They say that gold is the metal of kings. But for Joahna and Lester Delfin, the owners of Golden Treats, gold is and should be the standard for bakers. It symbolizes their hard work, dedication, and passion for their craft. And it is this standard that has made them one of the most successful businesses in Pavia, Iloilo.

Tasty Tale of Tasty Treats

Having a background in nursing, Joahna decided to turn her attention toward developing food products. With an entrepreneurial spirit and love for cooking herself, she had

always wanted to make something that would be appreciated by the people of her dear hometown! With the help of her husband Lester, they established a small business that would later become a household name in Pavia, Iloilo.

When the couple started their small business, they had one dish on the menu: a delicious buko pie. Because of this, they called their small enterprise Golden Buko Pie. But as time went by and with success in hand — due largely to sweet-toothed customers — new items were added such as mouthwatering maja blanca desserts and cakes.

At some point, the couple decided to rebrand their business to appeal to a wider range of customers. Joahna and Lester said they wanted their bakery to be known for more than just buko pies and cakes.

“We want our customers to know that they can always find something new and delicious at our bakery,” Lester said. “We’re always trying out new recipes and ideas.”

The result is Golden Treats — a now booming Iloilo-based bakery specializing in Filipino-based desserts and treats.

When asked about the origin of the name of the business, Joahna said that they chose the word ‘Golden’ to emphasize the quality of their goods. Meanwhile, they chose ‘Treats’ because their products can be something that can be given or can be received like a gift.

DTI Helping Set the “Gold” Standard

Joahna and Lester attended the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) training on accounting, pricing, product presentation, packaging, concept development, and contingency planning through Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading (SET- UP) Program. After the training, they gradually put what they have learned into practice.

They encountered problems with preservation because their main product is perishable, especially since buko (coconut) is one of the ingredients. It spoils quickly because of the tropical weather.

The couple said that approximately 30% of the ingredients go to waste. This was why they sought advice from DTI and DOST on how to increase their products’ shelf life without relying on excessive preservatives.

Joahna and Lester worked on finding the right ingredients, proportions, and packaging that would make their product last longer. They also made sure to have a good stock management system. With the two government agencies’ assistance and the couple’s perseverance, they were able to improve the quality of their product.

The DTI’s programs and assistance helped Joahna and Lester gain more confidence in running their business. The couple also established a good relationship with their customers and suppliers, which is important in any business venture.

The Pandemic Presents a Sweet Opportunity

The couple were at the cusp of success when the global pandemic happened. Most people were told to stay at home to prevent getting the dreaded coronavirus, causing the business to lose its walk-in customers.

The pandemic presented a mountain of challenges to Joahna and Lester’s business. But instead of losing hope, they kept their focus and tried to stay on top of the situation.

When the lockdown began, the couple recognized the people’s need for comfort food. Seeing the opportunity, they quickly offered their products for takeout. To add variation, they included crema de fruta and cassava cake, two well-known Filipino desserts on the menu.

Even though hesitant to introduce new products in an uncertain market, Joahna and Lester pushed for it. They were surprised that the new cakes were well received by the general public. Asa result, their sales rose to 20% higher as compared to their pre- pandemic sales.

Despite the pandemic, one thing customers liked about Golden Tasty Treats was the steady price of the baked goods. While most businesses increased their prices to keep up with the sudden loss of customers, Joahna and Lester kept the price of their products at a reasonable level.

Aside from keeping the price of their goods mostly the same, Joahna and Lester said they standardized their recipes. This way, the customers will always get the same quality of treats every time they order from them.

“Sa mga start-up na negosyante, you have to find your mentor. You have to surround yourself with positive people. Mas maganda kung ang mga kasama mo ay ang mga utak-negosyante.”

“It’s really important to us that our customers can rely on us to provide them with consistent, delicious food,” Joahna said.

“We want them to know they can always count on us for a great experience.”

On the marketing side, Joahna and Lester’s bakeshop grew. Before the pandemic, their target consumers were individuals aged 40 and above, but now, younger generations also started to inquire when they began utilizing free online platforms like Facebook.

When asked about their secret, the couple said they don’t go for likes or comments on their online postings; rather, they just want their goods to be seen online so they may have a larger audience.

Getting the Gold

After almost getting decimated by the pandemic, Joahna and Lester continued doing what they do best — make people happy with their food.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, but we’re happy that we can still bring some joy into people’s lives,” Joahna said.

This just goes to show where Joahna and Lester Delfin get their strength and inspiration from. With this kind of mindset, they could surely find a solution to any problem that comes their way, allowing them to evolve their business to a higher level.

The gold in their business name is not just a name; it is a symbol and testament to their dedication to their craft. And that is the kind of standard entrepreneurs should definitely strive for. ♦