From being called “hija” in a boardroom to jump-starting her career in a cigarette factory, being a woman in business comes with a lot of hoops to jump through. And as we celebrate International Women’s Month, let’s take the time to recognize successful Filipino women entrepreneurs who continue to remind us that women are a force to be reckoned with.
She’s on almost every A-lister’s speed dial when it comes to beauty and for a good reason! She’s come a long way from the cramped 44-sqm office in Makati to a beauty empire with 13 glorious branches nationwide, a line of facial centers, and a skincare brand that’s available in every supermarket and drugstore. With the resounding impact she’s made, it’s no secret that Dr. Vicki Belo is one of the most successful Filipina entrepreneurs there is.
Who she is: Founder, CEO, and Medical Director, Belo Medical Group.
What she’s known for: Dr. Belo is the celebrity dermatologist who turned BeloMed into the first and only ambulatory cosmetic surgicenter in the Philippines accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Hospitals and Healthcare Providers.
Her strategy to success: “Always remember to love yourself every day. It’s not being vain. It’s not being selfish. It’s one of the secrets to being happy.”
Looking for an extra push to go and chase your dream job? Zarah’s flight-attendant-turned-topnotch-designer success story will do the trick. Her knack for creating eco-friendly bags has definitely taken flight and evolved into the country’s one-stop-shop for Pinoy crafts. That, plus the fact that as you support her line of fashionable items, you support indigenous tribes is why her unique pieces are such a hit.
Who she is: Founder of Zarah Juan designs.
What she’s known for: Zarah Juan’s pieces are known to tell stories that pay homage to ordinary Filipino families. Through her craft, she’s created sustainable living for local weavers and craftswomen while showcasing the intricate Philippine culture.
Her strategy to success: “Process, passion, and purpose.”
Nina Ellaine Dizon-Cabrera
When you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s probably a sign for you to create it yourself – that’s how Colourette’s founder and CEO brought her company to life. And if you’re thinking that being a full-time parent and running your own company (let alone, two!) is a task close to impossible, here comes Nina Ellaine Dizon-Cabrera making it look easy.
Who she is: Founder and CEO, Colourette Cosmetics
What she’s known for: Aside from the fact that she’s the #Girlboss we all want to be when we grow up, she’s explicitly pro-Filipino. That means 95% of her brand’s products are sourced and made in the Philippines and 100% of her products are made with Filipinas in mind.
Her strategy to success: Authenticity. From its price points, colors, products, and even to their founder, Colourette makes sure to be as down-to-earth and as pro-Filipino as possible.
Corazon D. Ong
CDO didn’t become one of the most familiar food brands in the country overnight. Becoming a household name came with a lot of years, a burnt down factory, and three children in the making! They say being a mother brings out so many things in you: unconditional love, passion, and grit among others and it’s those very traits that brought Corazon Ong to her success. What started as meal preparations for her children soon became the very meals Filipino households started craving in their own homes.
Who she is: Founder, CDO Foodsphere
What she’s known for: CDO is known for supplying hotdogs, hams, and other processed meat to most food chains and restaurants in the country and being a household staple in Filipino homes.
Her strategy to success: “Love your work.”
Some people write songs about their exes after a breakup, but people like Mica build multi-million dollar empires and become sought-after CEOs. Instead of attending Fordham University, she decided to build a company at 19. Nine years later, she’s become one of the most influential female entrepreneurs in our country. Much so that she’s been bagging awards such as GoNegosyo’s Most Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur to being recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World at the 16th Filipina Leadership Global Summit.
Who she is: Co-founder and CEO, MFT Group.
What she’s known for: Aside from being one of the youngest CEOs in the country, Mica is known for being one of the few women leading a private equity firm.
Her strategy to success: “Some battles are not worth your time, so choose what you fight for wisely.”
What do you do when you’re called “hija” in a board meeting? You clap back with success, and we know Rica Plaza did. When you give up an apprenticeship program under one of your “career idols” you know things are getting serious. At 24, that’s what Rica Plaza had to give up, to build her business.
Who she is: Founder and managing director, Architectural firm Plaza + Partners, Inc.
What she’s known for: Designing community establishments such as supermarkets and malls for Philippine Primark Properties, among others.
Her strategy to success: “When you start to question yourself, you have to go back to your principles and your values. With patience, hard work, and dedication you will go far.”
Soccoro C. Ramos
How many people do you know started their career at 12-years-old in a cigarette factory? Nanay Coring soldiered on through life’s darker moments—even if it meant wrapping bubble gums or sewing buttons on shirts just to make ends meet. From being a saleswoman at a bookstore to eventually turning it into one of the biggest bookstores in the Philippines, at 97 years old we still celebrate Nanay Coring’s success, as we should.
Who she is: Founding Matriarch, National Bookstore
What she’s known for: “Nanay Coring”, as her colleagues and employees fondly call her, is known to have founded the largest bookstore chain in the Philippines.
Her strategy to success: “You must be interested in what you are doing. You must love what you do so you will continue doing it, in spite of a lot of hardship.”
From university to business success, Arielle showed us that perspective goes a long way. Being a millennial in business, she proved that what people might regard as inexperience can be the very thing that sets your business apart from your competition. And that’s exactly what she showed the rest of the country when she took their 27-year family business to greater heights through Pure Nectar.
Who she is: Managing Director, Fruit Magic Co. Inc.
What she’s known for: Revolutionized healthy fruit and vegetable juices by expanding Fruit Magic to Pure Nectar. Seven years later, Pure Nectar now has 16 distributing outlets and has expanded its presence in Brunei and Singapore.
Her strategy to success: “Consumers today are smart, informed, opinionated and are willing to share their thoughts, especially through social media. It is important to listen to them because they could be your greatest source of learning.”