Inspiring and Informing Filipino Mommies whoever they are, whatever they do, and wherever they may be.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Mommy Russell Tobias Fonte on Managing Growing Kids and Starting Businesses

May 03, 2018
Being a mom means being the managing director of the home. Our featured Inspiring Mommy today is even more than that, she's also the managing director of growing brands in South Luzon.

Mommy's Tambayan is amazed at how this mommy is able to manage her home and their businesses. Let's find out how she does it!

Hi Mommy Russell, could you please tell us about your kids?

I have 2 beautiful kids, Aica my eldest who is 5 and Phugz, who is 2, and another blessing coming out very soon 😁 Both are very sweet and loving kids.

Mommy Russell with her firstborn, Aica

Wow! A third one to add to the bunch! Tell us about your pregnancy. 

Yes, poppin' out in June. Conceived in Guangzhou during our business trip last September 2017, wala kasing stress that time. Haha! My first trimester was not easy as usual but as I moved on to the second trimester, I can travel almost everyday because we just opened our new branches in Las Piñas.

Mommy Russell with her second child, Phugz, and their third baby on the way.

How is it different for each of your children?

During my first pregnancy in 2012, I was an OFW then in Singapore. I was also a Restaurant Manager that time so I have to work even until I was 8 months pregnant. I can still remember what a customer said to me while I was inside the kitchen assembling food for them with a big tummy,
“What is she doing there?” Hahaha! My second child came when we decided to go home to the Philippines and decided to do business last 2016. I started with online selling of Egg Surprise that time and it was a hit! That was our start up, we do buy and sell, and we have several kiosks in the local malls here in Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan, Laguna. As I recall, me and my husband were in Divisoria almost every week even though my tummy is already big to buy goods as we personally select the items to sell aside from the Egg Surprise from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Wow! And how do you take care of your kids now that you are pregnant and also a mother of well-known businesses in Laguna?

I must admit that it is not easy to manage a business and be a mom at the same time. I have trusted people who helps me take care of them everyday whenever we are out for work. Aica is in senior kinder, and we make it a point that we are always present in all of her school activities. During examinations, I personally attend to her during reviews.

Galing! You must be an amazing mom to raise such kids. How do you make sure you give enough quality time for them given that you are the managing director of the Aica and Phugz brands?

We have family time every weekend to ensure that we are giving them enough time and attention despite our busy schedule. There are times also that we just stay home and play with them, watch movies or accompany them outside for a walk. That’s another advantage when you have your own business, you can manage your own time and adjust to your needs.

Mommy Russell and family on one of their weekend getaways.
You are more than just a super woman! Super successful pa ang businesses mo. Can you please share to our readers how you started with these brands? From our research, we learned that it started with a shop. How did the brand grow?

Mommy Russell with their Phugz Inasal family.
As mentioned earlier,  it was late 2015 when we decided to stay in the Philippines for good. During that time, usong uso sa kids yung Egg Surprise, even my daughter Aica is a big fan of it. It was not locally available that time here in the Philippines so I tried to post it online and to my surprise the demand was very high. It was when we started Aica’s Shop named after our daughter, with only Egg Surprise as our main product. We earned our first million in just 6 months! It was a very big blessing to us that we had the right product at the right time. After that, we decided to put up a physical store Aicashop in the local Malls here in Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan. Then, in late 2016, my husband conceptualized our own restaurant “Phugz Chicken Inasal and Bulalo Espesyal” named after our second child. I never thought that I will be managing my own restaurant, as having a restaurant is really hard work. There are many aspects that you need to manage such as product quality, manpower, expenses and of course profitability. It was a struggle at first as we have to find the right product, people, supplier and make a system for the restaurant. Thank God, we are now on our second year of operation. We always keep our kids in mind whenever we put up a new business, we observe that nowadays kids tend to stay at home and play with gadgets. They seldom get physical activities as it is very hot outside and sometimes it is not safe as well. We want a place where kids can enjoy with a very safe and conducive environment for learning as well. When Phugz brand reached its 3rd month and was already stable, we put up another business, an indoor playground named Aicaland. It was a learning playground as well as we have role playing and mind games stations. Currently, the Phugz brand have 3 branches which are in Pagsanjan, and Siniloan Laguna and Las Piñas, while we have 4 Aicaland indoor playgrounds which are in Pagsanjan, Laguna, Imus, Cavite, Metro East and Las Piñas.

Do you ever struggle with balancing your time with the business and your family?

There are times when we are out as early as 5am and get back home very late especially during the opening days of the new businesses. We have to take care of everything to ensure the smooth operation of the business. Every single detail matters to us as this will contribute to the overall success. We always take time to talk and explain to our daughter why we have to work hard and gladly, she understands. But after few months when a business becomes more stable, we spend more time with the kids to make up for the time that we were really busy. Time management is really essential as I also need to attend personally to the school matters of my daughter.

What would you advise aspiring moms who still want to pursue and manage their own business?

It is important to start. Be it online or a physical store, what is important is to start it. By doing this, you will have a feel on how to run your own business, on how hard or easy it is to earn your own money. Along the way, you will encounter failures and successes but you will gain new learnings that will help you improve and expand your business. If you fail, try again. If you succeed, keep the learnings and inspire others too.

Thanks for your encouraging advise, Mommy Russell. What do you think made your businesses and family succeed?

I am blessed with a supportive and encouraging husband. When we got married, I started to be the better version of me. He always pushes me to be the best that I can be, he trusts me more than anyone else. In managing all our business it is not only me, we are a TEAM. Two minds, two bodies but only one goal to success. Our family and our kids’ future is our top priority and inspiration, and it fuels us everyday to keep going and reach for our dreams.

Mommy Russell credits her success to God and to her loving husband Paul
Lastly, how do you take care of yourself while balancing your role as a mommy and an entrepreneur? May favorite ka bang lugar na gusto tinatambayan? How do you take care of yourself?

I love to hangout with my husband. Wherever he brings me is a resting place for me, hahaha! We love to watch movies together - that’s our quick escape from stress everytime. When I was not yet pregnant, we used to go to the gym together. After giving birth, we are planning to have balik alindog program as well. Hehehe!

Thank you Mommy Russel! We are definitely sure that mommies who will read your story will be inspired to pursue their passion may it be in business or in any other field. Truly, being a mommy isn’t a reason not pursue what you want, but being a mom is even an inspiration to follow your passion. More blessings to you Mommy Russell and family, and God bless and a safe and easy delivery this June!

Mommy Russell Tobias-Fonte is the managing director of the Aicaland and Phugz brands in South Luzon. Together with her husband Paul, who co-founded and created the two growing companies, their advocacy is to bring families together and provide a wholesome and educational environment for children.

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