Parting ways with her employees when her small businesses shut due to the spread of the coronavirus last year was painful for Jonah Mallari Aure.
She was at a loss when the enhanced community quarantine was declared in March last year. It was like the world had ended for her and her crew.
Aure asked her employees to rejoin their families and keep them safe, but she could not assure their livelihood as she had to close her catering business for the meantime. It stretched to months, and then a year as the global health crisis lasted longer than it was initially expected.
No more weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions. Gatherings were banned.
Aure’s JACI’s Sweets and Catering was just one of the badly-hit businesses by Covid-19.
“I was so scared not just for my business, but the security of my family,” she said.
Escape, Aure related, was her first response to her various concerns then.
“I immediately evacuated to Cavite. It was apparent later on that this catering business and my bakery will end since people’s movement was limited.”
As schools were closed, her bakery could no longer supply bread to some schools in her community in Manila. She also had to refund the advanced payments and reservation fees for all the canceled services she had earlier booked.
“My heart bled for my trusted employees who lost their jobs during that time. I had to minimize costs. I explained to them how bad the situation was, that all of us suffered,” she narrated.
She saw light when the general community quarantine (GCQ) was declared, but getting back on her feet was not easy.
“Small bookings came, but still the number was still limited. Some preferred food packs since buffets were still barred due to less social interaction. So even under GCQ, bookings were few. I just said, ‘let’s go with the flow,’” Aure stated.
Online selling gave her business new hope.
Aure pivoted to accepting food packs, viands, even cakes and pastries.
“I re-skilled myself to learn new recipes. I also added more homemade products, such as cassava cake, empanada, and embotido. I pushed my baking and cooking skills to the limit in order to secure a good stance in the online business world,” she told Daily Tribune.
Then it clicked.
The upside of her situation means she has more time for her family now.
“I almost forgot about my family when the catering business was booming,” she said. “I have more time for my husband and kids now, and that’s welcome.”