Founded by Czarina Ledesma, and established in 2019, Food Czar desires to make your everyday experiences more special by offering simple, convenient, and unique home-dining experiences. By gathering over 100 of everybody’s favorite restaurants in one virtual house, Food Czar has made party-planning so much simpler. In addition, Food Czar Meal Kits, which feature chef-designed meals, help ensure foodies get to recreate the dining-out experience in the safety of their very own homes. 

Together with Food Czar, Ledesma has a number of other businesses such as Toddler House Manila and LabMobile PH. Toddler House Manila is an exclusive home-based play school where toddlers can make friends and interact through a play-structured type of learning, while LabMobile PH, conducts Antigen Testing, which diagnoses active Coronavirus infections via a throat or nasal swab.

Mothers are superheroes, indeed. From juggling hours of taking care of her children, to spending a big chunk of her time attending to not just one, but multiple businesses that she owns, Czarina Ledesma is definitely a Leading Lady that every woman can look up to. Ledesma shares her insights, from the ups and downs of running a business to how she had adjusted amidst this pandemic.

Tell us about your businesses and what inspired you to start them.

Most of the businesses I put up are actually things I needed. Before I did Food Czar, I had an events company, and for a long time, I didn’t want to do events anymore because it’s a very rigorous life. We were able to pivot it to Food Czar, which was kind of like logistics for food. Basically, my tagline was “Your favourite restaurant now caters.” Now we sell shortcut meal kits and aside from that, we also do fresh daily markets, so we have market pop-ups everyday. Most of the businesses I started are really [based from] what I really wanted or needed.

What were the best and worst parts of running your business?

The best part is that I really have my time. I’m a single mom so having my own time is very important because it’s hard to be at work while running a household. I’m lucky that I have my own time because I have my own business and that, for me, is such a big relief. My businesses are also something I really enjoy, and I’m very passionate about them. I love what I do so it definitely makes it easier to work on everyday. 

What I don’t like about my job is that there’s a lot of moving to do. Businesses aren’t always fun. It’s hard to commit to something through the hard times–especially during these times, the easiest thing to do is to say, “Huwag nalang, let’s shut it down,”  but if that’s what’s gonna happen, you’re going to have a hard time being an entrepreneur because something will happen everyday. It can range from a client getting mad at you or a delivery not getting through, so you’ll need to get a grip throughout the process, and that’s something I don’t like. You have to know what you’re good at so you can be successful. 

What challenges did you face upon starting out, and how did you overcome them?

It was my choice to be in this situation, so [being aware of this], it makes me feel better. These are the businesses I chose for myself, so when the bad comes, [I make all the decisions] and that’s one thing that helps me. The other thing that inspires me [to overcome challenges] is that there are so many men and women out there who have gone ahead of me, who have really done well and none of them made it overnight–[they all] went through hardships. If you don’t go through hardships, you wouldn’t be good at your job, you wouldn’t know how to fix your problems. Having problems isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means you have to be able to learn from the experience so you know how to move forward from them.

In what ways did the pandemic change your businesses? How did you adjust to them?

Just because there’s a pandemic, doesn’t mean that there is no potential for growth, and I think people have to be positive about that. One of the ways we were able to address adjusting in the pandemic is through our food packs. I also don’t cook, and we realised that there are a lot of people out there who live in condos and don’t really like to cook or know how to cook as well, and now because of the pandemic, they suddenly have to cook. So, having everything prepackaged or pre-made, similar to cup noodles, is really what we’re doing–it’s helping [our customers] through the process. 

Finally, what message would you give to aspiring Filipinas who want to pursue their own entrepreneurial journey?

During this pandemic season, really know yourself; know yourself as a person. I think right now is a great time to get into business. Through diversity, a lot of the big businesses have risen, so I think there is still a lot of hope, and if no one takes that chance, no one’s going to be the success story. Take your chance right now. 

However, you also have to take care of yourself. You are the first priority, so if you’re going to risk your mental health, don’t do it right now. It’s not the right time. I think my message for the entrepreneurs during this pandemic is to know yourself and to get to know [what you’re capable of], so you know what to do in the next step of your entrepreneurial journey. 

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