Coming home to Iloilo after working as teachers in Thailand led a couple from Maasin town to open an environment-friendly milk tea business that assured them not only of a steady income but also provided jobs to their fellow Ilonggos amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
What makes their business unique is the use of bamboo cups made by farmers in Maasin, 23-year-old Melanie Dilao said.
“We serve milk tea in a bamboo cup. We use bamboo cups although we also serve using plastic cups, but we encourage having their milk tea in bamboo cups,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.
Bamboos are abundant in Maasin, which has been dubbed as the bamboo capital of Western Visayas. While bamboo cups look heavy and bulky, it is the idea of promoting sustainability and venturing into an eco-friendly business that prompted them to use this material.
Dilao and her partner, Jade Joquiño, 24, worked in Thailand last year. On March 15, they came home supposedly for vacation but the pandemic made it difficult for them to return abroad.
So they thought of putting up a business. Inspired by the milk tea shops that abound in Thailand, they decided to venture into milk tea business and named it Darling’s Milktea.
“Darling” is their term of endearment for each other.
“This is our first business together with my partner. We are very much happy because the bamboo cup was appreciated,” she said.
They opened their first branch at Taft Street, Maasin on July 7 and their second branch at the Mohon Terminal Talipapa Market in Mohon, Arevalo district.
She said at first, it was challenging because of movement restrictions. Still, they took the risk and opened their Darling’s Milktea, which was immediately a hit for the public because of its “Instagrammable” features.
The milk tea comes in 16 and 22 ounces priced at PHP60 and PHP70, respectively. If the customer opts for take-out, they can pay an additional PHP80 for the bamboo cup.
It comes in Classic, Okinawa, and Winter Melon flavors. They also brought in Thai vibes so the Thai Milktea is also readily available.
Apart from steady income, the business also helped generate jobs. The local workers preparing the bamboo cups are managed by Jade’s father, Francisco.
They also have staff helping them in their two shops.
She added that they hope to also expand their business by opening more stores in Iloilo and Western Visayas.
Currently, they are open to those who wanted to put up a semi-franchise of their business. Those who are interested are advised to communicate with them at their official Facebook page @Darling’s Milktea or get in touch with them through 09566193845.
Starting Thursday, their Mohon terminal branch is also partnering with Food Panda for deliveries within the five-kilometer radius.
Amid the pandemic, Dilao has a piece of advice for those who are still hesitant to venture into business.
“Without taking a risk is even riskier. So we need to take risks because it is a step forward to our dream business,” she said. (PNA)