Starting A Business Amid the Pandemic: A Leap of Faith

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Eunice styled clothes for friends and family as a hobby. Through the digital marketing sessions of USAID, she decided to turn it into a full-fledged business.

Starting a business in the middle of a global pandemic may seem like a risky move, but Eunice Joy Gambalan saw it as an opportunity to capitalize on the growing digital marketplace and help her community.

Growing up, Gambalan designed and styled her own clothes. Her knack for designing and styling eventually gave her the reputation as her friends’ and family’s go-to designer. Little by little, she started to have personal clients who gave her commission-based styling services.

However, after participating in several digital marketing mentoring sessions put on by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Gambalan was inspired to pursue her passion for styling and designing clothes as a full-time business. In December 2020, the 42-year-old single mom of three opened House of J, a local online clothing line and professional styling service.

“The digital marketing sessions made me realize that pursuing a business in fashion is a worthwhile venture,” Gambalan explained.

Since June 2020, USAID has teamed up with private sector partners to support women in e-commerce, product development, digital marketing, and business model automation. Webinars and one-on-one mentoring sessions helped women entrepreneurs maximize Facebook and other social media platforms in promoting their business.

Gambalan’s House of J is just one of 3,100 women-led micro, small, and medium enterprises in eight Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner cities in the Philippines that USAID has strengthened through its digital marketing training.

Gambalan conceptualized the House of J with not only her passion for fashion, but also the welfare of an indigenous community where she grew up in mind–Barangay Rio Tuba in Palawan. Gambalan poured her passion and skill in fashion into reviving the indigenous culture by incorporating tribal designs.

Through USAID’s digital marketing sessions, Gambalan learned how to improve her business’s Facebook page, create engaging content, and apply product photography and graphic design techniques. A consistent and strong brand, Gambalan realized, could elevate the aesthetics for her fashion label. After applying these techniques, her House of J Facebook Page gained a 25 percent increase in likes and followers and reached 500 people with a single Facebook post.

“The quality of photos and posts encourages more customers to invest in a product and service that will not only help them stand out in a crowd, but also help make a better future for the indigenous people of Palawan,” said Gambalan.

Gambalan hopes that within five years the House of J becomes an international brand, but she also hopes that her business will improve the lives of those in her local community.

“USAID’s mentoring sessions gave me the confidence to put my passion out there. My business not only helps me, but also lets me support the local community through sustainable sourcing,” shared Gambalan.

Last updated: June 21, 2021

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