What started as a “pakisuyo” became a lucrative business for an enterprising young Filipina.
Ishka Villacisneros-Tusjakova is the 27-year-old founder of Californila¸ a ‘personal shopping’ online store where customers from Manila can purchase items which are only available in the US.
She said that the idea behind Californila goes back to the Filipino tradition of sending balikbayan boxes. With the money she earned from her part-time work in a café in California, she would buy and send items for her friends and relatives in the Philippines.
Soon enough, her friends and relatives offered to cover her transportation and shipping expenses. At that point, Ishka decided to embark on this business undertaking by creating an online store.
It was not easy at first. Ishka had to juggle between jobs and other responsibilities; not to mention that, at that time, she does not have the money to fund orders from her customers.
She also had to be awake and working nearly 24/7 because she needs to attend to her Filipino clients, who are in a different time zone from hers. Add to that the demands of her full-time and part-time jobs that she needs to keep to fund her growing business.
Ishka learned the value of work earlier than most people of her age. At age 11, she started working on clerical tasks in the company of her parents. Through this job, she learned how to multi-task and to spot a good opportunity when she sees one.
Now, Ishka’s Californila provides a source of income, not only for herself but her relatives as well. One of her “more matured” staff is one of her social media managers who also happens to be her 83-year-old grandmother!
When asked for advice to would-be entrepreneurs here or in a foreign land, Ishka said, “Life is all about taking risks, if you never take a chance you will never achieve your dreams because you’ll be in the same place as you were yesterday. Great achievements happen when you step out of your comfort zone, building this business took a lot of hard work and perseverance. You either take the risk or lose an opportunity to be a better version of yourself.”