As told to JOHN LEGASPI
Images by CEDIE SALIDO
Fruit Magic started in 1993. But my dad (Allan Escalona) began to manage it in 1999. Of the three of us, I was the one who was most involved with the business back then. It was very challenging, because my dad was (still is) the president and CEO. But I had him behind me all the way.
When I joined the business in 2014, I was only 23, I was assigned to the marketing department. So my job was super simple. I was tasked to create new designs for the business and improve our menus.
As I started to get more involved, I realized there were so many things I wanted to change. Apart from our HR services, I also wanted to revamp the store and make it more Instagrammable. That was also the year food delivery apps and fitness were on the rise. I remember talking to someone and they were serving around 500 customers a week. I was shocked. If I could tap those 500 people with just one brand, I could produce 500 bottles a day and I’m good.
But making Fruit Magic easy to deliver was among the toughest challenges I encountered. Our products were fruit shakes served in cups. We decided to put the shake in bottles, and it was a failure. The bottle exploded, the taste was compromised, and, worst, the juices had a short shelf life.
So we did our research and flew to the U.S. We learned that there was a proper way of preserving fresh fruit shakes—through cold press juicing. We studied it and brought machines to make our products ready for delivery.
In 2015, I established Pure Nectar.
This was the advice given to me before. You really have to look for something you have a competitive advantage on. My family is in the business of producing healthy beverages, so it makes perfect sense for me to create something along those lines.
Why should I venture into a shoe business if I don’t have the skills for shoemaking, the equipment needed, and the people to work with? If I’m going to start from scratch, then I’m not really ahead of the game. It’s going to be much harder for me to set out on this path.
The biggest advantage of mature entrepreneurs is that they’ve been through a lot.
I knew I needed to look at the feasibility of things in order for them to be attainable.
Another thing is that it’s important for me that my business should reflect who I am. One must go for things one is passionate about. It’s so hard to fight for a brand, build it, and grow it if you’re really not into it. I work out a lot and the business fits my lifestyle. So when people meet me they say, ‘Siya si Miss Pure Nectar.’ I didn’t plan that. It’s just that I really enjoy it, the fitness and wellness aspect of it.
So when you get into something, you really need to love it, because if don’t, everything is going to be irrelevant and meaningless.
To be a great leader, first and foremost, you have to be a great team player. You must learn how to earn the trust and respect of your team. Also being a leader is not measured by the title he or she is holding. A good leader should know how to listen well.
I think the biggest advantage of mature entrepreneurs is that they’ve been through a lot. I’m very lucky that my dad is here. He brought me around. We would go to lunches with his peers. It was fun because they gave me insights that helped me in the business. For me, the older generation is now more accepting of Millennials playing the game. There’s no discrimination, as long as the product is selling.
From a very young age, I’ve learned the responsibility of ownership and that’s the thing that has set things apart. Many kids these days will just get by for the sake of getting by. At a very young age, we were taught by our parents that we should work hard. Picking up that mindset has been a good training ground for all of us siblings. All of us now are into business. People ask us, “How did you jump into that?’ We owe it to our parents who have shaped us throughout the years until it comes naturally to us. We might have disagreements over budget and all, but in terms of the end goal of leading the business to a good place, that’s where we’re in unison.