In a snap: PR practitioner becomes online bread seller

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    WHEN Metro Manila was under enhanced community quarantine, public relations practitioner Laila Opiña Briones introduced “TinaPay Online,” her new online business platform where she sells freshly baked classic Pinoy breads sourced from her in-laws’ 25-year-old bakery.

    Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this proud momtrepreneur knows that local bakeries sprout everywhere offering the same products. “Ours are not just ‘ordinary’ breads as they are timeless and palate-appealing creations made by our family and ought to be shared with our customers,” Briones said.

    To order, Metro Manila customers must send a message bearing their name, mobile number, well-liked breads and preferred mode of online payment. Minimum amount per order is P150, plus a service charge of P20.

    Briones related that many of her customers keep coming back as the breads remind them of their wonderful childhood, not to mention that they smell and taste good. TinaPay Online sells 20 varieties of breads.

    Among the favorites are ube (purple yam)-cheese pan de sal, Spanish bread, ensaymada, pianono roll, choco roll and banana loaf. From the usual 15 to 20 regulars, she welcomed about 35 online customers almost every day.

    Searching for fulfilling work, Briones received scores of customers “which came to a point that I cannot accommodate all of them as I needed to finish the backlogs.” However, she eventually doubled her productivity so that everybody will get to enjoy what she offers.

    As lockdown eases, she acknowledged that her temporary business could get shaky as people would troop out to eat at restaurants, shop at the grocery store or feel the pinch given a tight budget.

    For Briones, whose profit increased from mid-March and mid-April, one thing is for sure: “I am glad that I was able to help by providing them with good food during a time when going out was not an option.”

    Although she does not bake, Briones is very hands on in managing her online business. She is currently evaluating if this kind of business under the new normal would catch on.

    She has four drivers working for ride-hailing platforms but have halted due to the imposition of the recent extreme community quarantine.

    Briones noted how people’s lives are forever changed by the coronavirus disease. After all, it is not the business that they will remember but the acts of kindness and generosity one has extended so that their families and loved ones would have something to put on their table, she said.

    She finds running the business in this time of instability challenging because of the various types of quarantine and restrictions imposed on each barangay, as well as people’s food safety issues.

    “Since I am into food business, I can guarantee that what we sell is clean, safe and yummy – the paramount of it,” she said.

    Briones noted how cash momentarily lost its might as it could transmit the new coronavirus, so she embraced the digital pay platform to be extra safe. Still, there are many customers who clung to cash as they do not have online banking, electronic payment accounts, etc.

    This fateful event is a call to rethink the way people do their businesses, she said.

    Noting the future of online selling for small businesses, she said it will flourish as the health crisis brought out people’s creativity that they dabble in all of the things they would not normally do such as baking.

    Imparting some of the lessons learned from running TinaPay Online during this turbulent time, Briones said a business must “adapt, believe, be indomitable, look after each other, and more importantly, weather the storm no matter what.”

    A backup plan is imperative in crucial times, think beyond the box and do not solely rely on what one has, she added.

    “I am in public relations for 13 years and who would imagine I became an online seller in just one snap of a finger,” she said, noting that one’s established good rapport with people matters a lot for the business.

    Briones assures she will deliver the same quality of products and services to her clients as she used to when people have been sheltered in place.