Darly was selling chocolates since elementary to support her expenses in school. They used to buy homemade chocolate lollipops from a friend but as time went by, her mother learned the delectable craft and so they made higher profits.
“Kinakalabit ako ng mga kaklase ko nung elementary habang nagkaklase, ‘pabili ng chocolates.’ Sasabihin ko naman, ‘oo mamaya na, magagalit si teacher,” she shares.
In college, her uncle abroad agreedto support her tuition and daily allowance of 100 pesos. But half of her allowance is already allotted forher commute from Malabon to Sta. Mesa, the other half is barely enough to buy her snacks. How did she get by on whole day classes and class projects? Chocolates, of course!
Darly sold chocolates as if her life literally depended on it. Never did she know that her persistence will soon bear fruits and her chocolates will soon give birth to something big.
Dave was also battling a fight when he was younger. But not the kind of a fight that required him to sell or work hard. His fight was within. He was crossdressing and was surrounded by people who did the same. Some people say it suit him and so he remained as that person for a time.
“Dumating yung time na naitanong ko sa sarili ko, ‘ano yung gusto mong mangyari?’ Dave recalled.
He felt he wanted to have a family of his own and so he chose to make things right. But he didn’t know how, not until Darly came along.
Changing and Waiting
Dave and Darly met in their church’s youth organization in 2004. It was when Darly was selling chocolates and Dave was still wearing tank tops. The two became friends though unknowing of what was happening in each other’s hearts – Dave wanting to make things right and straight and Darly longing to meet the right person to love.
“Dumaan yung ilang months, nagbalik sya at [nagbago ng pananamit]. Tinanong ko sya kung bakit. Sinabi lang nya na may nagugustuhan daw kasi sya. ‘Sino?’ tanong ko, ayaw naman nyang sabihin,” Darly recalled.
Darly learned from their friends that she was the person that Dave was growing to like. She did not get mad or made fun of him, but she confronted him with the heartbreaking truth – she was liking someone else.
Heartbroken, Dave focused on the change he was doing for himself. Though he never insisted himself to Darly, Dave remained devoted to their friendship. He was always there whenever Darly needed help. He was still hoping that someday, she would like him.
After four years, Darly broke up with his boyfriend. While everyone thought that this is their time to be together, Darly chose to remain single for a year, then for another year again. All these years, Dave was pursuing and persisting.
“Nung malapit na yung birthday nya, naisip ko na sagutin na sya at isurprise sya. Nagpa-frame ako ng mga pictures namin, bumili ako ng 21 pieces na brownies na may kandila at kinausap ko yung mga kasama namin sa youth na samahan ako isurprise sya,” Darly shares.
Every one of their friends took turns in greeting Dave while holding the brownies with candles on it. When it was Darly’s turn, she began with ‘ito yung araw na sasagutin ko na yung matagal mong tanong sa akin, kung kalian magiging tayo…’
Dave started shedding tears. He said that it was the same day that he decided to let go of pursuing her.
“Sabi ko, ititigil ko na yung panliligaw. Tama na, wala ng pag-asa. Okay na yung six years na naibigay ko sa kanya,” Dave said.
Turned out Darly’s ‘yes’ just came on the right time, actually, on the right day.
Success Takes Time
Darly’s persistence in selling chocolates and Dave’s persistence in pursuing her were the pillars of their strength in going after their dreams.
In 2012, Dave and Darly joined a program of a prominent business school in Manila where the students will innovate their products from branding to packaging and will sell them to earn profit. The program lend them 10,000 pesos to create chocolates while the students birthed their business name: Chocolate Spot: Your destination for Delectable Delights.
The first cycle of selling in school turned out a success. Their 10,000 earned 18,000 pesos. In the second cycle of selling the products in a mall, they have decided to spend them all on more products instead of keeping the 8,000 profit.
However, the students who were assigned to their business became lax in selling in the mall. Thus, their first business heartbreak.
“After nuon, may nag-offer sa’min, yung ninang ko na gumawa ng cupcakes para sa birthday ng anak nya. Ang sabi nya, gumawa ka ng cupcakes at kahit ano ang lasa, okay lang,” Dave shared.
They bought a small oven and searched recipes over the Internet. This is where their cupcake business began.
“Pinasok namin ang online [business], ang benta namin ay 25 pesos per piece kasama ang packaging. Saka namin sinubukan ang cake,” Dave said. “Pero bago namin ipinasok online [ang cake], ilang trial muna bago ma-perfect yung lasa. Sa unang trials, matigas, sunog, bagsak yung gitna. Nagpalit kami ng ingredients para malaman alin ang mas masarap. After six months, masarap na at pwede nang ilaban sa iba.”
Their online business flourished, gaining customers as far as Cavite, Las Piňas and Alabang. Dave and Darly’s relationship was also getting stronger. In fact, their customers would tease them that the reason why their cakes were sweet was because they are sweet.
Bolder Dreams, Braver Steps
In 2015, the two decided to level up their dreams by having their own shop even though they have no idea how and where to start. They just thought that shops that personalize cakes are rare, almost none. One day, Dave happened to pass by a commercial site being constructed in their area.
“Wala pa kami nuong pera, pero kinausap na namin yung may-ari. Kaso may kukuha na raw,” Dave recalled.
Since Dave has learned to be persistent in the most unforgettable way, he kept on coming back to the site. He insisted that the owner lease the property to him. The owner, wanting to keep his word to the first person who expressed interest on the site, politely turned him down.
But Dave just won’t give up. The site was still being constructed but he already has a vision on how their shop will look like. On his third visit, he took photos of the site. On his fourth visit, the owner agreed to lease the site to him since the other person will no longer take it.
“Nagpadala ang ate ko ng 25,000 pesos para sa shop. Kaso may in-attend-an kaming free baking seminar na nag-offer ng mixer sa halagang 16,000 pesos, ang regular price nuon ay 25,000,” Darly shared. “Kapag nagbe-bake, ang sarap makabili ng equipment, parang achievement. Saka hirap na rin kasi si Dave mag-mix.”
And so they spent the money for the lease to acquire the mighty kitchen aid mixer. Now, having enough money to pay the lease has become a predicament. As if Darly’s sister heard their prayer, she went back to the Philippines for a short vacation. This is when Darly thought of asking her sister to apply for an OFW loan.
In December 2015, Dave and Darly were able to open their pastry shop. At the end of the year, they earned around 10,000 pesos. It delighted them. It is going to work, they thought to themselves.
However, the shop barely made sales in January, February, March of 2016. “Umiiyak na kami, wala ng pambayad sa upa, sa kuryente, sahod ko wala na, tao ko inalisan ako kasi walang pasahod,” Dave said as he was recalling the pain. “[Sabi ko] sige, isarado na natin kaysa mag-suffer nang matagal, mas mahihirapan tayo.”
The next day, the two realized they still have positive veins left in their bodies. They decided to continue the fight. They continued selling online and improving their products.
Another three months have passed and they saw flocks of customers coming in. “Duon na kami nakahinga nang husto kasi lumalakas na kami. Every day may nag-papagawa na,” Dave shared.
Angels in Disguises
Dave and Darly realized that their journey together as couple and as business owners has been blessed with angles in disguises. From Dave’s ninang who encouraged him to make cupcakes, to Darly’s sister who lend them cash to be able to start. There was even a friend whom they almost treat as mother who lend them her credit card so they can buy a bigger oven.
As their shop, Vien’s Sweets started growing clients, these angels in disguises never stopped coming in.
“Minsan may mag-asawang tumingin pero hindi pumasok, tiningnan itong tarpaulin ko pero hindi masyadong makikita kung ano yung inooffer ko. Pumunta sa kabila, kumain, at pagkakain dun sa kabila, parang na-curious yung babae na ano ba meron ditto. Pumasok yung babae, hinawakan nya yung chiller, sabi nya ‘bakit hindi malamig? Saka nilalanggam.’ Sabi ko sorry po, sira po iyan e. Hanggang sa nakipagkwentuhan sya at pagkatapos ay sinabi nya, ‘sige offeran ko kayo ng chiller, coffee maker,” Dave narrated.
After the conversation, Dave said that the couple sent them the equipment right away and told them they can pay in a manner that’s convenient for them.
“Naiyak kami kasi kailangan na kailangan na talaga ang mga iyon. Ayoko rin na umabot yung show ng isang taon na walang naging improvement,” Dave said.
Three days after that, another angel came in their shop, stayed for some chat and ended up financing a baking seminar and training for them that cost around 9,000 pesos!
Truly, the universe conspires to all of our dreams and desires.
Lessons and Way Forward
Asked on the greatest lessons they learned along their journey, Dave said that it’s not being afraid to fail. “Kung gusto mo na may marating, hindi ka dapat takot bumagsak. Kung hindi namin sinubukan ito, hindi namin malalaman kung babagsak o magtatagumpay kami,” he shared.
Now that their shop is sitting beautifully in Malabon City with cake orders left and right and customers coming in daily, Dave and Darly said that this is not the end of their dreams yet.
“After five years, magiging restaurant na kami ala Starbucks,” Dave proclaimed.
As they hold on to their fulfilled dreams, the couple said that they will never stop serving in their church where they first met, where their story, as if baked by the Lord in heaven, has begun.
P. S. For inquiries, you guys can reach Vien’s Sweets through their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/vienscakes/
I adore their cakes! You must try their carrot cake! Soo good! 😉