No one saw the pandemic coming. For business owners, each lockdown meant closing shop while brainstorming ways to stay afloat. But at some point, we need to learn to get up and roll with the punches. Take cues from Spruce’s Managing Director, Trisha Tamparong, and how she learned to lead her business in the new normal.
Throwback to the early 2000s, Spruce had its humble beginnings as a Happy Feet footwear pop-up store at Trisha’s photography studio. It was her sister, Vanessa, who initially thought of the setup. After a few months of dedicated text blasts, the pop-up grew and even earned loyal patrons. It wasn’t until 2005 that Trisha’s sisters, Vanessa and Aimi, turned their pop-up store into an official store as they were awarded the sub-distributorship for Havaianas in Northern and Western Mindanao.
Spruce was selling curated products from fashion brands like Aranaz bags, Get Happy by Happy David, Happy Feet, Cole Vintage, and Havaianas. It was a hit, to say the least, because lines started forming outside Spruce with ladies eagerly waiting for their turn to shop.
Soon, Trisha officially jumped the Spruce bandwagon and took charge of Marketing and HR as managing director. As of writing, Spruce already has seven stores along with two All Flip-Flops pop-up stores, and a couple of Sunnies Studios kiosks.
Adapting To The New Normal
Like all other businesses, Spruce was greatly affected by the pandemic. Trisha’s first major concern was how to maintain a healthy and safe workforce. “We divided our employees into two teams. Each team had a representative from the different departments. This way, if team A gets exposed to a person who tests positive for COVID-19, team B can function while team A undergoes quarantine,” Trisha explains.
I am thankful that as a company, we have partnered with Globe Business.
Trisha also pondered how she would be able to coordinate with work-from-home and on-site employees as well as connect with customers who are mostly at home. “I am thankful that as a company, we have partnered with Globe Business. When the pandemic started, we didn't have problems upgrading our internet connection at the office,” she shares.
With Globe Business, Trish was able to establish ways of working in the new normal. “Our HR Team worked with Globe Business for our HR Portal Clockwise. This was such a blessing because our team could time in with their phones whenever everyone has to work from home. The payroll could be done by our HR Team anywhere, too.”
Finding Digital Solutions
Trisha’s second major concern was how to reach out to customers who have decided to stay home. “Our solution was to set up individual pages for our stores. We started live virtual ‘closets’ to show what's available and new in store. Our sales associates also switched to online selling. Facebook fan pages also worked for us. [This is something] Globe Telecom offered for free to their subscribers,” Trisha says.
She continues by sharing, “Since our switch to online selling, we have partnered with different delivery services and are working on improving our existing Spruce website. For that, Globe Business helped connect us with the right people to upgrade our online store. Soon, we will be able to accept online credit card payments, GCash, and other payment options so online shopping can be easier for our customers.”
With her sisters' help, Trisha learned to adapt to the times and lead Spruce in the new normal. She veered away from traditional methods and learned to operate the company through numerous Globe Business digital solutions like GCash for cashless payments, Cloud Payroll to disburse salaries through an automated payroll system, Amber to send messages to thousands of her customers in one click, and the Vehicle Tracker to monitor deliveries in real time. They also upgraded their stores’ internet connection and provided their teams with phones so they can stay connected.
Her Support System
Trisha is thankful to her sister Aimi for being a solid driving force and support system throughout the pandemic. “Because of [her], I have learned to be open to try new ideas, to throw away traditional means, and to come up with something new. If it doesn't work, try another. Ask team members what they think and come up with solutions together!”
Nowadays, Trisha and her sisters operate Spruce digitally to thrive in the new normal. Here’s her advice to fellow business owners and start-ups facing similar challenges: “Hiring the right people for the job is key; people who value their work and the company. We take care of them and they take care of us.”
Globe Business supports MSMEs as they build their businesses better, especially during these trying times. It offers business solutions for continuity, cloud, connectivity, cybersecurity, data center, mobility, and more.
Globe Business and its partners also provide learning and upskilling workshops for their clients. It also hosts online events like Globe Business DigiStore to further assist Filipino entrepreneurs in promoting their respective businesses.