Good business opportunities are everywhere. Sometimes, all it takes is for us to take a closer look at what is already in front of us. For Crispina S. Singh, owner of Crissander Enterprises, it was nature that presented itself as an opportunity.
Crispina grew up in Loboc, Bohol. For her, nature has always been her playground. Massive trees were everywhere, an everyday landscape that painted her childhood. It is safe to say that her fascination with nature, particularly in woodcraft, started at an early age. Just like how nature takes its time to grow and flourish, Crispina’s opportunity took its time before it matured into the full-grown business that it is today.
“It [Crissander Enterprises] all started when my husband suggested that we make and export big handmade earrings for the African-American market. Although it did not go well at first, we still tried to push through it, shifting our focus on the local market instead,” Crispina shares. After doing plenty of research about the fashion industry, her team was motivated to sow seeds of hard work and dedication to break through the world of woodcrafts.
Initially, Crissander got only one skilled woodcraft worker and eventually hired more and trained them as they expanded operations.
While challenges are always present in business, like keeping up with the latest trends in the fashion industry, Crispina’s biggest challenge was finding the right people for the job–skilled workers who would turn pieces of wood into masterpieces of woodcraft. This was a challenge that she overcame with the help of her women workers. “Currently, we have six women workers. They do designs, product assembling, and assist in promoting our products,” she proudly shares.
Crissander now produces fashion accessories such as earrings, bangles, and necklaces made of wood. The firm also crafts souvenir items such as bookmarks, refrigerator magnets and keychains, wooden coaster, and picture frames. Wooden earring, however, is its best-selling product. For the export market, her product designs were based on the African theme so they can use their African wholesaler and distributor contact in the United States.
Aside from nature, Crissander draws inspiration from online sources such as Pinterest.
Crispina further attests to how women tend to be more patient and more enduring in the workplace. No wonder her first instinct is to employ more women workers in the enterprise. On occasions where large orders require extra hands, mothers and women groups are her go-to workers. She also recalls a time she partnered with Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI), a women’s group initiated by the Department of Social Welfare and Department (DSWD), for her TRASHformation Collection. It was a livelihood project that helped both the women and the environment.
Crispina’s raw materials are sourced from wood leftover from chainsaw cut which includes mahogany, jackfruit, madre de cacao, and white wood. Other materials include raffia, banana bark, and elephant twig.
Aside from finding the right people, Crispina is also grateful for finding the right training. Through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) flagship program that introduces technical assistance for MSMEs, she was able to raise P500,000 work capital from a P30,000 start-up fund in 2017. That’s a huge seed for growth!
Crispina also mentioned the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) program and e-commerce mentoring initiatives which linked her to vital players in the woodcraft industry in 2017.
The seminars and training she got from DTI and DOST enhanced her woodcraft skills especially wood cutting using the laser machine operation in the FABLAB Bohol. This FABLAB is a digital laboratory project of the DTI, DOST, Bohol Island State University, and Japan International Cooperating Agency that enables co-creation, product development, and innovation.
Innovation is important in our field of business, Crispina said. “There must always be something new, something exciting to keep thriving. We are planning to venture in bag making using raffia and rattan using sublimation designs.”
Like how water and sunlight spur growth to plants, so did these training programs enable her to grow the enterprise–locally and abroad, specifically exporting to the United States. She also utilizes online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Shopee to sell her products.
Last year, Crissander’s gross sales exceeded P1M. They made the breakthrough when they became one of the One Town One Product (OTOP) Hub partners in Bohol. This provided Crissander enterprise access to physical and online market along with other OTOP partners.
In Crispina’s own words, “Doing business is not easy. You should be resilient and be able to adapt to changes especially in times of crisis. And best of all, to surrender all your worries to God and just keep the faith.”
Crissander Enterprises’ story is a good reminder that businesses do not grow overnight. It takes time before seeds of hard work and perseverance bear fruit. So look around you! What opportunities are in front of you? That’s a good place to start.♦
Date of Release: 3 November 2020