Julieto ‘Oyos’ Mendoza knew that he had to act fast when the pandemic hit. His business, Purple Yam Homemade Cakes & Pastries, was deemed an essential service, which meant that he could stay open during the height of the pandemic.

However, he also knew that many other businesses were not so lucky. Oyos decided to use this opportunity to not only keep his business afloat but to also give back to his community by giving jobs to disenfranchised workers in his hometown.

YAMmy Yesterday

It began in the four corners of Oyos’s boarding house in Ozamiz City. After attempting to finish an engineering course at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, he went back to his hometown and transferred to Misamis University (MU).

Oyos grew up selling delectables made by his mother. In fact, his family strongly influenced him to embrace baking or cooking. But because he remained unsure of his life, baking did not yet come to his mind.

Now back in his hometown, Oyos decided to use his mom’s unused baking equipment. He first tried his luck with making a chocolate cake and selling it in a tiny canteen outside MU. He was greatly astonished when the chocolate cake sold out, prompting him to bake and sell cakes on a regular basis. He did everything by himself, including the menial tasks such as cooking, washing, and purchasing supplies.

From supplying a small canteen, Oyos’ small business evolved to baking cakes and delivering them to major shopping malls and other school canteens around Mizamiz. He then attempted mixing different cake flavors, resulting in various menus that he offered for birthdays, baptisms, and weddings.

How DTI Brought Out the X-Factor to Oyos’ Business

Oyor realized that out of his creations, the ube cake was a favorite. Seeing its potential, Oyos registered his business in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2013 and opened Purple Yam Homemade Cakes & Pastries.

But he also knew what he needed to learn more about business management. He is a baker, not an entrepreneur, so he must train and upgrade his skills to succeed in this business.

Oyos trained under DTI’s Kapatid Mentor ME Program in 2019 to further hone his entrepreneurial skills. The program helped him understand the market, learn the ropes of the food business, and manage his finances.

Most importantly, the mentors taught him the significance of strengthening his brand to set him apart from his competitors. In addition, DTI introduced him to intervention programs of other national government agencies to scale up his equipment. This helped ease the production of his famed ube cakes.

Now, Oyos is on his way to growing his business. He has started selling online and has even participated in bazaars and food fairs.

With the knowledge and skills he gained from the program, he is confident he can take his business to new heights.

The Pandemic Providence

In 2020, the pandemic swept the whole country like a storm. People from all walks of life were forced to retreat inside the safety of their homes to prevent getting the deadly coronavirus. While the majority of businesses were forced to close down or lay off people, Oyos’ Purple Yam Homemade Cakes & Pastries thrived and boomed.

In a span of six months, Oyos has established 12 branches and six outlets of Purple Yam in Surigao, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan, City, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Dipolog City.

Oyos considers it pure luck that his business was not severely affected by the current pandemic. As a matter of fact, there was not a single day when his stores were closed.

“Nagpadayon mi despite everything (We continued despite everything),” Oyos quipped.

Sharing His Sweet Success

Despite the growing success of Purple Yam Homemade Cakes & Pastries, Oyos never forgot to recognize the strong support system he had, including the farmers.

“The best thing about having this business,” shared Oyos, “is I help a lot of ube farmers.”

“Always bear in mind that if you go into business, it’s not only for your self cause. Provide kaayohan sa imo palibot (provide goodness around you) — workers, community, and people who helped achieve your goals.”

From renting a habal-habal, one farmer who delivers his crops straight to Oyos’ store progressed to renting a mutlicab because of the growing number of orders. Eventually, the farmer earned enough to buy his own multicab! This anecdote shows how much Oyos’ bakeshop helps farmers elevate their lives, too.

And the positive effect of Oyos’ business does not revolve around farmers alone but on the store’s other employees, too. As of June of 2021, the bakeshop and its branches have 94 workers and 12 business partners. Oyos is proud to provide a positive impact on the community.

An Appetizing Ambition

And yet, this accidental entrepreneur has no plans of stopping. The second wave of his goal includes launching 12 branches in other major cities such as Davao, Tagum, Digos, and Butuan. The more he expands, the more job opportunities he can provide.

Aside from branch expansion, he also aims to widen his menu. He is in the process of developing new products, including Brazo de ube, ube ensaymada, and more cakes made with natural ube.

Through it all, Julieto Mendoza has proven that it was not sugar, milk, or cream that could be considered the X-factor of Purple Yam Homemade Cakes & Pastries — it was the right timing and the right attitude to fulfill his goals. ♦