by Ginger Arboleda
Rhiza Oyos had been working for many years and continued to do so after she got married. When she gave birth to twins, she left her job to begin a business.
She is now the owner of Sweet Dreams Candy and Dessert Buffets.
Her line used to be SEO and Online Marketing. Needing to provide for the family double-time as well as to spend more time with the babies without straying too far from things she loves, she went into a “fun” business with her husband. was She also realized that her passion was really designing and doing creative stuff.
Started last May, the business provides candy and dessert buffets for birthday parties, weddings and corporate events. Most of the clients Rhiza has are moms who are organizing birthday parties for their kids.
She thought of starting the business when she was planning for her twins’ dedication months ago. She wanted a DIY party; and while she enjoyed preparing it, she realized that it was also so stressful. She then thought that other people would definitely appreciate getting some help in setting up a dessert area for their parties.
“There are already a lot of party and event stylists out there who are really good at what they do,” says Rhiza. “But some women and moms, like me, want to be hands on when it comes to special occasions like this. We want to craft the decorations ourselves, or design our own invitations, etc. Also, a lot of thought goes into the budget. Party stylists can be costly, and may not fit everyone’s budget. So I started a business that provides the dessert table as an ala carte service. That way, our clients can still be hands on with the other details of the party and just entrust the dessert table to us.”
She said that she has clients who celebrate in restaurants. The restaurants would take care of the decorations, the food, the cake, and everything else. She would normally be commissioned to add that oomph that the clients look for in a party. She would create a candy buffet set up, something that the restaurant is not able to accommodate.
Rhiza’s basic package starts at Php 5,000. This includes ten assorted types of candies already for 50-75 people. She can also create a customized package for smaller groups. She recalls, when she started the business, there were only two other candy buffet suppliers. As she grew her connections and continued researching about the business, she realized that there are more suppliers doing the same type of business.
As for the competition, Rhiza explains that each candy/dessert buffet business has something unique to offer. Some offer bulk candies with fewer assortments. Others offer full dessert spreads. Others offer only candy tables. There are a few that are very elegant and stylish with their setup, and they offer imported candies, which justify the above-average rates they offer. Some event stylists and caterers offer candy/dessert buffet as an add-on or inclusion to their packages, too.
Sweet Dreams Candy and Dessert Buffets is positioned somewhere in between.
Rhiza offers full candy buffet packages, with both local and imported candies. She also has dessert packages (cupcakes, dessert shooters, pastries) for those who want heavier snacks. She is introducing some fun add-ons too, like a DIY S’mores bar, an Ice Cream bar, and chocolate fondue set. So it really depends on what the client finds important to her and which supplier can fulfill her needs more.
Like any new business,Rhiza was faced with challenges in finding resources. For example, apothecary jars are hard to find here in the Philippines. You can’t even find them in online. It took her months to complete her jar collection. Even with about a dozen apothecary jars, though, she still feels that she has to add more options. She and her husband searched everywhere, and have collected their jars over time.
Rhiza advises that you can always buy standard candy jars and flower vases (which are good too!) from department stores if you want to make your candy buffet on your own. But, if you’re doing this as a business, the jars are your investment. Apothecary jars cost around Php700 to 3,000 pesos per piece. That’s one of the things that set suppliers apart from DIY projects. Suppliers invest on these things, since they’ll use them over and over again.
In terms of advertising, she started with a Facebook page and promoted the business on her personal blog. She says that she benefits a lot from word of mouth, and from her network of friends and colleagues. She grabs opportunities to sponsor events or workshops, like the WAHM (Work-at-Home-Mom) Workshop held last July and the Sky Celebrations Fair last August. Her tip is to invest the marketing/advertising budget in actual events and activities, because one can really showcase one’s product/service to potential clients that way. Another tip is to always bring business cards to clients’ parties.
In starting this kind of business, you should have patience, lots of courage and determination. You have to believe in your product, too. Businesses like these are not sources of passive income, so you really need to exert a lot of effort. You have to love what you’re doing or else it’ll be so tempting to just quit.