Ms. Grazel envisioned to expand the business- to establish her own "pasalubong" display area in Baguio City to trade their products, hence, the firm was eventually renamed "Grae's Souvenir Trading" based on the Department of Trade and Industry’s guidance.
In 2019, Ms. Grazel enrolled in the Bread and Pastry Course under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to enhance her skills in baking. Also, the need to upgrade the firm's production process with the increasing customer's demand encouraged Ms. Grazel to apply for DOST's Small Enterprises Upgrading Program which was then granted in the same year.
Ms. Grazel thought that her business life will end this 2020, when businesses were greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as it prompted the closures of the firm's market outlets in Baguio. This also resulted to the firm stopping its operation from March to May 2020.
However, the delivery of bakery equipment funded by DOST-SETUP pursued in May 2020 and this paved way for the firm to continue its operation. The new equipment enabled the firm to innovate new products and produce quality competitive pastries that are not necessarily limited to pasalubong products for tourists.
The firm was able to resume however minimal in June 2020. From six (6) workers, it now only employs two…for now. Its monthly gross sales decreased for about 93%. With the closure of its market outlets until now, it temporarily stopped producing pasalubong baked products. Instead, the firm shifted to other baked products such as cakes and breads-ube cheesedesal, loaf, cinnamon and the like. The firm also tapped retail stores in nearby areas and in Baguio City. In keeping with the new normal, the firm is also now open for resellers.
While there is a need to cope up with the challenges in the business, Ms. Grazel inspires other MSMEs to keep innovating products that is marketable for tourists and locals alike. "Hopefully in the near future, we could employ more especially those that are directly affected by the pandemic like us. That we may be an example of the Highlander’s resilience, unity and determination" added Ms. Grazel as she aspires to keep up their business despite the Covid-19 pandemic.// CGD, DOST- Benguet