As the global pandemic unfolded in 2020 and schools globally transitioned to e-learning systems, Jolly Rose Morales knew she would have to leave work to support the learning of her son. Fueled with a desire to continue her professional journey in the personal care industry, Jolly bravely decided to start a new business during a global pandemic.
Jolly is the co-founder of Native Biologique, a personal care brand based in the Philippines. With ten years in the personal care industry, Jolly uses her STEM background in Chemical Engineering to build the business alongside her co-founders with the goal “to provide safe and effective personal care products.”
We asked Jolly to tell us more about her background, her business and her personal journey as a female STEM entrepreneur.
What inspired you to start your business? How is it going?
Native Biologique is a product of my passion, developed through the years working in the cosmetic ingredients industry in the Philippines. Since the beginning of the pandemic and the news of introducing a new system of e-learning for kids, I already knew that I would have to give up my current job because things would be very challenging to my 12- year old boy with autism.
As I am completing my Post-Graduation Diploma in Cosmetics Brand Management at the Institute of Personal Care Science Australia, I told myself that I have to make a bold decision to bring my project to reality. I still want to continue to work in the personal care industry, even at home.
Establishing a business during the pandemic is scary as there are so many uncertainties. With the support of my colleagues in the industry, I was able to find the right partners to help me in manufacturing, packaging, etc. There were some delays on shipment of our packaging but we were able to still launch our first product in December 2020.
“Being an entrepreneur entails a lot of hard work. Being a mompreneur is tiring. And being a mompreneur with a child with special needs is very challenging.”
Kids with special needs cannot easily adapt to a new setup so they need a lot of guidance from the teachers and their parents. So while my son was having an online class in the morning, I would sit beside him doing my paper work, coordinating with different suppliers and planning for the new business. And after his class, we would coordinate with his teacher on how to properly manage him so he would participate more in class and follow the instructions. When I was done attending to the school requirements of my son, I would pick up some materials or meet the suppliers for the business.
Without the passion and dedication, I would have easily given up my dream. It also helped that I have a big support group motivating me to continue and to bring a great new brand in our local market. I have zero experience in the retail markets. All the hard work that I put into this new venture was met with gratitude when new dermatologists, retail and online partners started carrying our product. And just recently, we started receiving orders from Filipinos abroad. There is still a long way to go for Native Biologique and a lot of things to improve but I am so inspired to learn more and work harder to make this a trusted brand in skin care.
Tell us about your typical day.
I usually wake up early to check on our inquiries and check the new orders and deliveries. My son’s e-learning starts at 7am but they are on school break now. I cook breakfast for the family. After having our breakfast, I would start working. Right now, I am busy developing some new products and doing a lot of research and coordination with different suppliers. I conduct business meetings in the afternoon. Due to the surge of new cases here in the Philippines, activities outside have been limited.
I love reading, so my night time is usually for research. I also have grown my connections to more people in the personal care industry from different countries so from time to time, I would communicate with them.
What is most challenging about being a STEM woman in business?
It is challenging to be a STEM woman in business because there are a lot more responsibilities on our shoulder. You have to balance family duties and work. Otherwise, you will easily experience burn out.
The Filipinos are widely known to be obsessed with whitening products. There are a lot of brands offering different types of whitening products. Being a small/start-up brand who wishes to promote a healthier way to brighten the skin, things are not always easy, because our product innovation may not be easily accepted.
Most Filipinos love whitening products but not sunscreens. There is a need for more consumer education so we are trying to grow our derma channels so that we can help educate consumers on the proper way to care of the skin. We are now reaching out to more experienced people who can help us solidify our brand and our goal of promoting better skin health for everyone.
What is most rewarding about being a STEM woman in business?
Since it is personal care, I think being a STEM woman is an advantage as your products and your business is mostly targeting women. You can relate to them and they can relate to you.
The most rewarding part is knowing that your innovation was able to help people in bringing back their confidence. Hyperpigmentation is a growing problem and this can affect anyone’s quality of life. It is our goal to provide safe and effective personal care products.
“Having Native Biologique also led me to know and meet some great people who inspire me to have a bigger purpose in life.”
Is there a lot of support for STEM woman in business in your country? Why do you think this is?
With the pandemic, more Filippinos are starting to support more local skin care brands. When you support a local brand, you also help create more jobs for your countrymen. There is also a growing community for women-led businesses. Just recently, we joined an event sponsored by one of our largest conglomerates and the United Nations Women to support local businesses established by women entrepreneurs
Is there anything that can improve this further?
STEM is something that needs to be promoted and strenghtened in our country. But I have seen some organizations who are pursuing this advocacy to help other women. And I want to be part of it as well.
Do you have any advice for other STEM woman wanting to start their own business?
My advice is to find your passion and your purpose. Being a STEM woman, we can offer a lot of great things that can help improve our society, our people, our environment, etc. We should not be afraid and easily give up. When there is a great opportunity, say yes to it. You will be able to attract like-minded people in your journey.
“Start small, dream big, be flexible and choose the right partners.”