As I have mentioned, it is one of my intentions for 2016 to feature inspiring stories of people who (like me) immigrated to Canada from their home country.
If you have been following my blog, you guys all know my immigration story by now. I thought, it will be also interesting to share stories other immigrants, and together let’s all find out what made them decide to leave their life in their own country, start anew in North America and how they faced the challenges to adapt into their new “home.” On this post, I am happy to share with you the immigrant story of a fellow Filipino, Aivel.
1. On coming to Canada… Aivel and her husband with their then 2-year old son came to Canada from the Philippines in 2010 as permanent residents.
2. On what she used to do… Before moving to Canada was in the field of sales and marketing, she quit her job as Sales & Marketing Officer in one of the largest insurance companies in the Philippines and moved to Canada. She brought more than 10 years of her work history with her.
3. On deciding to move to Canada… Just like any other immigrants, Aivel and her husband decided to immigrate to Canada because they want to seek greater opportunities in Canada, especially for their son. Her husband was actually submitted his application as a Skilled Worker when he was still single because 3 of his siblings are already in Canada. When they got married and had a son, he updated his application and added his family to his application.
4. On their first years in Canada… For Aivel and her husband starting from scratch was a challenge. Being new in a country where you have very few relatives was hard for them, it was also difficult for them to find a decent employment with lack of Canadian work experience and education. For a year, they have to with survival jobs, until his husband landed in to a sales job that opened up great financial opportunities. While Aivel strived to enhance her credential professionally, she had to take courses and get a volunteer job. It was in their third year in Canada, when they bought they purchased a house and car.
5. On her career… Aivel took up a diploma course and majored in Community Services Worker (CSW) and at the same time volunteered at a local non-profit agency that helps immigrants and refugees. After which, she became a Settlement Worker and Group Facilitator at the Immigrant Women’s Centre in Hamilton for two years wherein she assisted immigrants and refugees in addressing their housing, education, health, financial, language needs.
6. On deciding to become a mompreneur… When Aivel had her second child, she had a very difficult pregnancy, she suffered from severe case of morning sickness and couldn’t work. She missed work and did not even have a chance to prepare for the coming of her child. After giving birth, she also had issues on who will take care of her children, though, there are day care centers, and she thought that sending 2 children in childcare centers would be very costly.
7. On coming up with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Child… Because of her difficulties in preparing for the coming of her baby and still encountered the same issue even after she gave birth, she had difficulties on going out and buying staff for her children she find it hard to go out and shop because wherever she goes she has to bring her two little ones along. She then thought that if there was a way to shop for her baby without having to go out, it could have easier for her. These difficulties that she had coupled with her passion for resale (she thoughts that instead of throwing tons slightly used baby clothes outgrown by her daughter, she could put it into something more useful to her family by selling them.) lead her to come up with the idea to put up an online resale shop. Aivel and her and husband have always wanted to put up our own business. When they heard about BizSmartz Program, an Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program for Hamilton that offers intensive, hands-on training to assist the applicant to develop and implement a viable business plan, they did not hesitate to avail the program. Fortunately, they got accepted to BizSmartz and came up with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Child (TTLC).
8. On her online resale shop, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Child… Aivel thought that there must be moms like her that are also after the savings and convenience. She could relate to moms who feel that aside from working an 8-hour shift from Monday to Friday (even Saturday and Sunday in some cases), a mom still has a lot more responsibilities at home, from making sure that the house is clean to taking care of her children, she is also responsible to ensure that their expenses is within the budget. Unfortunately there are instances that the budget to getting new stuff for the little ones when they outgrown the stuff that they currently have is not set aside. This is where Aivel can help you, busy moms who don’t have time to shop physically, and at the same time want to save money will love TTLC. Not only that, aside from savings and convenience, we are very much aware of the campaign about protecting Mother Earth. That is why Aivel is also supporting the idea of recycling and reusing stuff. As far as Aivel knows, TTLC is the first online resale shop in Hamilton catering for kids.
9. On facing the challenge of a mompreneur… Since TTLC is an e-commerce site, their investment is also expensive, the website development and maintenance is costly. Aivel with the help of her husband put up TTLC in October of 2015, on their fourth month of operation, she still considers that they are still on the stage that at net loss. They have not reach the point that they are starting to collect the return of their investment. It was just her and her husband who would have to deal with all the details to make sure that everything is properly managed and done. Also, since they are in a foreign country, they also need to work double time to build their network. Finding a balance between work/business life and personal life is also a struggle. Starting a business takes up a lot of both of their time. On the average, Aivel works 7 days a week for 50-60 hours. Being in retail and having inventory is all hard work. As a mom and a wife, she needs to be good at balancing her mommy, wife duties and her business. Working from home has a big chance of creating distractions that might take away your focus from your business.
10. Her advise to aspiring mompreneurs (in Canada)… Here’s what Aivel has to say: (1) Launch a business that is something you are passionate and knowledgeable about. (2) Do not get into something half-baked. If you are not ready, then do not launch. Take more time to research, research and learn. (3) Networking is very important. Tell everyone about your business. Connect with people who can help you promote your business (from your community, from families, from friends, from friends of friends, from former co-workers) (4) Become a social media literate. FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the likes offer you free advertising so learn how to navigate the social media world and take full advantage of it. (5) Must have the support of your family (husband, children) as launching a business takes a LOT of your time.