All entrepreneurs had to start from somewhere. Before the big players became big, before the tycoons had their empires, before the malls became chains, they had to start from scratch. For National Bookstore, it was Nanay Coring’s small home-based sari-sari store. For Bench, it was Ben Chan’s tiny rack inside SM Department Store. For SM, it was a small shoe store in Cubao.
For me, everyting started in school.
I made my first 25 centavos when I was in elementary. Stationery were all the rage when I was young, so mini me thought it would be a good idea to sell some to a classmate when I was in grade one or two. But it wasn’t your ordinary sheet of “statio”, as we called it. It was merely a photocopy of one of my favorite sheets. Funny, because the copy was of course a black and white version of the original, but I managed to sell it to a classmate! Even funnier, because the cost of having the piece of statio copied was exactly 25 cents, so I never made any profit.
Oh yes, stationery was the “in” thing when I was in grade school. There was something about those sheets of colorful, scented paper that made little girls hoard like crazy. I remember having a drawer-full of statio in every shape and color, and I treasured them like they were endangered species. The way I was saving each piece, DENR would have been proud. I never used them to write letters (except maybe for the very special occasions, such as thanking a tita for a new set of stationery). Heck, I even considered doctor’s prescription pads as precious!
I wasn’t the only one crazy over those cute little pieces of paper, my cousins were too. During the summer when school was over, we’d usually while away the hours in the family compound in
We’d “display” our stash of stationery in my cousins’ second-floor living room where we had our own little patches of real estate. We’d sit cross-legged on the floor, with our “stocks” spread out in front of us. Little pieces of folded paper which looked like little rooftops proudly announced “5c each”. There were only three of us girl cousins that time and everyone wanted to be tindera. So that inconveniently left us with no customers, except for my poor little brother, who had to be bullied to join us.
Twelve years later, I am still playing tinde-tindera. I still sit cross legged on the floor in front of my stocks, to secure them inside tiny Ziploc bags before a bazaar. I still write the prices on little pieces of paper, but now stylish enough for posh boutiques. I still display my stocks in little patches of real estate, but they are now called booths, and they cost a hell lot of money. My cousins still become tindera at some of my bazaars, but most of the time they are now my customers.
A few days ago, my cousin Kristine helped me man my booth during the Lifestyle Network Bazaar. “