Owning a business was nothing but a wild dream for the couple Yves and Kendel Bernal. They thought that it was impossible to start a business since they both hold permanent jobs in the government. Kendel is a nurse by profession at the Abra Provincial Hospital and the Yves was a clerk at the Regional Trial Court in Bauang, La Union.
But on December 2016, the couple challenged the impossible and started their own business.
The business initially started as a food cart called “Kristoff's Food Trike" following their son’s name. They customized their tricycle so it could accommodate a wide array of products such as arroz caldo, chicken and beef mami and chicken soups, ready for buyers at the Bangued Town Plaza. At 8pm, they would go to where Kendel worked, to sell the same items to her colleagues, other employees and carers of patients.
As the number of customers increased, they added other food varieties like beef pares and bibimbap which they cooked on the spot. The new items turned out to be their best seller and the most saleable item among the street food vendors. In just 7 months, they were able to earn considerable amount of money which they used to expand their business by starting a small canteen at their father's family house offering different snacks and meals. They also started accepting bulk orders on trays. They pursued more of their capabilities in engaging business as they saw how much they were earning from it. From time to time, they would go around the town to look for a better location with a bigger target market. On December 2017, they seized the opportunity to expand the business in a wider space with a bigger number of possible customers.
On January 29, 2018, Toff's Food Avenue was officially born as they moved to their present location. As they set their sights and goals higher, they thought of entering another line in the food business which is catering services. From there, they decided to quit their jobs to focus on their business.
Bit by bit, they borrowed money from lending companies used to buy supplies and materials needed for catering. They even tied up with other catering services to accommodate their new clients. They started catering to different government agencies and offices like DENR, DILG, and DTI to name a few. But the dream didn't end there, as they moved forward with their business, they perceived themselves as frontline among the caterers here in the town and having to extend their services to other nearby towns and provinces.
They as well foresaw themselves building a gilt-edged restaurant here in the capital town Bangued. And when Kendel chanced to know about the KMME Coaching and Mentoring of the DTI, she signified her intention and was one of the lucky mentees selected. She narrated, “It was in this program that we envisioned to be the most cost-effective restaurant and the frontline in catering services through a resilient system and outstanding manpower, serving the best of the best dishes here in Abra and in nearby provinces and set our mission to offer soundly valued quality food, served with urgency in a fascinating and modest facilities and with unconditional customer's/client's satisfaction under the precepts of service excellence. As an impact of the 10 modules of KMME to me and our business, many were realized and learnings were put into actions. The program is considered to be sagacious that helps local entrepreneurs to efficiently manage and level up their businesses. Moving from one module to another, it made me identify the best of every decisions to make. In Phase I of the KMME (Modules 1-3 Developing Business Sense), I notably jotted down the following learnings: Mindset. Like most of us say, you must have the heart and passion in dealing with business for it requires perseverance and belief in oneself to achieve success in any endeavor. I, as a young entrepreneur absorb challenges and embrace failure as a positive part of learning and growth process; Urgency. In dealing business, we must have the courage to prioritize and focus on what yields marks to achieve a definite objective. Through this, it will allow us to do things faster, smarter with less resources and frustrations; and People. As much as we value our customers, we should also appreciate every effort of our workforce. Hire well and treat them well, for they will be the best asset a business could ever have. In Phase II (Key Areas on Entrepreneurship), Happiness. It may be tiring, varied, and challenging doing multiple tasks but loving every masterpiece that you make brings ultimate happiness to your customer and to yourself most especially. My presentation of our Business Improvement Plan was awarded Best Presentation during our graduation as mentees. This served as my inspiration for I devoted full concentration during the runs of this mentoring program.
An immense appreciation to the DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY for selecting me as one of the mentees of the KMME program. It was a great experience having to know other entrepreneurs from other field of business and to be fully equipped with strategies and added learnings to set higher standards with our service and products as well as to expand the line of business that we have", she applauded DTI-Abra.