ECQ Turns a Celebrity Nail Artist into a Sushi Baker

With nothing much to do during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), most Filipino spent the majority of their time either creating food or eating it. As such, we have different kinds of food go trending, and people went crazy over them. Aside from providing satisfaction and nourishment, these trending foods also became a source of income for those people whose employment stopped or whose business had to cease operations.

Such is the case of Mimi Qiu Reyes, a celebrity nail artist who is also behind The Original Baked California Roll.

Mimi has been making baked sushi since 2015. Using her original recipe, she used to bake sushi for special occasions. Back then, her deconstructed sushi was a hit among her family and friends. She even recalls how her friends would fight over the last piece.

The owner of Mi & Me Luxury Nails had to temporarily close her salon because of the implementation of lockdown measures. With a lot of free time at home, friends encouraged her to sell her baked California recipe to the public. And the timing has never been perfect.

With a capital of P10,000, Mimi and her husband started producing baked sushi in their five-square-meter kitchen. They used the money to buy raw materials and for the packaging of their product.

“Promoting was through word of mouth—happy and repeat clients were the keys to our growth,” Mimi said.

They worked round the clock, and there were days when they only have two hours to sleep so that they can accommodate all orders.

The husband and wife team sold seven trays on their first day, and the sales doubled as days went by.

Challenges

Every start-up business faces a challenge. As for Mimi, they were getting too many orders at once. Her former clients, celebrities, and influencers alike, who shared her product on social media, kept the business alive.

“It was too many, and it became virtually impossible to reply to everyone—that made people furious,” Mimi shares.

They shifted to online ordering to be able to address this problem. Soon, customers can book a schedule for their orders through a form, which made the process more convenient.