Bettinna Carlos: TV star, single mom, savvy foodpreneur
The inspiration to start a business comes in many forms.
For actress Bettinna Carlos, it came through her baby.
“The idea of putting up a business came about 6 months after I gave birth. I wasn’t ready to go back to my TV job and I wasn’t sure if there was anything to come back to because I got unexpectedly pregnant while working,” she said at the sidelines of 7th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit on Friday, March 6, organized by Go Negosyo.
As a single mom, Bettinna was struggling through a lot of concerns in the beginning, chief among them the desire to continue breastfeeding her newborn.
“I had to find a way to make ends meet that would allow me to move according to my time and within the confines of my home because I wasn’t ready to leave my daughter then,” Bettinna said.
These concerns eventually pushed her into venturing in an online business.
Bettina is the founder and chief panadera (baker) of Baked Bites by ABC, an nearly 4 year-old home-based online business.
As a gesture of thanks, she sent one of the first boxes of her cookies to her special friend, Bettinna said.
Bettinna’s most popular offering is the Nutella Rocks™, her personal creation that fuses Mrs. Fields cookies and Ferrero Rocher chocolates all baked together using Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.
She sells her products online through Twitter, Facebook, and especially Instagram.
Bettinna shared that first her customers were limited to extended family and friends.
Initially she tried to expand her reach by consigning to cafés and restaurants such as Moon Leaf Café and Raintree but abandoned the idea after realizing that the overhead costs were not worth the expenditure.
She also wanted to maintain control over what she sold, which convinced Bettinna to sell directly to customers online.
Demand spiked exponentially when she eventually returned to her TV job and opened up her Instagram and Twitter accounts, Bettinna said.
Despite the growing popularity of her products, Bettinna said she still puts a personal touch on her products. She still does all the baking, marketing, and managing orders although she has had to hire a full-time driver to keep up with the orders.
Her driver delivers to all points of Metro Manila on a cash on delivery basis and she uses LBC for for provincial orders.
“I can’t deny the fact that being a TV personality really helped get the word out,” she said, and recalled how many of her colleagues initially shared her concoctions to their followers to help get it off the ground.
She is adamant though that marketing through social media, particularly Instagram, was equally important, if not more so.
Bettinna recounted that she started a Twitter account for her business 6 months before opening an Instagram account.
Four years on, her Twitter followers stand at around 10,000 while her Instagram followers are 120,000 strong.
“It really shows that people are very visual. They don’t like reading much, they like it when there are pictures upfront and that makes Instagram an ideal marketing channel,” Bettinna said.
Instagram even features free editing options that allow sprucing up your pictures, Bettinna said.
As such, Bettinna always tells prospective entrepreneurs and people asking for advice to take advantage of the free services these social media platforms offer.
“A business owner really does not have to spend much, they don’t need professional editors or photographers. You can do it all yourself with your smartphone and you exercise total control of how you want to present your product as well,” she said.
Brand presence is another important part of selling food online, she said.
As food seller online you want to establish the brand quality right away. So when you come up with a new item, people will immediately associate it with the good reputation of the brand and eliminate any doubts, Bettinna said.
“For example, Purple Oven is the number one supplier of Starbucks so you know that the quality of everything that Purple Oven produces is good,” she illustrated.
For now, Bettinna wants to focus equally on her business and her entertainment career.
She is keenly aware that her high profile status affords her the unique opportunity to both promote the business and generate capital for further expansion.
She said that she plans to drastically expand Baked Bites by ABC in the next two or 3 years.
“My end goal is to put up a café where I’m really my own boss and I can really chose what to make for the day-to-day or week-to-week. I want to have that liberty,” she said.
Fittingly given how her business started, family is the same reason Bettinna is keen to grow it.
“I have two brothers who are also into food. So we’re hoping to grow this business and eventually turn it into a Carlos Bakery and Café,” Bettinna shared. – Rappler.com
Photos from Bettinna Carlos' Instagram account