This 25-Year-Old Girl Boss Now Earns Millions from Her Pastry Shop

From starting an online pastry shop to opening a brick-and-mortar store, Nothing But Jill owner Jill Del Rosario shares how she turned PHP 20,000 capital into millions of pesos in sales.

Armed with just PHP 20,000 from her personal savings and a love for baking, Jill Del Rosario opened Nothing But Jill at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. But while a number of online businesses have opted to remain online or even sadly closed shop, Jill’s story has gone a different path.

In fact, in the three years since the pandemic first started, her business only grew and grew until the 25-year-old was able to hire staff and open a brick-and-mortar pastry shop of her own.

And while this kind of story of pursuing a passion may not be anything new for some—given that a whopping 88,000 online businesses registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in that year alone—Jill’s is a story worth telling, as she was able to turn her capital into millions of pesos in sales!

In this exclusive interview with The Business Manual, we learn how this entrepreneur did just that.

A self-taught baker and entrepreneur by nature, Jill del Rosario was able to transform her personal savings into millions of pesos in sales through her passion project: Nothing But Jill.

From Growing Up Around Business to a Love for Baking 

Jill shares that growing up, she has always been surrounded by business-minded people, as both her parents are entrepreneurs. “At an early age, my siblings and I were exposed to the environment of having employees around—[from] accompanying my parents to meetings with suppliers [to] even helping them man our stores at times,” she recalls. “And because of this, when choosing a university, it was very easy for me to go for a business course just because I find it familiar and interesting.”

Despite this, Jill says that starting a business during the pandemic was not really the plan she had in mind. She only actually wanted to go back to her love of baking, which the pandemic gave her ample time to do.

Like many of those who started a food business during the pandemic, Jill didn’t have any professional experience or training in baking. Baking has always just been a favorite hobby of hers and she’d spend weekends baking anything from cookies and cupcakes to whole cakes. “I would make any pastry that my ingredients called out for,” says Jill. “I was always amazed [with] how one could create desserts from scratch.” 

She adds that she saw herself working for a bakery in the future and wanted to learn more about it. Despite dreaming of taking up a culinary course, she never really had the time to actually do it. Instead, she relied on YouTube to help her learn all the necessary techniques. 

Taking Inspiration from Food Overseas

Though starting a business was not initially in her plans, Jill and her brother decided to just go for it one day and start an online business during the pandemic. “Without any expectations, we set up an Instagram account,” she says. 

Next came deciding what to sell in their online shop. According to Jill, she took some inspiration from her family’s travels abroad. “One of the things we look forward to when traveling is scouting for good food. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be on the side of the road, and as long as it tastes good, we’ll keep on coming back,” she says. “That was what we wanted for Nothing But Jill. We want our customers to keep on coming back because the food is genuinely good.” 

Taking inspiration from the food that they had overseas that left a mark on them, Jill did her best to recreate these favorites—eventually creating her own versions of the cheese rolls and guava strudels from the famed Los Angeles bakery known as Porto’s. Nothing But Jill was known for a time for them before Jill introduced what would be another crowd favorite: her cannolis. 

Standing Out From Competition

Given that there were hundreds and even thousands of other online food businesses, standing out became important for Nothing But Jill. And for its 25-year-old owner, what made her business stand out were two things: her products and customer service. 

“Everything we produced was homemade,” Jill points out. “You could say we have our own ‘secret recipe’ and that is what makes us stand out from the rest of the other bakers online.” Aside from cheese rolls, guava strudels, and cannolis, Nothing But Jill has expanded its menu to include cream puffs, cinnamon rolls, and even a banana cream pie. 

As for customer service, she makes sure she gives her customers prompt replies and good promotions. Jill likewise believes in the importance of building good relationships with her customers, especially those who have supported her business since day one. “During the times that it was very difficult for everyone, Nothing But Jill was a happy pill that people wanted to take to brighten up their days—even for just a bit.”

“Not only were we selling baked goods, we also focused on providing our customers an easy and convenient way of having food delivered,” she adds. “When we started the business, customers did not need to book their orders. From the ordering process that involves filling out a form to payment and delivery, we made sure that it was all a smooth process.”

Nothing But Jill’s claim to fame includes a keen understanding of what the market wants—translated into her diverse selection of pastries—and an understanding of how to serve her customers best.

The Challenges of an Online Home Business

However, having a competitive edge and standing out from other businesses is not the only challenge that Jill had to deal with as an owner of an online home business. One of her biggest worries at the start was not being able to meet customers’ demands on time. 

“At first, it was just me and my mom working inside our kitchen. We started baking at home and it would take us the whole day just to serve roughly about 20 boxes,” she recalls. “Eventually we knew we needed any help we could get so we started hiring and expanding our staff to be able to send the pastries earlier and on time.” 

There were also problems when it came to delivery as delivery riders always had some difficulty locating her house. “We live in a gated village,” Jill explains. “0ther than the location problems, our phones also kept on ringing because, for every rider who picks up orders, the guard of our village had to call to confirm.”

These challenges helped Jill and her team to realize that it was time to invest in a commissary. “We were just baking at home with our single-layer home oven,” she says. “I remember constantly waiting for one tray with about six pieces of cheese rolls to bake for 20 minutes before we could bake another batch. It took us forever!”

Opening and Operating a Brick-and-Mortar Store

With her commissary now up and running, Jill decided to take things to the next level by opening a brick-and-mortar store in front of the commissary so that orders can be picked up a lot easier than before. 

“Our customers and riders would have a hard time looking for our pick-up location because there was no signage, no name, nothing,” the 25-year-old girl boss says of the commissary. “Although the majority of our orders are picked up by third-party couriers, we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to pick up in-store, where we have pastries readily available to taste and take home.” 

This proved to be “the biggest challenge we had to adapt to,” according to Jill, especially since they were used to producing pastries that were made-to-order. “I remember having a soft opening without making any announcements online,” she recounts. “We were surprised to have someone come over and do a bulk order. It was challenging but it was definitely fun!”

Despite opening a brick-and-mortar store, Jill decided to keep accepting orders online, which proved to be a tough juggling act. “Apart from having to serve online, walk-in orders were always unexpected and indefinite,” she says. “Especially during the holiday season, people were coming in and ordering in bulk. So it’s basically like serving two stores with only one kitchen operating. We had to hire more people to accommodate the demand.” 

What Running Her Business Has Taught Jill

Now that she has experienced the ups and downs of running both an online store and a physical location, Jill has picked up a lot of lessons that she applies to how she runs her business. When it comes to running an online business, she learned that it involves a lot of visuals, such as graphics and videos, and promotions. 

“We take pride in the way we market our products online. We make sure there is always something happening and that our community is always growing,” says Jill. “It wasn’t usual to see a bakeshop have promotions and sales but our customers loved it! They always looked forward to our monthly promotions and would follow up with us if we haven’t posted anything yet for the month!” 

When it comes to what she learned from a brick-and-mortar store, she learned about the importance of food presentation. “Not just with the products but with how the store is presented, how the food is served, how our staff greets the customers,” she points out. 

“When designing our mini pop-up, we really wanted it to look on-brand,” Jill adds. “We wanted people to want to take photos as they enjoy our food—hence the all-pink aesthetic which our customers love!”

Lessons From Jill

Given the lessons she has learned, Jill also has some lessons that she wants to share with aspiring young entrepreneurs—especially those who want to start a food business like she did. “One of the advantages of starting a business at a young age is that you get to mature early,” she reflects. “Having a business is not easy. At first, I was not knowledgeable about what I needed to have and do to operate a business.” 

For aspiring young entrepreneurs who find themselves hesitating because of their lack of knowledge, Jill’s advice is to just go for it. “If you want to try something out, if you’re scared to start, if you’re overwhelmed to begin, just go for it because really, you will never really know if you do not try,” she says.

“I was definitely scared to start all of this. I was worried—would people buy from me? Would I be able to serve [the] orders that I have? Should I invest in boxes? Should I invest in a new store? I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who pushed me to just go for it.” 

And to end, Jill credits her parents for supporting her every step of the way—guiding and educating her about how businesses work. “I owe everything that I know to my parents,” she explains. “Nothing But Jill wouldn’t have been this successful if it wasn’t for them.

Nothing But Jill would not have been where it is today without the support and learnings from her mother—a fellow entrepreneur— and family, a capable team, and of course, her loyal customers who have been with her since day one.

What’s Next for Nothing But Jill?

With a lot of support and hard work, Nothing But Jill has grown from an online home business into a commissary and brick-and-mortar store that earns more than a million monthly. In fact, their Esteban Abada location in Quezon City is now even home to a small dine-in area—which is a result of her customers’ requests. 

Still, this is not where Jill and Nothing But Jill’s story ends. She looks forward to adding another chapter to it in the form of a second location. “We’re still looking for the perfect place for us so we’re looking forward to it,” she shares. 

As for where the second location may be, Jill says she’s hoping it can be somewhere in the south. Again, it’s “as per a lot of customers’ requests,” she says.