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How online boosted a small tea business

Instead of giving up and shutting down our operations, we did a lot of cost-cutting.

Raffy Ayeng



Ana Lustre Malijan, Frotea owner, keeps her business running despite the challenges of the pandemic. (Raffy Ayeng)

For most business owners, 2020 had been a devastating year as the Covid-19 contagion made their hard-earned enterprises stumble.

A Palawan businesswoman, however, saw the pandemic as an opportunity to expand hers. All she needed were focus and firm determination to strive despite the uncertainties.

Ana Lustre Malijan, an engineer and small and medium enterprise (SME) owner, took pandemic as a break to review her tactics and make her fruit-tea business survive amid huge upheavals.

“I actually never thought that the pandemic would last this long during the first few days of the lockdown. But days turned into weeks and that’s when I realized that we must start rethinking our strategies, start moving forward and brace ourselves for the changes that will bring to all of us,” Malijan told Daily Tribune.

Her business was not safe from the lockdowns as she also suffered losses on the fixed cost of its operations like space rental and minor utilities. So, she cut costs by minimizing operational expenses.

“Instead of giving up and shutting down our operations, we did a lot of cost-cutting. Closing my stores never crossed my mind. Instead, we doubled our social media marketing and local advertising efforts,” Malijan said.

“One thing we accepted, first for us, is to move forward and accept the change. We focused all our effort online. We reached our customers at the comfort of their homes. We also partnered with local and national aggregators for our deliveries, that way we added additional revenue channels. Last but not the least, we made sure that our guests are safe and at ease when they visit our stores,” Malijan shared.

“FroTea”, as Malijan’s fruit and milk tea business is known, is now ready to battle with known milk tea brands in the National Capital Region. It is now considered the fastest-growing milk tea brand in the Philippines, with numerous branches now scattered in Luzon and the Visayas.

Launched in Palawan in 2012, Frotea’s products remain consistently high while maintaining a low standard retail price (SRP) for budget-conscious consumers.