Bea Ocampo and her boyfriend Japee Baldonado, in their mid-20s, are the faces of Lemonlime Manila, a food business that started selling Key Lime Pie through Instagram in March 2021.
This couple's business idea began through Bea's love language of giving gifts and acts of service. Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages, noted that people show love in five different ways: physical touch, acts of service, receiving and giving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Bea said, "Ever since we got together, I've been baking for him since day one, from cookies and brownies to cakes. But personally, Japee and I were not fond of anything sweet. So one day, I baked him a Key Lime Pie out of nowhere."
Japee, whose love language is words of affirmation, said to Bea, "Why don't you do this? You're a good baker. Why don't you sell your Key Lime Pie?"
That was the beginning of their small business. With a P10,000 investment, they grew a home business into a brand whose fans are the likes of Liz Uy, Bing Loyzaga, Karen Davila, and Bella Padilla.
After more than two years in the business of selling mainly pies, they introduced the Piesicle for the summer season, which is available online and now in Manila Polo Club.
The Piesicle is a key lime pie on a stick dipped in Belgian chocolate of five flavors (classic milk, dark, white, caramel, and ruby chocolate). It took them seven months to launch, from the R&D and road testing to packaging.
Bea shared what inspired their new product: "It's common in America, specifically in Key West, Florida. It's a literal slice of the key lime pie, and then they skewer it." It's a labor of love for both Bea and Japee as one Piesicle takes two days to make.
With two products, the Key Lime Pie and Piesicle, Japee has been amazed by what they've done. He said, "From the transition of a casual small-time business into growing it into a flourishing one, it's been rewarding, but the most rewarding part is to be able to do that with her (Bea)."
He added, "Siyempre, when you are dating, it's always best foot forward. But, in our business, what surprised me about her is that she's focused on what she does. So I knew right away that she was a keeper."
For now, their goal is to get the word out by joining bazaars and having a few pop-ups around Metro Manila.
Bea shared one moment they felt validated: "We were in Podium for a bazaar when a group of chefs passed by our booth. They bought one Piesicle each. After a few minutes, they gave us a thumbs up." She continued, "But the highlight is when we got home. I checked Lemonlime Manila's IG. And there was a message that said, 'You're on the right track. Start small, and little by little, you will grow. Just don't rush everything.'"
With those words of affirmation from a stranger, both Bea and Japee know they are on the right track. It's about steadily growing without rushing the process.
Here are some small business tips from Bea and Japee:
Repeat the phrase in your head: "The customer is always right."
Make sure to establish boundaries and clear roles, so there is no blaming each other.
Learn to compromise.
When you are your own boss, you have to be strict. But make time to rest and relax.
Focus on your responsibilities. Don't let your work pile up.
Don't do a business out of trends. Think of something that doesn't make sense to anyone else but you.