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WOMAN WE LOVE: CHRISTINE BERSOLA BABAO
We were going to be late for our interview with Christine Bersola Babao. She was very specific with the date and time she gave us, Monday from 6PM to 7PM, so we knew her schedule was tight. But because EDSA had all the makings of a Game of Thrones battlefield, we messaged her right away when we knew we were going to be late and asked for a new schedule.
She replied right away, and just couple of minutes later gave us another schedule. Yes, that's how efficient Christine is!
But here's the bigger surprise: Because Christine finished her 7PM appointment ahead of time and knew we were still in the area, she decides to push through with our appointment, her husband Julius Babao in her arms. Fantastic!
Christine was a multi-hyphenate personality long before the term was coined. Not only does she produce her own television show and host a radio program besides, she is also an award-winning children's book author, founder of the country's first online parenting show parenTIN.tv, mom to Antonia and Nio, and wife to Julius.
Her latest venture is Styled Pop-Up Store at the East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza.
Christine admits that she's probably the last person who'd ever dabble in the business of fashion. She says, “I'm not a fashion plate. I'm not a fashionista. But I am businessperson.”
Yes, Christine has always been a serial entrepreneur, having inherited her Mommy Ching's nose for business. Christine's mom is one of the country's original biyaheras. In the eighties, enterprising Filipinas would travel to Bangkok and Hong Kong, shop for all sorts of interesting goodies, and bring those back to the Philippines. Christine's mom was one of those biyaheras.
“She put me through school through her being a bazaarista. We had 10 stalls in Greenhills. All her life, I was there to help her. I was her marketing girl,” she says.
It wasn't surprising then that Christine went into the bazaar business as well, adding, “I've been doing celebrity bazaars for 10 years now.”
As Shangri-La Plaza is one her favorites, Christine broached the idea of a themed bazaar to the mall's bigwigs. They liked the idea but they wanted Christine to do something more – a pop-up store revolving around fashion.
Christine got nervous. Not only was she not an expert in fashion, she also didn't have any experience in running retail space in a mall. She remembers thinking, “Bazaar lang ako!”
Nevertheless, the entrepreneur in her was challenged, and before long, she got her stylist friend Jason Alcoriza on board to help her out. A business management graduate of the Angeles University Foundation with a Masters Degree in Business Administration at the Ateneo, Jason is a celebrity stylist who has worked with Christine for many years. A few months later, Mitch Fernandez, who worked at Zalora's marketing campaigns, joined them.
Last July 2017, Christine unveiled the fruit of their labor: Styled Pop-Up Store. A retail venture dedicated to Filipino entrepreneurship, Styled Pop-Up Store shines the spotlight on 25 homegrown brands, from the couture creations of Ronald Enrico and Collab to the ready-to-wear fashion of Vorge, Jamie Go, and Bennita. Styled Pop-Up Store also features handcrafted leather goods from Katre, fashion accessories of natural materials from Woodchuck, wellness products from Pili Beauty, home accessories from Columnbus, footwear from Wade, jewelry from Love Rocks, and swimwear from Eika.
In a mall populated by some of the world's biggest brands, Styled Pop-Up Store gives Filipino entrepreneurs space to compete with the best of the best, something worth celebrating.
But Styled Pop-Up Store is more than a retail space. “It's not like other stores where you just go in and shop,” she says.
A calendar of activities will keep shoppers engaged. Polaris jewelry, for example, recently hosted a by-invitation only Indian tea party, treating their loyal customers to a memorable afternoon of tea and conversation. Styling and makeover events are also slated for the next few weeks. More than a retail space, Styled Pop-Up Store hopes to be a preferred destination for things new and exciting.
As Christine talks about future plans for the brand, including a spin-off dedicated to home furnishings and accessories, she keeps track of her time. As gleaned earlier, Christine is excellent at time management. She says, “It's a blessing that I don't have a daily network because I have a 12-year-old and a seven-year-old. For the past two years, my schedule has not been as heavy so I've been able to look after them.”
On Saturdays, she has a radio program over at DZRJ and on Sundays, she has a television show over at GMA News TV. Because she produces her own television show, her weekdays are primarily devoted to meeting clients. It also on weekdays that she does administration tasks for Styled Pop-Up Store. She and her team are very hands-on. Not only are they at the store premises every day, they also monitor sales and collaborate on marketing campaigns. “We want everybody to succeed,” she says.
While Christine still has her hands full, she's not only thriving in her crazy-busy schedule, she also seems to revel in it. She takes pride in being a multi-tasker, and in being good at delegating. She admits, for example, that she wouldn't have been able to do Styled Pop-Up Store without Jason and Mitch by her side. “That's how I manage, I delegate.”
Christine looks at her watch once again. It is 8:45PM. As if on cue, her husband looks at her, and she knows it's time to go: “I have to bring him to Bandila.”
With that, Christine gives us a quick kiss and dashes off towards the arms of her husband. Fantastic!