Bianca Sanchez on How to Grow Your Online Business With Just PHP 3,000

From not having any experience in making polymer clay accessories to receiving bulk orders from abroad, Bianca Sanchez shares how she started her online business with just PHP 3,000.

The e-commerce industry is a lucrative one and has boomed even more since the pandemic! In fact, e-commerce market sales in the Philippines reached $17 billion (around PHP 911.98 billion) in 2021 alone. This comes as no surprise, especially since platforms like Lazada, Shopee, and Zalora have become popular.

What’s more, online businesses found on social media apps like Facebook, and Instagram, and even messaging apps like Viber picking up traction, too!

Bringing all that together, the number of online businesses grew to a staggering 93,318 in January 2021, given that there used to be only 1,700 of them back in March 2020. This just goes to show that the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders opened up opportunities for people to explore different passions and open online businesses from their personal hobbies—passion projects, so to speak. 

Such is the case when Bianca Sanchez started her Sequined Soul PH during the height of the pandemic. An online business that features handcrafted accessories made using polymer clay, it has since then amassed a loyal following. But would you believe that she actually wasn’t experienced with her chosen medium at first and that she started out with just PHP 3,000 capital?

Despite this, she has made numerous beautiful, artistic accessories since starting from scratch. This is her story. 

Bianca Sanchez Business
A Little Goes a Long Way—With just PHP 3,000 in capital, Bianca Sanhez was able to start Sequined Soul, an online business that’s founded on her love for all things handmade.

It All Started With the Pandemic

Just like many online business owners, Bianca’s journey as an entrepreneur started because she had a whole lot of free time and uncertainty—no thanks to the pandemic. Needing a creative outlet and wanting to start a new hobby, she then thought of starting a business on her own. “I thought that having a passion project would hit two birds with one stone,” Bianca explains. 

When asked what pushed or inspired her to start Sequined Soul PH, she says, “I was interested in anything handmade—having been fond of crafting, journaling, painting, and all that.”

From there, she found out about polymer clay earrings. These have become a trend during the pandemic and it ended up being the product that Bianca wanted to focus on. But there was a problem. She wasn’t experienced in making them herself.

So she did what she had to do and put in the work.

As someone who has always had a passion for expressing herself through her art, the 27-year-old acknowledges that “though passion is a big player in business success, it doesn’t always get you far—perseverance and discipline [are] also key.” 

Research, Work, Discipline

Her journey in running Sequined Soul PH—which she started with only PHP 3,000 in funds from her personal savings—taught her that there are three things that having a business requires: research, work, and discipline. 

“Research because learning best practices and the latest trends are necessary for making your business thrive,” Bianca says. In fact, she’s surrounded herself with makers or business owners in the same industry—from whom she learned things like insights on the medium, how to handle logistics, and more. 

After research comes work and Bianca swears that hard work really does pay off, based on her experience. Thing is, getting the actual work done is sometimes easier said than done though, since she has a full-time job and, at one point, even switched companies.

While juggling all these hasn’t been easy, she says that she manages because she work hard and stays disciplined, too—since for her, these two should go hand-in-hand. “The business venture I got into is handmade accessories and to make my business work, I think self-discipline is a huge factor in making it run smoothly,” Bianca shares.

“Discipline also helps us stay focused on reaching and achieving our goals,” the entrepreneur adds.

Her Creative Process

As she strives to learn, improve, and grow as an entrepreneur, Bianca hasn’t forgotten to nurture her artistic side as well. And while she admits that she does not have a creative process that she sticks to— given that it varies—she actually thinks that it works because it showcases her creativity. 

Bianca’s inspiration comes from floral and other nature-inspired elements. Moreover, she looks for inspiration from different sources, such as Pinterest and even the pandemic itself! “The pandemic definitely shaped how I ran my business and [it] gave me opportunities to create, market, sell, and make good use of the extra time I had at home,” she says.

“I also try to incorporate positive quotes [in my pieces], because I want to uplift others at the same time,” she adds.

Understanding the business side of art and how it must also cater to her audience, Bianca makes sure she creates new designs as often as she can, and she even takes the time to do some market research, so that she understands the current market. In fact, she also makes it a point to research designs and color palettes that are trending. 

“After getting inspiration I either draft on paper the design/s or start using the medium right away,” Bianca explains. “The first step to creating the actual pair (or accessory using polymer clay) is to condition the clay, then I usually mix colors to get the color that I like.”

Bianca admits that she used to make earrings by hand at first—rolling each and every piece by hand. It was only when she had enough funds that she bought herself a pasta maker to help make things easier. “I thought it was heaven-sent! Investing in materials to help speed up the process, I think, is a good thing to take note of,” she enthuses.

Once she has finalized the design, Bianca goes on to make the actual earrings, which takes the longest to do. However, she has different tools that help her out, including clay cutters, dotting tools, and the ever-so-dandy X-Acto knife.

Bianca Sanchez Business
Then and Now—Bianca’s inexperience with polymer clay have led to a few mistakes. But through trial and error, coupled with hard work and tons of patience, she perfected the craft, with handcrafted pieces like this to show for.

Polymer Earrings—No Walk in a Park

Because her products are handmade, no two pairs are exactly alike. They are made-to-order and produced in small batches—which, for her, make them even more special.

Getting her earrings to the quality she’s satisfied with, though, can be quite a challenge. “There were a number of challenges—from pieces being overbaked to having uneven surfaces in the wrong places and earring posts detaching even,” Bianca shares. “In the end, you really have to do research, and do trial and error for you to overcome those challenges.”

All these can be overwhelming, which is why time management has been key for her. “Time management is also critical to business success,” Bianca points out. “I try to minimize distractions as much as I can, and I try to find ways to speed up the process of finalizing orders for my clients.”

Meanwhile, being an artist meant she’s not exempt from burning out, sharing that she once took many orders at a time, which only led her to be burned out and stressed.

But now, she has learned from that. “Try to strategize so that orders won’t take ‘all’ of your time, and if the orders are too much, you can confirm with the client and tell them it may take longer to make. Or you can always say no,” Bianca advises. “Take breaks, and more importantly, know your limit.”

Taking Sequined Soul PH to Global Heights

Her work ethic and creative process seem to be a match made in artistic heaven and it has paid off for her, as Sequined Soul PH has already gone global since its launch. “I was able to receive a few international orders and I’m grateful [that] it was able to get that far,” Bianca says excitedly. She considers these international orders as her big break, as “it gained a lot of positive feedback.” 

“Some of them have also ordered more than once,” she adds. 

Reaching that milestone, however, took some work, since she initially did not even share her online business with her social network. Bianca eventually decided to and discovered along the way that “family and friends can be really supportive of your journey.” 

“After I shared my Instagram handle to my personal social media accounts, I received orders from several personal connections,” she says. “Some also promoted my shop [in] their accounts!”

Growing and Sustaining an Online Business

Bianca has gone a really long way since she first started Sequined Soul PH, despite the pandemic raging on. “When I started, I wasn’t really experienced with the medium [polymer clay], so it was also a journey for me on its own,” she explains. “I think I made a good amount of progress in honing the craft—looking back at earrings I made when I first started compared to where I am now with my designs.” 

While the journey can vary from person-to-person, Bianca points out that entrepreneurs can always start small. “I started really small and improved along the way. Don’t be afraid to try, because if you don’t try you’ll never know,” she advises.

As someone who once didn’t know much about polymer clay and starting a business, Bianca hasn’t forgotten to appreciate how far her passion and hard work have taken her. Even so, she aims to grow Sequined Soul PH by venturing into different products that are more sustainable. In fact, the young artist and entrepreneur also vows to “nourish my talents further, expand my market, and keep creating.”

Bianca has this to say to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Hopefully knowing that someone like me, who didn’t know where to start, and was able to create a business of my own—can inspire you to create your own business, [which] revolves around your passion!”