updated 8 Oct 2011, 20:35
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Fri, Sep 09, 2011
Philippines Daily Inquirer
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'Mompreneur' gets best of both worlds
by Sharon Robas-Macawile

Not many entrepreneurial moms can brag about balancing family and business. But for Tessa Gomez-Coscolluela, owner of Travel Essentials, knowing her priorities coupled with a passion for what makes her happy prove to be the best formula for her success as a "mompreneur."

Although she did not come from a family of entrepreneurs (her dad was President Cory's press secretary Tomas "Buddy" Gomez), Coscolluela admits being entrepreneurial even at a young age.

She recalls selling stuff to her classmates in grade school. And even when she was already working "I would make shirts, paint on them and sell them."

But she also decided early on that once she becomes a mother, she will make sure to always be there for her kids.

It started around 2006 when Coscolluela, then pregnant with her second child, ventured into making baby bags known as Baby Martin.

"I was into baby bags and other baby items like diaper mats, etc. I started supplying Rustan's but as the kids got older I felt the need for other things like when we travel. Of course when you're traveling, you need to keep your things organized especially when you have children, everything has to be planned out and organized and all that. And that's how I came up with Travel Essentials," Coscolluela explains.

Wide range

Travel Essentials offers a wide range of organizers, bags and compartments making things neatly organized and in order when you travel alone or with the family.

"Basically my operation is really selling in the bazaars. Actually, in the beginning my stockroom was just in the house. I would just do things from the house. As it expanded, I felt the need for putting up a showroom," she explains.

The showroom in Makati, where she meets up with her clients, has been operational for two years now. She also accepts orders for corporate giveaways and supplies a few stores in the mall. She also has a display area in most branches of Powerbooks.

Although the baby bag line still exists, Coscolluela says it has to take the back seat: "In terms of flexibility, you can only make so much baby bags and in terms of marketability, it's only just a particular market … but Travel Essentials is really for the whole family."

She initially started with bag organizers until she was able to develop other designs that now reach about a hundred.

Workmanship and price

"Our main thrust is really to produce products with quality workmanship and at the same time have them at a reasonable price," Coscolluela says.

Travel Essentials products are made from locally sourced materials like canvass and other lightweight materials. Prices range from P150 to P1,500. Peak season starts during the "ber" months.

Coscolluela relates that she was able to put up her own "factory" last year although she still sub-contracts. She also stresses that more than the profit, she is happy to be able to give jobs to other people despite the lure of just buying cheaper products abroad.

"I want to give jobs to the Filipinos. Why would I help the economy of other countries … think in terms of craftsmanship, Filipinos are very good. They can do as equally good as what other countries can do," says the mother of two boys, Martin and Paolo.

She adds that her being practical helps a lot in the pricing and developing useful products.


"I'm really very practical. I go for function. When you look at my things it's all functional, nothing fashionable or anything because that's really my personality … I'm more functional more than anything. Normally, when I do products, I like to make it multipurpose. Example, if it's a wallet it doesn't really have to be just a wallet, it could be something else. There's always a catch to it. Everything has just to be used for something else," Coscolluela adds.

Some of Travel Essentials products include the passport case with pocket, multipocket document case, credit card organizer, toiletry kits, all-purpose tote, jewelry envelope and other travel and home storage organizers.


Bestsellers are the packing cube, medicine kit organizer, shoe bag, laundry bag and the travel media organizer, where gadgets can be safely stored.

Coscolluela says she is constantly doing business development and gets ideas from her travels abroad, from magazines, the Internet and even from clients who also give her suggestions.

"But as much as possible when I try to come up with the design I try not to copy exactly the same. I tweak it. Because there's always room for improvement - like adding a pocket, changing the material, making it bigger, etc. - depending on what I think would be suitable for me," shares Coscolluela,  a graduate of mass communication from the Assumption College.

"Every year you always have to improve. You have to outdo what you did last year. I have loyal customers already and I want them to be happy. I need to always come up with something innovative."

Coscolluela, who used to work in a hotel, and a former marketing manager of a real estate firm, is thankful at how she is able to give time for her family and her business.

"At this point I'm happy with how I make use of my time. At the end of the day, I'm a mom and that's really my priority. But I'm happy that I'm able to do [business] on the side. That keeps me going. Everything has to take the back seat when you're a mom. I'm so blessed because I have a balance of both. There's not a time that I'm not with my kids. I try to squeeze everything. Everything in life is finding the balance. You have to find that equilibrium in your life and so far I have it and hopefully I would be able to maintain it."

And to "momprenuer" wannabes, Coscolluela has this advice: If you really want something, as long as you know your priorities, just go for it. Do what makes you happy because if you're passionate about something it becomes play."

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