From their humble apartment in Hoofdorp, the Netherlands, Rhea and Dennis started dreaming big. They took the path not many Filipino entrepreneurs take, create and develop their own Filipino food products instead of importing them from the Philippines. Over the years they were able to produce multiple food brands, catering not just to Filipinos but the rest of the European market as well.
Rhea Topacio and Dennis Rogacion, makers of Luneta Ice Cream, Guapito Premium Beer and Ubeness Purple Yam Flavoring, are not new to the challenges small entrepreneurs face when carving their name in the European niche market.
“New food products are difficult to develop. You put in a lot of hours in researching and developing the taste, then try to turn it into a profitable brand. We also adhere to strict Dutch and European health and safety regulations, so our production facility is strictly scrutinize to ensure that our products are safe for consumption. The biggest challenge perhaps is taking a big risk in introducing new flavours or unknown products. You’ll never know how the market will react,” says Rhea.
As a family business, Rhea is responsible for the marketing and operations of the business. Her husband Dennis takes care of planning and logistical requirements of the company, while their daughter Rheaen, one of their biggest fans and critics, provides creative inputs and advise them on the latest marketing trends.
Since 2010, the business duo had experimented with different food products that they put out in the market, from home-made chocolates, designer cupcakes, and ribs joint. They believe that their experiences in developing a variety of products have taught them to handle the obstacles coming their way.
“Each brand, each product taught us valuable lessons. We try to focus on what the consumer needs and wants, market trends and streamline operations in meeting the demands.” Dennis explains.
Patience, courage and optimism helped the couple sail through the most challenging years of their business, particularly the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected the sale of their beer product due to restaurant closures.
Using the pandemic to re-evaluate their strategies and improve their food products, the couple realized that they need to be more resourceful to make their business model work.
“There are countless setbacks and reasons to be discouraged during this first decade, like funds, time, competition and supplies, but we strive through it. We use these factors to be more creative, to improve our business and ourselves so we can serve more people. Ever since we started, we have always hoped to inspire dreamers like us, that no dream is too big to achieve, ” Rhea concludes.
Visit their websites www.lunetaicecream.com, www.guapitobeer.com, and www.ubeness.com, to see the range of products they offer.