…Continued from Interview with Young Entrepreneur Chingkee Te (Part 1)
Chingkee: Chingkee Tea finally opened on March 2012.
Alex: How did you chose your location?
Chingkee: I just wanted a place near Xavier University. This place (referring to the first Chingkee Tea branch near Corrales St.), was a big risk for us because it’s very hidden. But then it worked out. In all this, I could really see the hand of God moving. If not for His grace, I don’t know where Chingkee Tea would be. I mean, the location is very hidden, but it’s almost always full. Everything else just fit together.
Alex: How did you market Chingkee Tea?
Chingkee: Mainly online. I didn’t know a lot of people in Cdo – only my high school friends. I made a facebook page and created online posters. It became trending because we were the first shabby chic café and a lot of people were curious. Social media was my main marketing tool – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and also word of mouth.
Alex: How was opening day?
Chingkee: The first week of opening was really great. I didn’t expect to have to many customers on the first week. What I’d like to share is my testimony about tithing. It was my dad who really encouraged me to tithe and who reminded me about how important it is to give the first fruits of your labor to God. So on the first Sunday of our opening day, I gave all my sales to God. The following week, our sales doubled. It was really amazing.
Alex: Wow! That’s a great testimony!
Chingkee: I know. God is really amazing.
Alex: How have your parents been through the whole process?
Chingkee: Oh, very very supportive. My parents would come here almost everyday, especially my mom. She would work as the cashier before. And even my brother, Richmond would come to help out. I love it when my brother comes over because he has a lot of fans so my sales really go up. Haha.
Alex: Wow, really?
Chingkee: Yeah. A lot of people say he looks like Xian Lim.
Alex: Oh, so your brother is your main marketing tool!
Chingkee: Haha. Yes! I would so love to keep him here. But he has to go back to Manila.
Alex: How has being a business owner changed you?
Chingkee: It made me more mature. I’m still very childish – my staff knows this. But I think, I’ve grown up a little. I’m a Marketing graduate but I think you’re better at it! (laughs)
Alex: But you have a really likeable personality. Everyone seems to like you immediately.
Chingkee: I’m a bit awkward around people I don’t know, actually. Chingkee Tea really forced me to come out of my shell.
Alex: How do you handle your staff?
Chingkee: I’m actually pretty lenient with them which is both a weakness and a strength. Many of my staff are the children of the workers we had before in our old family business. I’ve grown up with most of them because we all live in one compound. Most of my workers are related to each other. I’ve been very blessed with my staff. Without them, there would be no Chingkee Tea. That’s why we close early compared to other cafés. I don’t want my staff to go home so late. So on Mondays – Thursdays we close at 8PM. On Fridays and Saturdays, we close at 10PM.
Alex: What are your plans for Chingkee Tea? Are you planning to expand?
Chingkee: Yes, I am. A lot of people want to franchise Chingkee Tea but I’m still weighing the pros and cons, because it can be a headache. Right now Chingkee Tea has 2 branches: One near Corrales St. and one in Grand Central.
Alex: What’s your advice for people who want to start their own business?
Chingkee: First, find your purpose in life and then do it. I believe this business was given to me by God so I can help enhance the lives of other people, like my staff and my customers. I’ve heard many stories about people coming to Chingkee Tea, sad and lonely and their coming in here made them feel better. Some of my customers met and became friends here in Chingkee Tea. So it gives me a sense of fulfillment. Chingkee Tea is a testimony of God’s grace and how He has helped me find my life’s purpose.
Second, be passionate about what you are doing. If I weren’t passionate about this, I’d have given up long ago. Running a business is a huge headache and there’s always so much to do.
Third, surround yourself with the right people. I call them my pillars. God, family, friends and mentors.
Chingkee Te & Alex Zeta (left to right)
Alex: Thank you Chingkee! I’ve learned so much from you today. Thank you for the time. Merry Christmas!
Chingkee: Thanks also Alex. It was my pleasure. Merry Christmas!