Style Living Self Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Shop Hello! Create with us

Want to be your own boss? 5 millennials talk about what it’s like to be one in their 20s

By Brooke Villanueva Published Oct 16, 2021 6:19 pm

Do you want to be your own boss?

While carving our own paths and working for ourselves sound like the perfect scenario, it can be a scary dream to pursue. What if it doesn’t work out? This question may overpower what’s on the other side: the idea that it can also do so in our favor. Take it from these millennials who focused on the latter, decided to take a giant leap, started their own brands, failed, and eventually reaped the fruits of their labor at such a young age. (Keep in mind, though, that we are not in a race—it’s important to enjoy each part of our journey as we get some inspiration for our next steps toward the life of our dreams.)

Avin Ong

Avin Ong, 29, started Fredley Group of Companies when he was just 23 years old. Success didn’t just drop on his lap—at the age of seven, he started selling fruit shakes at the wet market after school to help his family make ends meet. He worked for Deutsche Bank after his college graduation and made sure to spend only P32 per day. Armed with an MBA degree from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, the CEO used all his savings to establish FGC, which now carries food brands we all know and love: Macao Imperial Tea, New York Fries & Dips, and Liang Crispy Roll, among many others.

What sparked your dream of becoming your own boss?

“Life then was very challenging. I wanted to help my family in terms of financial obligations and challenges. My dad died while I was still in my mom’s womb so I wanted to help my mom in whatever way I can. But what happened to my first fruit shake business? To be honest, I didn’t earn anything. I lost money. It was not a profitable business. I learned a lot of lessons from it that’s why I became a risk-taker. When I established Fredley Group of Companies, I was no longer afraid of failure.”

What set you up for success?

“We live in a world full of distractions, so being disciplined helps me achieve the success I want. I also have to work really, really hard. Honesty and integrity are also very important. As a businessman or even as a person, it’s important to do the right things even when no one is watching, you should be honest to your stakeholders, suppliers, clients, and subordinates. Sabi nila, it takes years for you to build trust and it takes mere seconds for you to break it. So it’s very important for you to give that level of honesty, to have integrity in order to get yung trust ng other people sayo.”

What’s the best piece of advice you could ever give for those who want to start their own brand at a young age?

“I always tell young people that we are still so young, so we can still afford to fail habang energetic pa tayo. You have to be a risk-taker. You shouldn’t be scared of trying new things. You have to create something new on your own and you won’t be able to do that if you’re scared of risk, you’re scared of failures. You have to be strong enough emotionally to make sure you can handle all these things. Remind yourself about your passion. Along the journey, you’ll be disappointed, but as long as you’re reminded about your passion and why you started all these things in the very first place, it’s gonna keep you moving.”

Anika Martirez

Anika Martirez started her namesake brand Anika—a “proudly Filipino lifestyle brand built on the ethos of fuss-free femininity”—when she was 27 years old. She uses her learnings from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles to create lovely pieces with style, substance, and slow fashion in mind.

What sparked your dream of becoming your own boss?

“A quote that my dad ingrained in me since I was little: ‘If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.’”

What set you up for success?

“I stay focused on improving myself daily, striving to be better—to be my best self. It all begins with myself—keeping my physical, mental, and spiritual health in check. I always feel my most inspired and I can lead best when these three aspects are met. I also make sure to stay humble and grounded. And as a constant work in progress, I learn from my mistakes and own up to them. I take risks once in a while.”

What’s the best piece of advice you could ever give for those who want to start their own brand at a young age?

“Be your most authentic self when creating a brand you can call your own. When stuck in a rut, feeling uninspired or defeated, always go back to your ‘why’—your purpose, your core values, and why you started your brand in the first place. Stay humble, grounded, and hungry.

Chase Lorenz Chianpian

After working for a bank and a PR agency for four years, Chase Chianpian started the first gallon milk tea in the Philippines at 26. Two and a half years later, Gallontea continues to thrive as a pandemic-proof venture, offering different variants in huge servings for all the milk tea lovers out there.

What sparked your dream of becoming your own boss?

“Ever since I was young, I always knew I wanted to have my own business, I just didn’t know what business yet. So after getting real-world experience from a bank and PR company, I decided to help out in our family business. While in the family business, I felt the need to make something of my own. The idea of Gallontea came and I started building on it slowly.”

What set you up for success?

“For me, success is a lot of devoted time and effort—especially if you’re just starting out, that’s the main resource you have. When I started, it was a one-man show from posting, photoshoots, order-taking, booking deliveries, and more. For me, it was okay to start small. But I never settle. I always learn, innovate, and adapt. There is always something to improve on to help the business succeed.”

What’s the best piece of advice you could ever give for those who want to start their own brand at a young age?

“Slow progress is still progress. You’re still young and you have the time to see your business grow.”

R.K. Dela Rosa

R.K. Dela Rosa has come a long way since she started Simmer Studios when she was just 22 years old. From doing pub mats for her college professor’s business and other referrals from her blockmates, she’s now showcasing her brilliance for familiar names like Gretchen Ho, Megan Young, and Mikael Daez, among others.

What sparked your dream of becoming your own boss?

“Since college, when I learned about my talent and accepted my skills in editing and design, ako lagi yung assigned sa creative roles in our projects. I remember always randomly blurting out to my barkada na “Tara, gawa tayong studio after college,” since everyone has a specific role already and all our skills complement each other. We have a copywriter, someone good in marketing, a photographer, and a designer. So all our projects and thesis really went well together and I made it all come true. Although Simmer is a sole prop under my name, they are now working with Simmer. So it’s just like back in college, but instead of trying to please our professors, we’re helping clients and solving real world problems creatively.”

What set you up for success?

“I started my business because of my goals, not because I wanted to get ahead of others. I never stopped creating despite the negative voices. As for my personal routine, it involves working for one whole day but making sure I get eight hours of sleep everyday no matter what time I sleep, kahit 5:00 a.m. pa.”

What’s the best piece of advice you could ever give for those who want to start their own brand at a young age?

“My advice is the same as what I mentioned earlier. Start your business because of your own goals. Because you want it. Because it’s your dream, and not just because you want to get ahead of others. Community over competition, always!”

Gio Manlangit

Wanting to have the freedom and liberty with his time and day-to-day, Gio Manlangit started his own brand at 21 from all his savings from his previous corporate job. Agape—Greek for “unconditional love”—is a clothing brand that allows not only himself but also his clients to express their beliefs through everyday wear.

What sparked your dream of becoming your own boss?

“I was an employee before I started my own business. I was climbing up the corporate ladder. I was efficient and tried to finish my tasks as soon as possible, but I wanted to choose what wanted to do with my time because I wanted to be more productive. Beyond that, I also love clothing, I love branding. I wanted to start a business I really love and something I’m passionate about. As a creative, it’s hard to be put in a box where I can’t express myself. So that’s how Agape came about.”

What set you up for success?

“For me, it’s keeping in mind that it’s okay to have a day job, a part-time job, or side hustle while doing my business. There’s no shame in that. That’s one of the most common mistakes, sometimes people would resign right away and leave their day jobs. There will be times and projects you would lose money, so it’s good to have a day job or a part-time job that will be your source of income in case things go wrong.”

What’s the best piece of advice you could ever give for those who want to start their own brand at a young age?

“You have to be willing to take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and step up. The reality of doing a business is that you would win some and lose some. But the best thing about it is it could also be a breakthrough. It could be your big break.”