Kakanin (sticky rice cake) is a popular staple in Filipino food culture. Town festivities, get-togethers, or even simple afternoon meriendas become even more special with a round winnowing basket of these flavorful, glutinous rice cakes sitting on the table. It’s believed that sticky rice cakes symbolize a long-lasting family bond, a hallmark of our culture that Filipinos highly regard.
For entrepreneur Cathy Gavino, sticky rice cakes are more than just hearty Filipino snacks. After leaving her corporate job in 1996, she transitioned into a career that’s closer to her heart: selling her own sticky rice cakes. Growing up, she witnessed how her family worked hard to support their everyday finances by making delicious kakanin. Cathy knew the trail ahead wasn’t a plain sailing one, but she’s prepared to conquer the steep hills and valleys to succeed.
“I discussed this with my mom and she helped me by supplying me with her products. We opened our first kiosk and named it Bea’s Special Bibingka in RFC Molino Mall and sold kakanin made by my mother. For us to earn a bit more, we also looked for other stores that sold kakanin and eventually supplied them. Then came a time when my mother couldn’t handle all my orders, so I decided to make my own shop in 2008,” she recalls of their humble beginnings at Bea’s Home of Quality Kakanin.
Perhaps, Cathy developed her strong-willed nature due to her fascination with business at an early age. She recalls selling thirst quenchers such as Maíz Con Hielo and sweet treats like cookies at school, which is an experience that molded her to become a strong and resourceful entrepreneur.
Today, the countless hours spent in the kitchen through the years to perfect her rice cake recipes have come to fruition. Loyal customers constantly pour in, and Cathy now has her commissary where she and her team make boxes upon boxes of different rice cakes.
Having been featured in lifestyle television shows on Net25, ABS-CBN, and GMA, Cathy always emphasizes one thing whenever she is asked about her secret to success—dedication. Sticking to what you love is everything, and it is something that she hopes new entrepreneurs will learn by heart. “Avoid fads. You should follow your passion. Don’t make too many investments without studying it because you might be biting off more than you can chew,” she tells us.
As a mother and full-time entrepreneur, Cathy is grateful for every opportunity that helped propel her to where she is right now. She also learned that success is more than just profiting from your chosen career path. “[Success in business is] earning from your desired business and, at the same time, being an inspiration to others; sharing knowledge to people who also want to follow your footsteps. It’s also fulfilling that you’re able to provide employment,” Cathy adds.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced numerous businesses to close their doors, and while her shop continues to brave through the new normal, it takes more than just one person to keep everything on the right track. Team effort plays a huge part, too, and Cathy treasures her team like they’re part of the family. “One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned [as a business owner] is that, even though you can do it alone, don’t. It would be best if you had people you can trust. Develop relationships with people who will help you reach your goal and take them with you. Be patient, love your business, and learn to manage your finances.”
Cathy Gavino is on Lemi at @punkybrewster