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  • By: Mina Cunanan
  • Jan 18, 2021

Meet Katrina Cacal, the Go-Getter Gen Z Entrepreneur

Katrina Cacal started her entrepreneurial journey when she was 14, selling lip tints and makeup on social media, mostly to her friends and family members. She has since grown her business, expanded her product offerings, opened a brick-and-mortar store in Metro Manila in the Philippines and launched on one of Southeast Asia’s biggest eCommerce platforms.

“What really prompted me to start my business was my experience buying these products for myself. It was inconvenient and the shipping fees were expensive, and so I thought of reselling these products as a means to make it easier and cheaper for other people to buy these goods,” Cacal said.

At such a young age and with no experience in doing business, Cacal struggled at first to get her enterprise off the ground. “At the start I was quite embarrassed to message people I knew, to ask if they wanted to buy lip tints from me. I thought to myself, ‘Would this work out? Should I continue to do my reselling?’ I had a lot of doubts about it at the beginning,” she said.

Her persistence paid off. Word spread, orders multiplied and her customer base grew. To meet her customers’ needs, she branched out into selling clothes, mobile phones and accessories. In high school, she became the go-to person for those looking to buy trinkets and knickknacks. Customers would send her messages online and within a few days, they’d get what they ordered.

With demand growing, Cacal opened a brick-and-mortar store and hired an assistant to help with day-to-day operations. Still, she has to balance schoolwork with running her burgeoning business, juggling supplier meetings with homework and school deadlines. Her day usually starts at 8 a.m., which is when she deals with online orders before starting her day at school. There are days when the balancing act is tough, Cacal admitted, but she’s managed to cope, she said.

That can-do entrepreneurial spirit pushed Cacal to join the LazStart programme initiated in the Philippines last July. Though she had been in business for a few years, she wanted to learn more about growing her venture, especially on a big platform like Lazada.

“I heard about the LazStart programme through Lazada’s partnership with Treston International College, where I’m currently taking up an accountancy course. Since I already had an online business, I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain more knowledge to use for my store,” Cacal said.

The LazStart programme was established to introduce young entrepreneurs in high schools and universities to the intricacies and possibilities of eCommerce. “The programme combines basic concepts and principles of entrepreneurship, as well as modules on upskilling to adapt to digital platforms and help amp up knowledge to build a successful business online,” said Jacqueline Fuentes, chief customer officer of Lazada Philippines.

Cacal explains her enthusiasm for LazStart: “My experience with LazStart was great! It not only gave me an opportunity to meet like-minded people, but I really learned about how to be a better businesswoman and stand out among my competitors.

“LazStart helped me fully understand the online world and how eCommerce works. Before, I wasn’t really familiar with it. I just did my business the way I knew how – through messaging buyers and coordinating payments and logistics manually. The experience I have gained from the programme has really helped me to become a more efficient online seller, and provide better service for my customers.”

After completing the programme, Cacal decided to open her store, Jomarkat General Merchandise, on Lazada.

“I chose to onboard on Lazada because of the convenience it provides me as a seller,” she said, describing how the platform provided her with the operational and logistics support to launch and manage her eCommerce business. “Fulfilling orders has definitely become much easier and faster with Lazada. It takes worries off of booking couriers and making sure the right packages arrive to the right customers,” she said. The tools on the platform have also allowed her to build more trust and better relationships with her customers, she added.

Fuentes of Lazada Philippines said: “We’re happy to see how our programme has helped budding young entrepreneurs such as Katrina jumpstart their businesses online. Our goal with the LazStart programme is to continue to help educate the younger generation on the world of eCommerce, arming them with the skills and knowledge to be successful entrepreneurs in the digital space.”

Starting a business is difficult at any age, but Cacal believes that hard work really is the key to building a successful venture.

“My advice to others like me looking to start is to just do it now,” Cacal said. “There will never be a perfect time to begin, so you just have to trust the process and put in the work to make your business a success.”

Mina Cunanan is an associate in Lazada Philippines’ public relations team handling corporate affairs.

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