Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Ordinarily, gifts are wrapped in fancy paper or cloth and finished off with a colorful bow of ribbon. But Kaye Catral discovered a new way of presenting gifts on kid occasions like baby showers, baptisms, and birthdays.
"They're known as diaper cakes. They look like cakes, but are made out of non-edible stuff like bibs, blankets, diapers, and pacifiers," says the 31-year-old mom who owns and manages Nappy Cakes.
At P850 for single-tier, P1,000 for two-tier, and P1,500 for three-tier cakes, Catral's cute creations also contain a rattle, a teether, a receiving blanket, a burp cloth, a bib, feeding bottles, a brush, and a comb. Placed on top of a cake board and wrapped with tulle, they come with a recipe card and a personalized gift card. Clients can choose from cartoon themes such as Winnie the Pooh, Baby Mickey, Baby Minnie, Sponge Bob, Precious Moments, among others. Her other product lines-toddler, towel, and bridal cakes-cost a few hundred pesos more.
"Some people think they're expensive, but the same products go for about $70 in the States," says Catral. But she adjusts to her customers' budget so more people can enjoy her handiwork.
Catral herself saw her first diaper cake in an episode of the sit-com Sex in the City where the character Miranda received one during her baby shower. Inspired, Catral - who used to sell handmade hair accessories at bazaars - tried her hand at making diaper cakes, which she gave to friends as gifts.
"It actually took a few attempts before I was able to perfect them. I don't even know how I got my first customers. I simply started getting a few orders a month." And these non-edible cakes have become a huge hit. The first of their kind in the Philippines, they have always been the main attraction at parties.
Catral, who has two-year-old daughter and a marketing job, was content doing Nappy Cakes on the side, and was actually fending off a few partnership offers because that would require her to commit to the business.
What changed her mind was a trip to Seattle in May 2004, when an aunt, Edith Lopez, convinced her to start her diaper cake business. "She didn't want me to partner with anyone else, so she gave me P50,000 as initial capital," she says. "There was definitely a risk in starting the business, but my aunt didn't pressure me. If the business didn't work out, she said to think of the money as a gift."
Soon after her return to the Philippines, Catral set to work on her new venture, but without giving up her full-time job. This allowed her to use her aunt's money for buying her initial supplies - hairbrushes, ribbons, towels, bibs, and other baby stuff.
The professional relationships she developed in her marketing job helped her get various high-end products from distributors at a lower price. She insisted on getting only quality products because "as a mom, I know quality is important."
To price her products, Catral uses "tiangge-style" accounting where she simply adds all her expenses and tacks on a 20-percent mark-up.
News of Catral's fancy gifts spread by word-of-mouth, in e-groups, and through a few features in major newspapers and magazines. In early 2005, she had over 30 corporate clients, including Makro and PLDT, and enough individual clients to fill her two mobile phones' address book. She was getting an average of 10 orders a week, with a monthly profit of P30,000.
"It's still fairly easy for me. I spend about three hours a night finishing my orders. During this one rush job for Marvin Agustin, I made a two-tiered cake in 16 minutes!" Once in a while, Catral turns to her daughter's yaya for help. "She can make the one-tiered cakes pretty well, but the larger varieties just don't look the same."
Catral soon discovered a downside to being successful: Copycats. "That was when I decided to register my business with the Department of Trade and Industry. I actually had a hard time registering the name Nappy Cakes because they didn't understand that I wasn't selling cakes. They thought I was trying to deceive people!"
Until now, Catral has to explain her product to potential clients, which allowed her to put her marketing skills to good use. She uses different venues to promote and sell her products, as well as engages in exchange deals, participates in baby and kids shows twice a year, and forges tie-ups with event organizers. "There's also the need for constant innovation. Copycats and competitors are natural, so I just make sure that I maintain my standards and continue coming up with more products."
With an additional P50,000 from the same aunt, Catral came up with a new line called Baby Blooms - tiny towels rolled up into rose buds -and is looking forward to opening a stall this year so more people can see and appreciate how she could turn ordinary materials into something creative and fun.
At Nappy Cakes, you can have your cake but you can't eat it, too - literally - because it's a company that makes creative, albeit non-edible gifts for baby showers, baptisms, and birthdays.
By Katrina Tan
Small & Medium Business
Posted on 12:24 AM | 1 Comments | Email Story To Friends | Subscribe Via Email
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is her products open for franchise? if yes pls give us details. Thanks
said this on Monday, June 04, 2007 10:42:00 AM
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