Mitzi Ilagan | ExecutiveChronicles.com | Hop Into Kiko and Elsie Blanco’s Purple Beetle | Ever wondered why themed cafés and restaurants suddenly pop up one by one all over the metro today? It has become a hyped-up trend, with ideas almost the same as one another. Though, most people, especially millennials, could not resist but visit them whenever convenient, even when they’re too crowded or too far away from their place.
Meanwhile, in the South, that happens too. The Purple Beetle Café, on its 3rd month, gets all jam-packed with customers fancying on matcha shakes and Instagram-worthy corners. But, this place’s got a whole new experience waiting for their customers. It isn’t your ordinary, overpriced café.
Elsie and Kiko Blanco, the owners of Purple Beetle Café, really set their standards apart from the usual coffee shop that most people get into. The café has become an outlet for their love for food, cooking, and arts & crafts. The couple have worked as IT specialists in Singapore where they were well-off and comfortable, but there was still one thing that’s missing. They couldn’t do what they love and they couldn’t pursue their passion with that kind of job. And so, they have set a limit for themselves, to work abroad for 1o years, and then head back to the Philippines to create something awesome.
Before the Purple Beetle Café, they had an online store called Purple Beetle, where they sell Bohemian headbands, TheBracelets, Mandala blankets, cushion covers, dream catchers, and the like. It was a whole new world working on a café compared with an online shop, given that you would interact face-to-face with your customers. In a café, everything that you would present should be in order and pleasing because even the smallest detail could be seen. Unlike in dealing with the online shop, Ms. Elsie says that even when you haven’t arranged your table yet, you could process the orders as you take your breakfast. Two years ago, Elsie collaborated with a friend in opening a coffee shop similar to Purple Beetle, but that, too, was different from running her own.
It wasn’t for the fact that coffee shops were becoming a trend that they decided to put up one, but because they really wanted to do. It is not just jumping into the bandwagon, it is pursuing the passion.
The Purple Beetle Café is now on its 3rd month, and still, people keep coming back in this spot in Lipa City, Batangas. The secret? They’re a little bit of everything. In this coffee shop, you could find hot drinks, frappes, burgers, pasta, desserts, and rice meals. If you are to visit the Purple Beetle, aside from its artsy interior and good (and unique!) food, customers could take a box of pens and crayons and start coloring their mandala-themed coloring sheet, grab a book from the shelf, or enjoy a game of Jenga with their friends.
With all these, there are times when the staff have to do the tasks not assigned to them to be able to attend to the orders of the wave of customers visiting the shop. Elsie and Kiko even work just as how their staff do, because they see to it that they are 100% hands-on in running their shop. “When you put up a business and you still work like your employees, you still couldn’t consider yourself as a businessman, but rather, self-employed,” Elsie explains. She humbly consider herself one. Despite the difficulty in doing such, Elsie manages to allot time for herself, to her family and to her kids.
The Purple Beetle’s Journey
The couple may have left their comfortable life abroad, but where they are today is where they surely are having fun. As young entrepreneurs, they took the risk of putting up a brand that tells everything about themselves, and to this day, (fortunately and through their efforts), its success is clearly visible as more customers flock to this place, eager and excited to hop into the purple beetle. There sure are lots of competitors around the area, offering similar food only varying in prices. Elsie does not mind that the nearby cafés are already known before they even had the idea of opening one. She sees them as inspiration to create more exciting and interesting food menu and even interiors so that the people would choose them. She puts her mindset to her café alone, focusing on what they have and what more they could have and get.
In only a span of three months, there have been some people already who were asking about terms on franchising Purple Beetle at their preferred locations. It was overwhelming for Elsie, that people nowadays are more open-minded with art-themed spots like Purple Beetle, and that more and more people get interested with the business. Instagram really did a lot of help, as it is where the online shop started.
If it wasn’t for her eldest, Ely, who wished to have a purple beetle for her 4th birthday, the café wouldn’t be really where it would be right now.
To everyone, especially millennials, who gets inspired with the booming industry of restaurants and cafés today and would like to start their own, here’s Elsie’s advice:
Think of a brand name which reflects your personality, your hobbies, or what you love. No matter how risky it may be, if you follow what you love, if you do what you really want to do in life, regardless of the countless times that it could fail, you wouldn’t regret it because in the first place, it is something you love. It’s worth trying.