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Maggie: Tech as her best friend

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For women who dream of becoming entrepreneurs, it is easier to make that a reality because of online tools and technology that allow them to reach more customers and simplify what was once complicated and even overwhelming.

It has never been easier to communicate your idea or start a business online with today’s choice of easy-to-use tools offered at affordable prices. With GoDaddy Website Builder, people can create a beautiful, professional looking website in under an hour, even with a mobile phone, without having a lot of technical knowledge

Then, a familiar scenario would be a home-bound wife with time in her hands and a great idea that got stumped during execution. But that was before as in the case of Maggie Wilson-Consunji, the GoDaddy website has helped her cast a wider net for her furniture business.

“This is something we couldn’t do, say 15, 20 years ago here in the Philippines. If you were a small business, it was very, very difficult to grow and get your name out there. But now, with all the technology available, you can literally start your online business at home,” Maggie says during the “EntrepHERneur: Real Talk with GoDaddy, Maggie Wilson-Consunji and Friends” held recently at Casa Consunji, a café-inspired shop she owns and home to her uniquely-sourced furniture pieces at Acacia Ave, Taguig.

SHE now adds being an entepreneur to her long list of endeavors.

Maggie shared the stage with Tina Shieh, GoDaddy marketing director for Asia, and business partner Parul Shah during the interactive workshop focused on encouraging entrepreneurship for women.

Housewife to entrepreneur
To be an entrepreneur is a natural progression for Maggie, a result of where life and experiences lead her during a busy career as a model (at age 14), actress, and beauty queen.

“I got married and basically became a housewife and did absolutely nothing. And it drove me mad. I got really bored, and I went back to school. I took up interior design because I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to know the ropes, I wanted to know the words, the techniques and terms. Also so that I would be able to do our second home, since we hired an interior designer for the first one. For the second one, I did everything myself,” says Maggie, whose initial clients were her friends before she got her big break through husband, Victor Consunji.

As interior design involves buying furniture, Maggie says veering towards a furniture business was the natural trajectory. “I thought, ‘why not put up a business — a furniture business?’ That’s because I know where to source everything. And that’s when the concept of Casa Consunji was born.”

Negotiating skills
Maggie’s friend, Parul who is a beauty queen herself and her partner in Amazing Race, helps in sourcing the items and negotiating.

“She (Parul) is a fantastic negotiator. We wanted to give the consumers the best prices out there. Because if the suppliers didn’t give us a good rate, then the price of our items would be a lot more expensive.”

Parul chimes in, “With business, you have to be very very patient, especially at the very start. And what we learned is we needed to make ligaw. Yeah, we needed to court our suppliers.”

Casa Consunji has at least 20 different suppliers and most of these are small businesses.

“It’s part of our corporate duty. I feel that we need to support smaller businesses because we’re also a small business. We want to help small businesses get bigger,” Maggie says.

CASA Consunji’s tropical-themed furniture shop.

While a physical store would have sufficed, Maggie had to reach a wider audience. “Having a physical store is great because some people want to come in and see all the items, the pieces of the furniture, and touch everything and see the quality. But going online was really part of the plan. Because being online, you get to reach a much wider market.

Instead of just people from Manila, we could reach people from Cebu, Davao, other provinces, even from other countries.”

Growing the business
Through the website powered by GoDaddy. Maggie proudly says Casa Consunji already enjoyed a 30 percent increase in sales with customer orders from different countries in Asia and the US.

Shieh gave a demonstration on navigating GoDaddy Website Builder, and how to design and create a website optimized for both computers and mobile phones.

“It has never been easier to communicate your idea or start a business online with today’s choice of easy-to-use tools offered at affordable prices. With GoDaddy Website Builder, people can create a beautiful, professional looking website in under an hour, even with a mobile phone, without having a lot of technical knowledge,” Shieh explains.

She adds, “There’s nothing easy to start anything. So we’re here to hopefully encourage everyone to start something you have in mind. It doesn’t have to be a business. It can be a portfolio. It can be something you want to share with the public. It’s the interaction; I never know what’s gonna happen. And then with that technology, when you have a presence online, it’s easy for people to find you. It’s easy for you to find others. And then somehow, we can form our community — this is our step one to be part of the community.”

Maggie says that having a website is important because of the reach and the content. “Nowadays, people are very visual. And they’re all about social media, being online, and taking pictures. Creating beautiful photos and content, not just for your social media, but for your website is so important. You know, having a website makes your brand more legit, more professional.”

Maggie says women should not be afraid to go on business, even if that means making mistakes at first.

“I always feel like we’re governed by our own fears. And, you know, we always tend to double think each decision. Honestly, there’s no other way to do it, but to jump in. Business is all about taking risks, whether it’s an emotional risk or it’s a financial risk. The one thing that my husband taught me is not to be afraid to make a mistake, because that’s part of the learning process.”