Entrepreneur Sisters Strike Online Selling Gold with Their Mom’s Turon Recipe
With a humble product and PHP 5,000 in capital, Nalene and Sam Sevilla launched Turon and Things and found a winning recipe for thousands of followers and customers.
There are many great Filipino snacks, among which is “turon,” deep-fried Saba bananas wrapped in spring roll wrappers and coated with brown sugar. The appeal of this Filipino snack attracted two siblings, Nalene and Sam Sevilla, to elevate the street food and create a successful business that places the humble dessert front and center.
How did Nalene and Sam strike gold with this common dessert staple? In this article, The Business Manual shares some insights about how the sisters took inspiration from their mother’s much-loved turon recipe. By doing so, they launched Turon and Things and earned thousands of followers, including famous celebrities, as well as a host of loyal customers.
Coming Up with the Business Idea
Sam and Nalene started their entrepreneurial journey during the pandemic. At that time, Sam had a full-time job in the health industry while Nalene was still an undergrad. In the family, it was only their mother who had a food industry background as she ran a small catering business. But like many other businesses during the pandemic, the catering service was adversely affected by safety protocols and lockdown.
In the early months of the lockdown, the two sisters noticed that there were many Instagram businesses popping up on their news feeds, especially for ube cheese pandesal and sushi bakes.
“That was when we had the idea of trying to open up an Instagram account. We thought of which viand from our mom’s menu we could sell. And eventually, we decided on the crowd favorite and our favorite, the mini turon. We opened our Instagram account back in June 2020. A few hours after posting the logo, some friends were messaging us to order already! Orders kept coming in from mutual friends, family, and then eventually people we do not know. Word came around and now Turon and Things is still operating three years later,” the sisters shared.
Without a background in business, everything became a challenge for the sisters–from inventory to ordering and delivery. “But it was a good thing I had an idea of how to streamline process flows because of my line of work,” Sam said. “We had to act quickly since the orders kept coming in. The urgency to adapt and excel became the team’s driving force behind every hurdle.”
Among all the famous Filipino snacks, one may wonder why the siblings chose turon. According to the sisters, “During our college days, we enjoyed the usual afternoon turon snack. I think most Pinoys can relate to these nostalgic times. Everyone has their food story albeit their childhood or student days. Partly that is what we want our consumers to remember when they try our turon. In a world where turon is often associated with SM malls or street vendors, we dared to reimagine this beloved Pinoy classic.”
“No longer confined to oversized servings, Turon and Things’ mini turons take a bite-sized approach. Our creation means sharing and revisiting those simple joyful memories. Our inspiration came from the heart of Pinoy culture, where family and hospitality play important roles,” they added.
Aside from their mini turons, the owners also came up with the Turon Cake which is meant for sharing and celebration. It channels the Pinoy culture of familial warmth and togetherness.
Growing the Business
As a home-based family business, the sisters are in charge of every aspect of the business. For one, “Ensuring the quality of each turon was also non-negotiable. Each turon had to meet a standard that was not just maintained but elevated. We worked on every customer feedback and tried to revise and improve our process. But that didn’t stop there, creativity became our secret ingredient.”
“My sister, Nalene, would curate social media posts as well as [latch] onto trends. We strive to be unique and distinctive by coming with new viands every year,” Sam added.
True enough, social media proved to be a helpful tool that drove their business to succeed as they saw an opportunity to utilize this tool during the pandemic. With it, they were able to make it possible for people to taste the food from their kitchen which, previously, were only pictures on social media pages.
“And of course, we want to stay truthful and authentic with our food while doing so. Sharing raw testimonies of our delighted customers and also sharing our new and upcoming flavors has been our main content. Our business doesn’t just use social media, it revolves around it. It’s the core of our operations. The virtual platform helped us reach our target customers without having to have a rented space outside.”
Sam SevillaCo-founder, Turon and Things
Now with more than 8,000 followers on their Instagram page alone, Sam added, “We also take pride in sharing some well-known public figures who loved our food like Sarah Labhati, Dra. Vicky Belo, Dr. Hayden Kho, Ruffa Guiterrez, Vilma Santos Recto, Ian Veneracion, Nicole Andersson, Janeena Chan to name a few. They were able to help boost our sales and helped spread the word around our turon!”
“Our business has grown from sharing snacks in parties to having celebrities order our products. We feel very blessed and are grateful to how far our business has come.”
Wrapping Up What They Learned
Asked about the best lessons they learned from starting an online business, Sam answered:
- “Listening to your customer’s feedback is very important. You should know your target audience and their preference. We carefully tried to improve based on every little comment about our turon. We had to make a lot of revisions in our process like making sure the turon is not too hot after being dispatched so that the caramelized sugar won’t stick together so much.”
- “Catering to our customers has been one of our priorities. Each and every feedback is well accounted for and always a part of our end-of-the-day huddles.”
- “A strong online presence is also crucial in our business. Conducting customer surveys helped us build a user friendly system for our target customers and help keep them ordering from us. Also replying as timely as we can.”
- “Above everything, quality of our turon is paramount. Ensuring consistency in every food we send is vital for customer satisfaction. We strive to keep all that craving at bay.”
To that, Sam says that there’s a lot more to come for Turon and Things as they plan to release more flavors as well as new ways to present their products.
“Still a working progress as of now. We are currently testing out new recipes also for our premium turon line. Coming soon!” she teased.
For inquiries, Turon and things can be reached via Facebook (Turon & Things), Instagram (@turonandthings), and email ([email protected]).