When the world was forced into isolation, loneliness became the norm and intimacy turned into an intangible concept beyond our reach. It was an era where we had to go the extra mile to ensure our loved ones were faring well in the middle of a health crisis.
It was this demand for affection that pushed MJ and Celeste dela Cerna to create Le Petit Bouquet Manille, a venture under the local lifestyle brand Manang.ph. Le Petit offers fresh and dried mini bouquets, priced at P150 to P180 each, ready to be delivered to your special someone at any time within the day.
Le Petit started on February 4 this year, just in time for Valentine’s Day. With a mission to make gestures of love accessible and affordable, Le Petit first started selling their blooms online, occasionally doing bazaar pop-ups around Metro Manila.
“We came up with the mini bouquets, which are more common in other countries. We were inspired by beautiful bridal bouquets at first since they are easily carried but still look cute and dainty. We then proceeded to conceptualize and create flower arrangements that would cater to the Filipino market, while also designing our own paper cones to hold the flowers.”
—Celeste dela Cerna
With the economy in limbo, currencies of affection became much more expensive, albeit much more common. From cakes, cookies to flowers, we saw a rise in demand for gifts that would be able to say everything we wish we could, socially distanced and all.
“Our mini bouquets are very affordable because we want everyone to be able to express their small gestures of love,” MJ says. “Because of the pandemic, we thought that some folks may not be willing to spend a lot on flowers.”
Traditional flower arrangements typically cost over P1,000, and are a luxury to many middle-class Filipinos. Le Petit manages to keep its prices low as they create charming and unique arrangements with locally sourced materials, aiming to help local farmers in provinces such as Benguet, Laguna, and Batangas. Le Petit is also the first to offer this type of arrangement in the market.
The Parañaque-based husband and wife team first gained traction when a video of MJ selling their flowers went viral. MJ was photographed selling the bouquets at a parking lot in Pasay, with the vibrant blooms in full display. In the video, he recounted to vlogger Mark Kelvin (Kelvinmarkulit) how his wife came up with the idea of mini bouquets.
The couple’s love story and passion for their products gave them more than 110,000 views on Tiktok.
For Celeste and MJ, their growing following is only one aspect of their long-term goal to continue to “generate thoughtfulness, kindness, and appreciation,” and ultimately “spread love.”
With this in mind, the pair went on to win in the first episode of “Scale Up: The Show,” Maya Business’ newest series. MJ and Celeste bested three other competitors, winning P150,000. They aim to someday scale up, and be able to establish kiosks or physical stores for Le Petit.
In the future, the couple also plans to do business in major cities such as Cebu and Davao.
“We plan on starting a franchise in the long term, and this is just the first step,” Celeste adds.
Their idea to offer Filipinos with game-changing mini bouquets, a cheap option for gift giving, impressed all three judges—Maya Chief Marketing Officer Pepe Torres, Tiny Buds co-founder Lorin Tan, and Boozy PH CEO Miguel Guerrero.
MJ and Celeste were chosen as one of the five finalists from which one Scale Up winner will be chosen to receive the grand prize of P500,000, together with mentorship and support from Maya Business.
“Scaling up is one of the biggest challenges for small business owners. At Maya, we’re addressing this by providing payment tools, business management solutions, easier access to capital, and a wider market through our ecosystem. Filipinos are naturally entrepreneurial, and we hope to inspire other aspiring business owners to make their move with Maya Business so they can grow their businesses further,” said Pepe Torres, Chief Marketing Officer of Maya.
As the all-in-one growth partner of enterprises in the Philippines, Maya Business provides entrepreneurs with convenient digital payment solutions and banking services under one integrated platform.
For example, MSMEs using Shopify can avail of the Maya Checkout Plugin for seamless payment acceptance of credit, debit, and prepaid cards as well as e-wallets. They can use Maya Disbursements for their employee payroll and supplier payments.
The six “Scale Up: the Show” episodes will air every 7PM on July 18, July 25, August 1, August 8, August 15, and August 22. Catch them on the One News Facebook and Youtube page and get inspired by the modern entrepreneurs’ passion, hard work, and possibilities with Maya Business.