MANILA - Miriam Quiambao rose to fame in 1999, when she finished first runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant.
She has since ventured into showbiz, hosting various shows on television. After remarrying, she also became a book author and inspirational speaker.
But did you know that on top of all these, she is also a businesswoman?
"In 2002, I started investing in real estate," Quiambao recalled during the recent Franchise Asia Philippines 2017 conference, where she was one of the guest speakers. "What I like about having a business is that my money works for me. I don't have to be always present in order for me to make money."
In 2015, Quiambao and her husband decided to try to get a franchise. During a trip to Cebu, the two chanced upon Tubo Cane Juice, which specializes in sugar cane drinks.
"I remember when we were young, we would go to the palengke and pick up stalks of sugar cane and we would chew on it. So it brought back memories from my childhood," she said. "So sabi namin, let's go and try it out... In the end, we bought three cups. Ang sarap eh!"
"While were drinking, my husband saw the sign in the stall that says, for franchising inquiries, e-mail this address. So my husband sent him an e-mail and the owner is actually an Austrian who is based in Cebu for many years now. He married a Cebuana and has been traveling around Asia."
Months later, the couple established Sugar Manna Food Ventures, which allowed them to use the Tubo Cane Juice brand.
In a span of one year, they opened seven branches in Metro Manila.
Quiambao admitted, however, that they had to close down two stores because "they were operating below break even."
"Akala namin after the first five branches opened, okay na. So sobra kaming na-excite, nagbukas kami ng dalawa pa. Tapos napapansin namin na parang 'di kami kumikita... And then we found out that these two branches were operating below break even. Eh ang tagal pang matapos noong contract," she said.
"So we had to negotiate with the boss to allow us to close earlier so that ma-close na rin 'yung outlets na 'yun. After that, positive na kami ulit," she added.
Learning from their experience, Quiambao made sure that all the stores have dedicated, polite, and skilled staff as well as seasonal offers to attract more customers.
The beauty queen stressed the importance of providing training and assistance to staff.
"Kailangang masaya sila, kailangang ma-enhance ang pag-iisip nila. The past year, may mga seminars 'yung mga staff namin kung paano makapag-ipon ng pera para ma-achieve ang mga pangarap nila."
"With my business, I'm able to help others make money also... Pangarap nilang (staff) makapagtapos ng pag-aaral, pangarap nilang umangat ang pamilya nila," she ended.