ABS-CBN's My Puhunan recently featured 36-year-old AJ Opeña as the founder of Nails.Glow.
MANILA, Philippines - Who would have thought manicures and pedicures would help a Filipina become a millionaire?
Thanks to Filipinos' love for pampering themselves, AJ Opeña found success through a nail spa business.
ABS-CBN's My Puhunan recently featured 36-year-old Opeña, who is the founder of Nails.Glow.
"We started the Nails.Glow as a nail spa only. Wala pa siyang massage or scrubs," she said.
The first Nails.Glow was opened in Pag-Asa, Quezon City in just a small 10-square meter space.
"I thought this was a business na hindi malalaos, hindi mawawala," she said.
But behind her success is a sad chapter in her life. When she was 10 years old, her mother left her and her father.
"Nagising ako na may letter from my mom na nakasulat na aalis na siya at maghihiwalay na sila ni Papa," Opeña tearfully recalled.
She admitted it was painful to grow up without a mother. It was her grandmother who raised her.
"Wala kasing means si Mama na buhayin ako, so siguro naisip niya na iiwan na lang ako kay Papa. Masakit kasi may activities sa school na kailangan ng mother, eh wala ako mai-present na mother. Yun father ko, hindi rin naman siya ganoong ka-cooperative sa parent activities sa school. I really missed having a mom," she said.
This painful experience led Opeña to strive harder in life.
In college, a friend helped her through the hard times. Since she had no money for a dorm, she lived with her friend's family.
While studying, she also worked at a fast food chain. She had to learn how to clean the floors and bathroom, and even donned a mascot costume.
"Yun ang values na tinuro ng father ko. Sabi niya, kailangan ko daw magtapos dahil siya personally hindi nagtapos, yun mother ko hindi rin," she said.
Opeña said she always wanted to prove that she wasn't "worth leaving," like what her mother did.
"Yun ang naging dahilan kung bakit lahat ng pinasukan kong work, nag-strive talaga ako. Hindi lang basta makapag-trabaho. Gusto ko maging number one at mag-excel," she said.
She graduated with a degree in accountancy and started working as a sales clerk at a jewelry store.
After getting married in 1999, she and her husband Ferdie worked as med reps.
But Opeña wasn't content being an employee, so she and her husband started a business. They obtained a P200,000 loan to open Nails.Glow in Quezon City.
Opeña herself would do manicures and pedicures at the store, along with four staff.
"In a span of four months, nakuha ko na ang ROI (return on investment) ko," she proudly said. "Pinipilahan kami sa Pag-Asa, kasi affordable ang presyo namin. Maganda ang ambience."
Back then, the price of a manicure was only P50. Now, the price of manicure or pedicure with nail polish is P100, still affordable and cheaper than many nail spas.
Nails.Glow also offers nail art services, massage and facials.
The business has proven to be profitable. She noted that a branch can post a net income of between P150,000 to P200,000 a month.
The company has expanded through franchising, and there are currently 34 branches of Nails.Glow. Nails.Glow established a training center to train employees on properly doing manicures, pedicures and nail art.
Asked about the secret to running a successful business, Opeña said there are no short cuts to success.
"Naniniwala ako na walang short cut sa success ng isang negosyo. Kailangan mag-work hard and maging masipag. Pag nakapag-establish na ng business, kailangan isipin paano pa ito ma-improve," she said.
Her business also helped her reunite with her long-lost mother. In 2012, a Nails.Glow branch opened in Zamboanga, where her mother lived.
After 26 years, she contacted her mother and brother, through Facebook.
"Before galit ako, naiinis ako, pero nung nakita ko siya, parang nawala na lang yun. Nandudoon pa rin yun love. Yun pagkikita namin ng mother ko ang isang magandang gift ni Lord sa akin," Opeña said.