As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered thousands of food establishments across the country, the food sector has managed to withstand the economic shock wave derived from it.
One category in particular that recorded a significant increase in sales was that of baked goods.
For Ms. Estela Robles-Villareal, owner of Bantay Bread located in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, this public health emergency provided opportunities for their bakery to boom despite of tough times.
How Bantay Bread started
Prior to establishing a bakery, Estela and her husband were into a jewelry business.
But since they have five kids, they thought of putting up a bakery business in 2009 at their lot along the highway in Bantay that will give them a daily income to help support the college education of their children.
Since the family is from Bantay, which is famous for its Church Bell Tower, they named their business as “Bantay Bread” with a slogan – ‘Naimas nga Pagbibingayan’ (Masarap na Paghahatian).
As their bread products are tasty and affordable, the business eventually grew so they decided to expand to two new locations.
Among their best sellers include the hopia and pianono.
And aside from bakeries, they also launched a salon and spa business.
Impacts of COVID-19 to Bantay Bread
Because of the pandemic, Estela closed the two other branches of Bantay Bread and focused on the main branch since they don’t have to pay the rent as they own the lot where it was built.
Through prayers and hard work, Estela said they have found a silver lining from the situation as their bakery benefitted from the pandemic and were able to expand.
She said that her twins, who went home due to the lockdown, are also of big help as they shared their fresh ideas and creative innovations which were applied into the business.
They hired a food blogger for the marketing of their products in various social media platforms; improved their food packaging as their products now come in presentable boxes; and opened the business to resellers in Ilocos Norte, Baguio City and Manila.
As a way of giving back, Bantay Bread shared their blessings to their employees and to people in need.
Now, it also offers a 10% discount to encourage people to have themselves inoculated against COVID-19.
DTI’s Assistance to Bantay Bread
In 2019, Estela and her staff joined the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) KMME or Kapatid Mentor Micro Entrepreneurs program which aims to help micro, small and medium entrepreneurs scale up their business through coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship.
“I am thankful to DTI. Pangarap ko talaga na makasali sa KMME kasi madami kang matututunan,” she said during the Tungtungan – Trabaho, Negosyo, Konsyumer program of DTI in the Ilocos hosted by Ms. Joyce Ann Segui-Sabado on Friday.
As advice to her fellow entrepreneurs, Estela said, be wise in spending money; know and understand the rules in doing business; and balance passion with wisdom.
For those who would like to order their baked goodies, you can check Bantay Bread’s products on Facebook and Instagram or contact 0917-700-7696. (JCR/AMB/PIA Ilocos Sur)