It’s no secret how much the economy in general has suffered because of the ruthless COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps no industry was hit harder than the events industry. With social gatherings both big and small being canceled left and right, the world was put on an indefinite pause. It killed the events industry as we know it, and everyone who used to depend on it struggled to get on a lifeboat.
The Philippines, of course, was no exception. The once-booming wedding and debut scene locally was not spared by the global health crisis, and seasoned wedding coordinator Rhed Sarmiento is just one of the many who saw things unfold firsthand. “Our industry was hit hard by the pandemic. With everyone restricted from doing social gatherings, most of the weddings and events this 2020 were postponed and rescheduled to 2021 or until the situation gets better. Some also decided to cancel their events altogether due to some personal reasons. Our income now as a wedding and event supplier has become very limited,” she admits in an exclusive interview with Preview. “Although we still receive inquiries and bookings now, they’re not enough to cover everyday expenses compared to our income before COVID-19 struck.”
Not one to give up easily though, Rhed had to be quick on her feet in order to adapt to the current situation she’s in. With an initial capital of only P3000, she mustered enough courage to put up The Rhed Plate. “We started with only one dish and a budget of P3000,” she recounts its humble beginnings. “I posted it in on my Facebook account, then friends from the wedding industry pre-ordered. A few days later, I added another dish. Before I knew it, I already had three dishes, and then it just grew from there. In just a few days, I was able to retrieve my initial capital and release new items on the menu.”
Rhed’s food business has since been thriving, and she’s but one of the many examples that give us hope in these seemingly desperate times. Below, we chat some more with Rhed, who shares with us some of her business insights on starting small—and why there’s no shame in being an online seller!
How did you come up with the idea to put up a food business?
“Being the type of person who’s always out and on the go because of meetings and events, staying home is really new and not normal to me. I’m the type of person who can’t stay home for 24 hours! So anxiety started to kick in as days passed by and there’s also this feeling of not being productive. I had to stay busy to keep my sanity. Apart from cleaning the house, I turned to cooking and baking.
“Since I’ve always loved to cook, I started exploring different dishes. I watched videos and searched online for more recipes to try. Whenever I cook, I usually post it on Facebook stories and send some to my relatives and friends. I’ve received a lot of positive feedbacks on the dishes, so that gave me an idea to finally try selling them… This was also our family’s business when I was young. We used to sell food in our neighborhood.”
Do you think being a seasoned wedding coordinator has been of help to you in managing your food business now?
“I can say yes, definitely! It has made me more organized with everyday tasks, so now I’m able to utilize the same skill sets in plotting our everyday menu, purchasing, marketing, taking orders, and coordinating deliveries.
“Being in the wedding industry has also helped me in terms of marketing our products. Our initial customers were fellow wedding suppliers, as well as former (and present) couples whose weddings we helped mount.”
What are your bestsellers from The Rhed Plate?
“Our best sellers include Sushi Bake, Beef Caldereta, Laing, and Lumpia. We’re also launching our newest product, Cheesy Beef Lasagna.”
What are your tips for those who plan to shift careers because of the pandemic or start their own small business as well?
“Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t hesitate to sell online, because online is our new market. Most of the people are staying home, so an online business would be a hit!
“But always remember, especially in these trying times, we need to be extra careful with our expenditures. So you better be mindful when it comes to all the money you spend. Start with a small amount only. Then from there, using your initial profit, you can offer another product. Don’t gamble all your money in just one sitting.
“Lastly, you should also make sure that you love what you do. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just enjoy it!”
For orders or inquiries, message @therhedplate on Instagram.