tutus in Manila and told him that we’ll buy items in Manila and sell them in UK. It turned out to be a total failure because the weather in UK is not appropriate for this kind of clothes. Hindi namin naisip or pinagaralan kung anong market ang papasukin namin. I also tried selling it on FB and Instagram but I don’t know why hindi ko makuha ang market nya. But I see a lot of sellers na may same items like mine and maraming bumibili. So I quit. I lost my interest in selling. In short lugi. I even tried selling high end bags, like buy and sell preloved bags but it did not work out well because I ended up selling it at a lower price.

I also I tried going to random shops, take pictures and post it on Instagram like what other sellers do. They charge for 50-100 pesos per item as service charge but I found out it wasn’t my thing. I needed more time to do that and a lot of patience. But as a mom of 2, my hands were totally full. No time to spend all day at the mall just to take photos.

Fast forward to 2014, That time Instagram was so famous na. Madami na nagsesell ng ibat ibang products. I tried selling some of our preloved clothes on Instagram. And one of my buyers asked me where I am based and told her I’m living in Spain. She then asked, “Why don’t you sell Zara?” I did not know that the clothing brand Zara is famous and like pala sya ng mga taga Pinas. Then I talked to my brother who lives in Spain about it. We agreed about how it’s going to work, payments, orders, etc. I looked online for products, took a screenshot then posted it. One item I posted was a sandals for girls. Surprisingly, everybody wants it!

I gained more followers because of that sandals, and by recommendations of my buyers to their friends as well. But that stint in Spain was not a happy ending din. I failed again. Not because wala akong buyer but because I had issues with delivery timing from Spain to Pinas. Estimated time of arrival was supposedly 3 months but my boxes started arriving only after more than 6 months! So we lost some profit because of refunds. And we had to sell it at a lower price. Some clients were understanding and still took the items even though hindi na kasya sa anak nila. I decide to stop taking Spain orders.

After some time, with my brother’s help, I went back to UK orders. This time, UK to Pinas.

Ha ha! Yes, I never give up!

One product from UK was a hit (a pair of kids fringed boots!). Just like the ZARA sandals, everybody wants it. Swak sa bulsa ang price and arrived on time! Everybody was happy. And I gained more followers. Then I moved finally to UK in August 2015. And that’s when everything falls into place. From 1 box a month to sending 5 boxes a week now!!

(Lyn Joy: Kung hindi ito inspirational, I don’t know what is. Her story proves na walang ‘get rich quick’. She started, failed, started again, failed again but didn’t give up. If you are online reseller, naririnig ko na ang naiisip mo (talent ko kasi yan) “Nasa ibang bansa kasi sya.” “Imported ang binebenta nya kaya mura” yada, yada, yada… Asus! We can obviously see her success now (I mean sending 5 boxes a week is a lot!!!) but you can also see that Michelle didn’t stop just because of 1 or 2 failed attempts. She just continued.

Wala talaga tayo mararating if we just see the obstacles ahead of us rather than the opportunity. “Gusto ko sana, kaya lang…,” “Kung hindi lang ako….,” “Kung pwede lang sana pero….”. Hay naku, girl! Dami mong dahilan. If you have the same bullshit reason, can I tell you the fucking truth? Wala kang mararating. Yes, maybe you’ll move a few inches forward but that dream will forever stay as a dream. And I’m not saying this to mock you. Alam ko na madaming tao sa paligid mo who always keeps you feeling good. Sobrang comfortable mo na nga kaya ayaw mo na umalis kung nasan ka man ngayon! Consider me as the Cruella de Vil of your life. But I’m here to tell you the fucking truth dahil gusto kita magising kasi alam ko na isa kang ambitious, determined, strong person who wants some fucking success sa buhay nya. And walang change na mangyayari kung wala kang gagawin. #EndRant (Promise, I won’t use bad words na. Nabigla lang. Sorry mommy!)) 😂

Have You ever been employed? And if yes, was it an easy decision to go full time on your business?

Yes, I had a job when I was in Spain. But now that I’m  living in UK, I work 2 days/11 hrs a week. Can I tell you again something? My first year and half in UK, I didn’t have a job. I came to UK with just £1,000 in my pocket. I have no choice but to make the business work and ensure that there’s enough profit to pay for my expenses. At first yes it’s a bit challenging. But alam mo na pag wala ka na makain and you have 2 kids to feed talagang gagawa ka ng paraan. Ngayon, I don’t really need to work na since medyo mabilis na ang pasok ng pera at medyo malaki na ang market. Most of my expenses sa profit ko na kinukuha. My salary sa daytime job ko goes to our savings na.

(Lyn Joy: Oh my gosh! Samatanlang ako eto at kinakabahan pa din sa sa pag-uwi namin sa Pinas for good next year kahit na meron ng naipon. Michelle only had 1000 pound! #BraveGirl It’s really nice to learn about others’ stories because it gives you the confidence that, yes, it’s possible. Obviously, you need to use your common sense din and logical thinking (bawal tanga, wag papaloko) but having a goal, and the courage to do it is more important than anything else. Samahan pa ng faith! 🙏)

How much was your initial capital when you started?

When I started in Spain, I needed like €2000 (around 120k PHP more or less) which I borrowed lang sa kapatid ko since sya ang bibili sa Spain. But I paid him right away after mag settle ng payables ang mga clients. Actually parang wala ngang capital since its already paid in full ng mga clients ang orders nila.

With my UK orders naman, I only had that £1,000 I mentioned earlier and that’s my budget between orders and paying our expenses here in UK. But most of my clients naman I demand full payments since wala nga akong malaking pang capital. So, I wait till they pay me saka ako bibili ng orders nila.

 Just like most business, hindi talaga madali sa simula. What do you think is the biggest issue of doing a retail online business?

TRUST And PATIENCE! And the assurance na makakarating ang items mo ng safe at hindi mawawala.

What I love about you is how you are so generous of your knowledge and you are more than willing to share the process of doing an online business. A true Wealthy Pinay trait! What drives you to share what you know? Aren’t you scared that others will copy your business model?

As much as possible I try to share it to everybody kasi it makes me realize na kahit pala hindi ako nagwowork, I can earn money pa rin and I don’t need big capital to do it. I actually earn more on my business than working for a company. I don’t need to depend on others for my personal needs and wants. And it feels good to share something na alam mong ikakaunlad ng iba.

It’s a bit scary to share information siempre kasi isa sila sa magiging ka kumpetensya mo. But business is like that naman. Hindi naman nawawala yan. For me it’s much better may competitor because you get to learn from it too. You will think of something na makakapag improve sayo and your business ng mas maganda so clients will stay.

(Lyn Joy: A true TWP trait di ba? To grow in business, the motivation is not really to be the number one, the only one, or money. Yes, true, it could be a good motivator, but in a long run, it’s really the desire to make an impact and contribution. I agree with Michelle that you shouldn’t be afraid of your competitors. You can observe them but don’t copy them. Model your business based on your personality and values. Treat competition as a friendly game – exciting and shouldn’t be stressful. Kalaban mo lang dapat is sarili mo at wala ng iba.)

As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?

Every morning when I wake up, I always plan my schedule for the whole day. I always think of where I can get good deals for my clients and how I’m going to give them a price na swak sa budget. It motivates me to do this kasi feeling ko exciting ung maghahanap ka ng affordable items and pag nabalita mo sa kanila they all want it. And the fact na napasaya mo na sila nagkaprofit ka pa.

 What do you do for encouragement or to be motivated?

  1. I set my goals. I challenge myself especially when I feel like I’m so tired and want to quit.
  2. I give myself a reward every time I reach my goal
  3. And I always tell myself to be positive. And remind myself that I’m doing this for the people I love and the people who look up to me.

What do you do to unwind?

I go to work. It’s funny because I consider my daytime job which is 2 days a week as my day off! It’s the only time I get to rest my mind. Away from everything. Away from my phone.

Minsan when I want to disconnect from the real world of selling, I travel with my kids. Somewhere without internet is much better! But sa selling kasi you can sell everything kahit na ref magnet yan. So parang kahit nag travel ka yun pa rin naiisip mo – mag benta. So parang hindi ka pa din totally disconnected but slight na lang. Depende na siguro yun sa’yo how you want to spend your time.

Where do you see your business growing these coming years?

I’ve been thinking of setting up a store in Manila. But I am looking pa on how I can provide a lot of stocks pag nagbukas ako. My Instagram acount has a few resellers din kaya mabilis maubos ang stocks. We can easily sell 200 pairs of shoes in less than 2 weeks if we really want. So if I open a store gusto ko yung mas madaming stocks. We just need to work on it.

I am also thinking of selling high-end items like bags and shoes. Pa level up ng konti. In God’s time!

What do you think it takes to succeed in business?

Be financially responsible and always make improvements in your business. Like, there are times na nagkakamali on orders or clients have complains. You just have to make sure that next time it won’t happen again.

Lastly, what advise can you give to all our TWP community members who want to grow their online business?

PATIENCE at COURAGE. Always take courage to do everything to succeed. Sabi nga nila try and try until you succeed. If you have to take the risk, do it! But be patient sa lahat ng pinagdaanan. Meron times na nalulugi, and that’s OK puede kang bumawi sa ibang paraan. If konti ang sales, think of other strategies na magpapa-boost ng sales mo. Or magpapadami ng clients. Laging may paraan. We just need to be creative to be able to find a way para magawa yon. But the most important advice I can give is to have fun and love what you do.

 

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Thank you so much Michelle! I will continuously say this – I LOVE YOUR GENEROSITY! I know that hundreds (if not thousands) of Filipinas in our TWP community are now inspired and buzzing with excitement knowing that everything is possible. Being a single mother is not easy but you make it look like a breeze. I always admire your strength.

If you want to follow Michelle and her business adventures, you’ll find her on Instagram and Facebook – Shoe Away by Mitch Since 2014

 

I wish you abundance, love and joy my fellow Wealthy Pinays. Have a good day! ❤️

 

 

 

 

P.S. Do you want to be featured at The Wealthy Pinay Success Storiesor know someone who can serve as an inspiration to the community? Please drop me an email. Let’s connect!

Live The Life and Business You Have Imagined!

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