You may want to ask Mitchie Ganal. " The first chocolate cake I made was a disaster!" she laughs. "It was salty and rock hard. I followed the recipe but used rock salt instead of iodized salt because the recipe just said salt. I didn't know any better." That was back in college, where she took up Social Science in UP majoring in Area Studies. She considered shifting to Business Management but her mother discouraged her.
She muses that she has always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur. "It was always at the back of my mind even when I was studying or working. I started secretly selling stationeries that my mom bought for me (for my personal use supposedly) when I was in Grade 2. Not that I needed money back then but because I was happy selling them. When I was a bit older and had two younger sisters already, during summer breaks my mom would cook something or have something for us to sell in the village just to keep us busy," she recalls.
As in her younger years, she did not really need to engage in business; her salary was enough to get her the perks she wanted, but she found going into business fun and exciting.
She went on and worked for various companies. When UP Manila offered Masters Courses, including Business Management, she signed up without telling her parents until a few days before the start of classes. Although she did not pursue her business plan cum thesis of putting up an internet cafe and coffee shop, she found time to go into the buy-and-sell operation during the "ber" months.
What followed seems like kismet. Finding her Management Trainee job physically taxing (she headed three departments towards the latter part of her tenure), she decided to take a one-month sabbatical a year ago in order to rest, wanting nothing more than just to eat and sleep.
But finally having had time to think and not one to be idle, she thought of occupying herself with a hobby. Suddenly, her disastrous college experiment loomed large in her mind -- maybe she could redeem herself by going back to baking.
This time, Mitchie was determined to make it right. She bought and read a lot of cookbooks and enrolled in a short course at the Heny Sison Culinary School. She did not have much time to rest as it was October and the Christmas season was just around the corner. Starting with just two recipes--chocolate cupcakes and oatmeal cookies--she plunged headlong into the bazaar circuit, going from one bazaar to another together with her sisters who sold their own products.
To distinguish herself from her competitors, she focused on making bite-size mini-cupcakes; after improving her recipes, she expanded her business by customizing her designs according to her client's wishes. Orders poured in. She further grew her line by including cakes for all occasions. Although her most popular cakes are her pink birthday cakes, she wants to specialize in wedding cakes.
Now resigned from her job, she still gets calls from various companies to go back to corporate life; she has turned them down with no regrets. But she credits her work experience for giving her the right attitude and strategic knowledge that has served her well in her own business.
Mitchie is presently savoring the sweet taste of her hard work and perseverance. "At the moment, I am very much enjoying being an entrepreneur and the success I have, however small they are.
"I'm very happy and satisfied -- proud even -- that in so short a time, I have started this business and have pushed my limits with success. I didn't have any formal training in baking so I am really happy with what I have accomplished so far," she marvels.
"I've succeeded in the many challenges I faced while working for others. But the challenges brought about by starting the business and the demands of the clients are far from what i have faced in the past. And, i have not had enough of it yet. Maybe I wont ever."
Mitchie has come full circle.