Gawang Pinay Dream Wide Awake Products

Ella Regis and her husband, Christian, have always had a passion for coffee. Creatives at heart, they were naturally drawn to cafes for relaxation and find inspiration for their projects—Ella as a writer-artist and Christian as a photographer-writer.

Over time, they learned that coffee is both an art and science, but it was only when the third wave coffee movement hit the Philippine shores that she and her husband got into the craft of artisanal coffee.

Gawang Pinay Dream Wide Awake Employees

In 2014, they got their Barista 101 training from Barista & Coffee Academy of Asia (formerly Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy or PBCA). From there, they started honing their craft and decided to put up their own mobile cafe business called Dream Wide Awake at Sta. Lucia, Pasig City in September 2018 with a little less than P100,000 as an initial investment.

Ella eventually left her corporate job to get into their business. As budding entrepreneurs at the time, they began bringing their mobile cafe to different pop-ups and events. “We’ve met wonderful people on our entrepreneurial journey. We’ve explored more sustainable ways of living and doing business and it became our advocacy,” Ella shares.

“Locally grown produce also has sustainable and economic benefits, so we’ve decided to source local ingredients and participate in fair trade as gratitude to the farmers who thoughtfully grow the crops that we use in our business,” Ella adds.

As with any starting business, however, Dream Wide Awake has faced challenges. “It’s a roller coaster ride! As an events-based company, we experience the ‘feast or famish’ effect,” she says talking about the stark difference in demand between peak and lean seasons. While they are just a team of two, they make it work with Ella as the brain, generating ideas to grow the business, and Christian as the brawn, managing daily operations.

“Women and men have various levels of strengths. Women are good at multitasking and have good attention to detail. This skill makes it easier for me, as a woman, to come up with ideas,” she mentions. In the face of the pandemic, they have learned that a business’ lean seasons can extend well beyond initial projections, so they have to be agile and learn to adapt.

“Plan B isn’t really that bad at all, because it may even lead to a better path than we’ve originally planned.” Ella cites, “[Women] have a huge capacity for challenges, and this gives us a better fighting chance at innovation in the face of unfortunate situations.”

When dealing with challenges as a woman Ella shares, “I find value in knowing who I really am and what my strengths and weaknesses are. There are still a lot of patriarchal notions that try to impose societal constructs on women. […] I think of [overcoming those notions] as our journey as a nation—we’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.” She finds hope in how more women are taking charge of their lives, households, and businesses.

Angela Regis

With support from her mentors and classmates from the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) program, Ella was able to gather the strength and courage to face the business challenges that arise. Their mobile coffee shop has also been present starting October 2018 in DTI’s trade fairs giving them the chance to share their passion for all things brewed—coffee, tea, or cacao—with more people.

For coffee enthusiasts, Dream Wide Awake’s bestselling product is the cold brew – premium coffee steeped in filtered water for hours. For those who love chocolate, the company offers Peppermint Mocha Tablea (Cacao tablea drink with espresso and natural peppermint flavor).

For healthy advocates, they have Cashew Milk, sweetened with Coco Sugar, great for customers who have dietary restrictions and are lactose intolerant.

Aside from coffee, Dream Wide Awake serves pure plant-based milk (cashew), raw cashews, tsokolate tablea, and wild ginger tea. Recently, Ella and Christian have been attending seminars on the organic whole foods plant-based lifestyle, the learnings of which they plan to apply to their business by complementing their drinks with snacks that include raw cashews, tsokolate tablea, and wild ginger tea.

Before the pandemic, their mobile coffee cart is equipped with all the materials they need to function as a coffee shop – espresso machine, nut-milk maker, accessories, raw ingredients, among others. During this pandemic, they parked their mobile cart and started selling products online with all their equipment at home. They have also expanded their virtual facilities – a new website with the ordering capability and updated social media accounts.

Dream Wide Awake Facilities

Ella says that the pandemic has made people more aware of better, healthier, and more sustainable ways to consume products, including coffee. “Therefore, we are currently working to start partnering with stores and businesses that also share our advocacies. Through retail, consignment, we can build up our network,” she adds.

After the pandemic, the firm may start serving events again as well as build mobile shops in malls and schools. They want to show customers a better way of drinking coffee, so they are contemplating placing mobile shops in malls and schools.

This is only the beginning for Dream Wide Awake. From locally sourcing the needed crops for sustainability, their dream is to collaborate with women communities and other marginalized sectors. “We may not have women employees yet or women communities that we’re helping [but] as of the moment, we’re using pandan bags made by women weavers [for] our packaging, and we’re hoping to do some more in the future.”

The future looks promising for this business. What started as a seed of inspiration and passion grew into a full-blown dream come true for Ella and Christian. While it isn’t always easy, Ella is headstrong. She shares these parting words for women looking to also achieve their dreams, “Know the real you, and stay true to who you are. […] You’ll always be where you’re supposed to be—regardless of the challenging situations around you.”♦

Date of Release: 15 October 2020