By Celia Alamo Jacob
Celia worked as an advertising professional in the Middle East. After years of being an expat, she experienced a curveball: she was sent to deportation jail because of labor issues.
In deportation jail, she met many Filipino women and heard their different stories. Much thanks to kind-hearted souls who helped her fight for her rights, Celia eventually won the case. She was so depressed because of what happened but it also reignited her fire in the game of life. The experience shifted Celia’s perspective.
Back then, she promised herself that when she gets out of that ordeal, she would help fellow women to start their own business and explore options here in the Philipines instead of working abroad and being separated from their families. Celia promised that she would utilize that opportunity as a way to pay forward those who helped her during my dark moments.
Today, we raise the Philippine flag to welcome badass creative entrepreneur Celia Alamo Jacob to The After Six Club’s Ambitious Tribe. Read on and be inspired by this woman’s amazing creative journey.
While in the Middle East, I created ProudNoypi Shirts, which showcased the different regions and sayings in the Philippines. The patriotic shirts I designed and printed were such a hit in the Filipino community in the Middle East. When I returned to the Philippines, I rebranded and launched the business in my home country.
Working and living abroad, my sense of patriotism became very strong. I wanted my business to echo “Lahing Kayumanggi”. So I came up with Brownroots, combining the words “brown”, which means “kayumanggi”, and “roots”, which represents “lahi” or lineage. Brownroots Creatives was established in 2015.
Today, I offer design services for t-shirts and corporate giveaways and consulting work for small entrepreneurs who want to start their own t-shirt business. I also have a small coworking space at 102 Domingo M. Guevarra Street, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines. I chose to be a “creative entrepreneur” because it allows me to have creative freedom to express my art and eventually turn my passion into profit.
What do you believe makes your business stand out?
We always find ways to understand the needs of our clients. We also use a personal approach when dealing with our clients since we are focusing on the expression of statements and arts.
Is it always necessary to be passionate about what your business is about in order for it to succeed?
For me, passion fuels us to really strive for success. But if you only bank on passion, it will be half-baked. We should also find our “why”, which is our purpose, and then our “how”, which is our plan. I believe that passion + purpose + plan = success.
How did you obtain capital? Were there investors?
I started very lean—with some equipment, skills, and a lot of guts. I was able to set up my business with the help of friends and family members who believed in my passion and vision.
It was just me and my kids initially. My son, River, would help me design. Hailey, my daughter, would help prepare the materials. Then, my life partner and I helped each other to make the dream work, coupled with a lot of good vibes from friends and support from mom and sister Mapi.
What was the turning point for you that made you decide that it’s time to put this business up?
When I realized that I can only be truly happy if I follow my passion which is creative entrepreneurship.
On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the importance of having a business plan?
Four. It is important to plan but timing is also a big thing to consider. You have to be ready to start even if the plan is not 100 percent complete.
How did you build your customer base? What form of marketing has been most effective for you so far?
I marketed our services first to my family and friends. Then I got some recommendations and the rest is history. I also feel that collaboration is another great factor for having a solid customer base.
How do you generate new ideas for your business’ growth?
By attending workshops, meetups, and community events I get awesome ideas from like-minded entrepreneurs.
What kind of company culture are you implementing? What are your core values?
Positivity, empowerment, and proactive culture.
How do you deal with major mishaps? What would you say is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
I just consider it a learning experience. Nothing really major. Maybe some issues with partners not aligned with my vision. I always advise people to trust your instinct.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Proactive problem-solving. I look at other options and opportunities when faced with challenges and find the best learnings out of all the setbacks.
What skills do you believe are necessary in handling a business?
Be reliable, honest, creative, smart, and keep it real. Be authentic.
What would you say are some dos and don’ts in starting one?
Start. Stay authentic. And always be creative. Don’t overthink and spend on unnecessary things. Don’t focus on negativity.
How much time did you spend working this business out? How long did it take before you started seeing results?
I gave myself five months to see results. I winged it until I make it. Thankfully, I got it right on schedule.
Was there ever a time you felt afraid that this might not work? How did you manage this fear?
I have always been brave and decisive. I don’t overthink. I always feel that if one thing doesn’t work, I can always change the plan but stick to the goal.
Do you have interesting business trivia that you want to share?
I am happy to share that my daughter already started her own line of clothing because she was inspired by my work. She wants to earn her own money for her travels.
Describe a typical day for you.
I wake up late, around 11:00 A.M. After checking my daughter, I take my first coffee at home before heading to the office. Sometimes, I work from home. I work on some design projects and proposals. Sometimes I have meetings and other collaboration projects until midnight.
How many hours of work a day do you put in? How many days per week?
I work approximately 15 hours a day. But I have a “free” work schedule. I can work any time I wish.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get here?
Late night work and missing some events because of work.
What can you consider is your greatest success?
I do what I do because I want to leave a good legacy to my kids. Same as what my dad did for me. My father’s generosity and good heart paved some roads for me. I am so grateful for this and I want to pay it forward by doing the same.
What would you say is the secret to success?
A grateful heart and just keep it real.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
What motivates you?
If it makes me happy, it is worth doing. I am also motivated by the goodness of the people around me.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My father, Ben Alamo.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
Ten years from now, I hope I am already a successful creative entrepreneur coach, helping Filipinos around the world. Hopefully, I will already have books about real women with real-life stories detailing how we proved that the comeback is stronger than the setback.
Do you consider yourself an ambitious person?
Yes, because for me, there is nothing wrong with having big ambitions or dreams. It’s free anyway. And if it will propel you to achieve your goals, having ambitions will inspire you and fuel you to push harder.
Do you think being ambitious helps you in business? How?
Yes. It helps you to have something to work hard for.
What piece of advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Connect and collaborate. Have a tribe that helps you thrive and always have a grateful heart.
Edits: Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla | Image Credit: Celia Alamo-Jacob
Maria Celia Alamo Jacob is a certified life coach handling starting over and midlife transitions for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and retirees. She is the owner of