Entrepreneurship In the Press Inspiring Women

Game Changer : My Interview with People Asia

January 24, 2018

Speaking of still trying to catch up with my backlogs…I am sharing with you now one of my best and shall I say, one of my favorite interviews thus far. This was with People Asia, and this interview came out in their December 2017 issue. I was part of their GAME CHANGERS feature.

I myself couldn’t believe that I was included in the GAME CHANGERS of 2017 list! The other notable names with me were : Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurztbach (on the cover), Paul Andrew of Ferragamo, Dr. Jennie Francisco-Diaz a well-known dermatologist, Richard and Rebecca Mills of Asia CEO Forum, Rebecca Plaza, a young and talented architect, Grant Lim, a successful businessman and Jun De Leon a well-respected photographer.

And then, there was me. Yup, me : a mom of three, a lifestyle blogger and a new entrepreneur. How do I even compare to all the others in terms of their titles and recognitions?!

So here I am truly grateful for this honor! Yes, I may just be a mom, a blogger and a small entrepreneur — but this is what I am proud of : I LOVE WHAT I DO and I GIVE IT MY ALL. I am driven by my passion and I am inspired by my family. I also believe that no matter how “small” you think you are in the eyes of the world, if you do your job to the best of your ability, with utmost humility and honesty, you will be rewarded with a certain kind of peace and a deep sense of accomplishment. And that to me, is real success — one that cannot be measured by money or accolades.

I do admit that I still have a long way to go… and I am continuously learning and trying to improve at my craft. But I am thankful for this opportunity. Thank you People Asia for sharing my little game changing story to your readers. My utmost gratitude to editor-in-chief Joanne Rae Ramirez and writer Paolo dela Cruz.

Here are some excerpts from the interview…

MUMMY KNOWS BEST

“Happy wife, happy life,” says the proverb for men. But being a “spoiled mummy?” Now there’s a phrase some women can start thinking about.

“In many ways, we moms want to spoil our kids and husbands with love and affection. But who spoils us?”

In 2012, Grace Barbers-Baja was a happy wife and a happy mother blessed with three loving kids. But even a decade of wedded bliss couldn’t stop Grace from asking the question that has inspired movies, novels and TV shows alike since time immemorial: “Is there more to being a mom? Being a woman?”

Perhaps it’s efficiency, that uncanny ability to juggle her tasks as mother and wife, and still have more time to pursue other things. Perhaps it’s a good support system… Whatever it was, the young mother soon found that she had quite a good amount of time in her hands. 

Aside from being a domestic goddess herself, she wanted to be a voice for other women who themselves could be the goddesses of their own homes if they only knew how. Thus, the ‘Spoiled Mummy’ was born.

“I wanted something about moms, because it’s been my life for a few years already. But of course, I wanted a powerful description of what kind of mom I wanted to be,” says Grace during our interview in her beautiful home. Charming was too sweet. Elegant was too haughty. Graceful was too fancy. But spoiled? Now that’s a word most moms can relate to.

“In many ways, we moms want to spoil our kids and husbands with love and affection. But who spoils us?” says Grace. With that thought resounding in her head, she started her blog and started posting about her life as a mom. Make that, “mummy,” with a “u” for a dash of Brit flair.

She’s every woman

“Maintaining a blog is not as easy as it seems!” Grace reveals with laughter. She writes her own articles, covers her own stories, edits them, photographs them, and posts them on her website, TheSpoiledMummy.com. Even the spirited young woman, who used to work as a marketing and events executive at a top retail conglomerate, admits to having had second thoughts about it after a few years.

But like in most cases, the voice of other moms inspired this ‘mum’ to carry on. She would receive letters and emails from her followers, and they would even thank her for opening up their minds to the idea of spoiling themselves on top of spoiling their families.

Her knack for blogging quickly revealed itself. Soon, the once faceless blogger became the face and voice of moms everywhere (including those residing abroad). Her army of women, mostly moms aged from 25-55, turn to her for entertaining tips and other pertinent advice. The numbers continue to grow.

Naturally as a blogger with a growing influence, Grace found herself on the guest lists of home and beauty product launches, as well as other events that would appeal to moms. Whenever she posted stories on certain brands, she would get additional inquiries on where to buy them. And that’s when another idea took hold of this spoiled mummy’s heart.

“Why not do it myself?”

“If I could sell other people’s brands, then why don’t I just make my own brand to sell?” So in 2015, Grace Home Manila was born. Ambitious but prudent, Grace first dabbled in something simple yet appealing to her market — scented beeswax candles and room fragrances.

Just like when she’s making entries for her blog or taking care of her family, Grace makes sure that her products are always packaged with flair. For instance, her soothing beeswax candles are placed in glasses that come with marble lid covers that double as coasters.

In 2015, she expanded her product line to include porcelain tea sets, as well as Bohemian glassware that she selected from the Czech Republic. She also started selling skincare products like hand soaps and lotion. So extensive became her product line that they merited their own website. And so, Grace gave birth to every spoiled mum’s shopping paradise: GraceHomeManila.com.

While the success took Grace by surprise, the challenge soon became easy for her. Yes, she was enjoying her time as a blogger and entrepreneur, but there was one thing that she’s always wanted to deal in but never truly had the confidence for. “I love food. I like to cook, but I’m not a chef. So if I will come out with food, I want it to be really special and undeniably delicious!” she says.

Grace then turned to her kitchen, to suppliers of the finest ingredients and to burning the midnight oil. She even turned to her children who are now aged 14, 10, and 7, and transformed them into a little team of taste-testers. After eight months of research and development (and her daughter’s seal of approval on her paté), the enterprising mum took the leap.

In August 2017, Grace’s food line, TASTE BY GRACE HOME was born.  She joined ArteFino in Rockwell with her beautifully packaged, all-natural, all-delicious opening spread of seven well-curated artisanal food products sourced from local farms and from her travels abroad. “My exclusive debut collection of three cheese-pairing jams, three hors d’oeuvres and a luxe cookie dough were all conceptualized and inspired by my personal belief that living well should be a harmony of the senses, without sacrificing style, quality and, of course, taste!” she says.

Grace marched into the fair with just her stocks, her household help and her dreams in tow. She had zero advertising prior to the event, not even on her blog! But as soon as the first lid was popped open and the Instagram photos of her followers were posted, buyers started to come in droves. And like anything Grace touches, Taste by Grace Home proved to be irresistible to moms and foodies alike.

Her formula was simple. She elevated existing food items by using only the finest ingredients. Her extremely popular luxe cookie-dough (which can be popped into the open for an instant dessert fix) uses only 70 percent Ecuadorian dark chocolate.

Grace’s patés are just as special. Her Quattro Formaggio Spread with Pink Peppercorns, also a bestseller, uses truffle honey, and got a thumbs up from her biggest critic (and staunchest supporter), aka her seven year-old daughter. “My daughter said, ‘Wow, this is good. It’s a little spicy but it’s also a little sweet. I really like it, Mom!’ And I knew that I’ve hit the perfect recipe,” Grace shares. The Organic Chicken Liver Pâté with Pistachio Praline, on the other hand, uses organic chicken and is more flavorful than bitter; while the Manchego Curado with Almond Olive Tapenade is her elevated take on the queso de bola. Completing the culinary experience are her cheese-pairing jams.

All of her items are packaged in light-colored wooden mini-crates, accented by elegant black ribbons. “They’re so beautiful, we can’t bear to open them,” some moms would tell her. But once they do open their product, the problem is putting the lid back on because they’re just so darn good!

These days, Grace Barbers-Baja still remains a happy wife and a happy mummy. However, she’s also become a real “spoiled mummy,” a foodie, an entrepreneur, and sometimes, a motivational speaker too — and everything else that a woman can be. And from these experiences, she draws sage advice for all the moms and women out there. “If you have it in you, you have it in you. Don’t limit yourself just because you’re a mom. Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams and pursue your passions. If you really want it, work hard for it, and there’s no way for you not to get it.” she says.

Wise words. After all, what better way is there to spoil yourself, than to make your dreams come true?

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