By Sol Vanzi
Lunch at the basement of the Gateway mall last week was unexpectedly light, bright, and healthy: a salad of fresh greens, quail eggs, and prawns followed by pork in mushroom sauce with heirloom red Tinawon rice from the Cordilleras.
For beverages, we had a choice of made-to-order guyabano, carrot, calamansi, and other vegetable smoothies. The vegetables and fruits come straight from the café’s own organic farm and harvested daily to ensure freshness.
It was, definitely, a far cry from the usual mall fare of breaded and deep-fried greasy fast food meals, so we wanted to meet the chef, who happened to be the lady we had come to interview: Dina Stalder, founder and head of the DS Stadler skin care enterprises and prime brains behind the DS Café adjacent to her skin clinic.
“Men and women who care for their skin watch what they eat and drink; our menu provides the calorie count and nutrients of every dish we serve,” Dina explained. “We even give out our recipes so they can prepare these at home.”
Her fascinating life story began not too far from Metro Manila, in barrio San Isidro, San Pablo, Laguna, location of her farm and laboratory that embody the realization of Dina Stadler’s childhood dream to help her hometown. She nurtured this goal even while working as a DH (domestic helper) in London.
Her interest in health and natural beauty aids led to studying herbs and other materials that cleanse the skin and delay the aging process. She started with a large stainless steel kettle. Through perseverance, Dina’s beauty products gained acceptance in the highly competitive field of skin care products and services.
“More than just a business wiz, Dina is a strong advocate for causes such as the environment and community development. Her company provides both employment and housing.
It would have been easier to build a factory in the industrial zone,” she admits. “Everything is set up for you. All you have to do is build and plug in.”
But as a daughter of a farmer, the grit and determination that served her well in business is something she applies equally to her causes. There was never any question of not just giving back to her hometown. Beyond that, she is empowering her town mates.
Dina’s was recognized with a blue ribbon award from the Laguna Lake Development Authority, an honor bestowed upon environmentally responsible businesses. At all levels of production, she is adamant about waste segregation and sludge/water recycling.
Working with the Mother Earth foundation, the community has also produced malunggay tea, mushrooms, and green charcoal.
Her work does not go unnoticed. Dina Stalder was chosen as one the honorees for vice-president Leni Robredo’s development program “Istorya ng Pag-Asa,” which aims to inspire less privileged youth to go for their dreams and never give up.
The beauty business is a competitive one and new trends and technologies keep popping up all the time. Both Dina and her daughter Diana keep up by attending courses, completing certifications, and learning about all aspects relating to body and skin care in Canada, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Soon, DS Café will open beside Diana Stalder branches in Calamba, Iloilo, and Bacolod.