A former janitor was able to turn his life around by going into the business of cosmetic manufacturing.
The story of Henry and Apple Raca has inspired many aspiring entrepreneurs to continue working hard to achieve their dreams. The couple owns the C and H Cosmetic Industry that manufactures several varieties of beauty soap and other cosmetic products. Together, they employ over 600 workers worldwide.
Born to an impoverished family, Henry was a former janitor of a pesticide company. He had big dreams and was able to finish a degree in education. While working as a sales agent, Henry met Apple who was impressed with his perseverance and determination in life.
Apple described Henry during an interview with Pep, “Masikhay po talaga siya sa buhay. Mula sa pagiging janitor, umangat siya ng posisyon sa pinapasukan namin noon. Saka mayroon po siyang pangarap. Gusto ko po talaga sa mapapangasawa ko ay yung may determinasyon at pangarap.”
When the couple finally got married, they immediately wanted to start a small business. Using the P5,000 they got as a wedding gift, the couple began making their own whitening soap.
Starting a small business
The couple knew how important customer satisfaction was to their small business. So, they hired a chemist and used natural ingredients to make sure their beauty soaps were safe for all. After securing their permits, they were able to get approval from Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
Marketing their products was one hurdle that every budding entrepreneur must face. Appple recalled, “Mahirap pong mag-introduce ng bagong product sa market. Noong una, wala halos tindahan na tumatanggap sa amin dahil hindi naman daw kilala ang aming sabon.”
But Apple and Henry didn’t give up as they personally went to the streets to hand out flyers and samples. They made use of their marketing skills as sales agents to make deals with store owners.
Apple said, “Pumupuwesto po kami sa harap ng mga tindahan. Sinasabi namin sa may-ari, pag may benta kami, yung tubo ay sa kanila na para lang payagan kami. Sobrang hirap po ng aming pag-uumpisang mag-asawa.”
Through their continued hard work, the couple won the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) CALABARZON Best Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) Adaptor for outstanding innovation.
This paved the way for couple’s business to expand their regional channel distribution. They also started having distributors in over 15 countries worldwide.
Apple revealed, “Nakatulong po yung GMP [good manufacturing practice] na ibinigay sa amin ng FDA at may halal certification po kami na local at international for our Muslim brothers and sisters.
“Mula po sa kakaunting production, umabot kami sa 40,000 to 50,000 ang daily production,” she added.
Business amid the pandemic
The C & H Cosmetic was also one of the many businesses that got affected by the pandemic. Apple shared that she knew they needed to change and adapt to the times because they have over 600 employees in need of a job. Thus, the couple decided to transform their business into an alcohol manufacturing business.
Apple said, “Mayroon po kasi kaming alcohol product dati. Natigil lang dahil di naman mabenta masyado noong umpisahan namin. Wala pang pandemic noon.”
“Naisip namin ni Henry, tutal nang pumutok ang pandemya ay kapos sa supply sa alcohol dito sa Pilipinas, i-activate uli namin ang production. Baka sakali…” she added.
They are also planning to expand their business and produce dishwashing liquid, fabric softener, and food supplements.
Word of advice
If there was a piece of advice that the successful entrepreneurs would like to share it is to live simply. Apple revealed they don’t like spending on lavish and expensive things.
“Hindi po kami marangya. Si Henry hindi bibili ng magandang kotse iyan. Masyado po siyang praktikal na tao. Sasabihin niyan, ‘Trak ang bibilhin ko para may kargahan ako ng sabon. Yung magandang kotse, di mo naman magagamit sa pagde-deliver,'” she said.
Related: For more inspiring success stories, you can read Former Janitor, Now Owner of a Pinoy Restaurant in Australia.