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The year 2020 was surely an unforgettable year for everyone, it was a year of uncertainty, fear and depression. Many have failed the challenges of the pandemic, but immense number of people also braved and succeeded in the battles of this trying time.

The successes and triumphs came in different forms. To most, good health is the greatest victory achieved last year, while others ventured into businesses, which flourished during the lockdowns. And there were a handful who really made a difference not just because they earned a good profit, but they were the ones who slaved the hours away and fought hard not just for themselves but also for the people who depended on them. These conquerors had the sweetest taste of victory just like the Macaraig couple who almost fell on their knees while trying to save the business, which they just establish in 2019.

Marvin and Jessa Macaraig are the founders and owners of the growing beauty and aesthetic clinic – The Pretty You. However, before they finally found the perfect investment for their savings, the couple ventured into different trades as they try their hands on different small-scale businesses like online selling of whatever-you-can-think-of products. They also opened a retail shop of plastic wares, which according to them was doing well, but they had to close since the owner of the place they were renting will occupy it.

Admittedly, they felt that something is missing, that the businesses they have tried were not really meant for them. “We did well with the businesses we tried but for no reason, suddenly, things don’t feel right until in October 2019 we opened our first beauty clinic in Mandaluyong City,” recalled Jessa.

The husband and wife, who used to work for a pharmaceutical company as medical representatives, and where they fell in love with each other, finally felt that they were on the right track. “My wife is really good in business development, so, in a short span of time, we opened our two more branches in Pasig and Taguig cities. These are all her ideas, she’s really good at these,” Marvin shared.

“I can plan and design the products and services we will offer but Marvin does the management, since he is more adept in running our businesses because he has the managerial skills, he is also good with people. This gives us the balance,” Jessa quipped.

The husband-and-wife team of Jessa and Marvin Macaraig opened The Pretty You because they “want their customers to experience a beautifying treat with less frills but at an affordable price.” It offered manicures, pedicures, skin tightening, lashes, eyebrows, lip blushing, facial treatments, beauty drips, cautery, and other non-invasive procedures. In short, it was a one stop shop for all your beauty needs.

Jessa has always enjoyed going to beauty clinics to make herself look and feel good. When she decided to go into the beauty clinic business, Jessa made sure that she is on top of everything. She studied medical aesthetics and took up other courses on permanent make up and microblading.

“We also have dermatologists in the clinic now and they are the ones who supervise the services that we offer there,” she said.

The business was doing so well that the couple decided to franchise The Pretty You and because of this, Pasig and Taguig outlets were opened. Everything, however, ground to a halt in March 2020 when President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the entire Luzon will be under an enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, thanks to the pandemic brought about by the coronavirus disease or Covid-19.

Businesses were forced to stop operating, people had to stay and home and there was no transportation. There was a lot of uncertainty at that time because there was no clear indication as to how long Luzon would be placed under ECQ. The only establishments that were operating at that time were hospitals, groceries, markets, pharmacies, and banks but people were only allowed to go out during certain times of the day. A curfew was also imposed at night.

Jessa did not allow the situation to dampen her entrepreneurial spirit. She was determined to find a business that would not only help her family overcame the pandemic but her staff as well. “When Marvin and I were starting as a couple, I am already determined to have our own business that’s why I tried selling different products. And when we were already feeling the effects of the pandemic, I sorted to selling and delivery of (via online) Samgyupsal meals,” Jessa recalled.

“We almost thought of selling or closing our beauty centers but we cannot because we have employees who are depending on us,” Marvin added.

It was during this time that Jessa and Marvin came up with producing not only soap products but other beauty products as well, thus, the Belleskin line was borne.

Thanks to a chemist who developed a prominent papaya soap brand, the couple produced the soap on their own with Marvin literally stirring the large vat containing the mixture until it was deemed ready to be cooled down and then poured into the soap molds.

“We would allow the mixture to cool for one whole day before pouring them into the molds,” Marvin related. “The molds would then be allowed to harden and that usually takes another day. When it is all ready, we would personally wrap each piece of soap and then sell them.”

“The soap was formulated considering the type of skin our users have,” Jessa said. “We make sure that it is mild and yet has an intensive glowing effect on our skin.” “One of the things that our clients were looking for were skin care products, so we actually started it before. We just had more time to develop it during the lockdown.”

The line of BelleSkin soaps include SnowBelle, Orabelle and Margarette Intensive Whitening Soap. The top-of-the-line soap is SnowBelle, which contains 12 active ingredients such as coconut oil, grapeseed oil, snail extract, aloe vera and glutathione.

In addition to their line of soaps, the Macaraig couple also came out with different beauty sets – Dermpeel Set, Perfect Pit Set, Glowlush Set, Primeglow Set and LuxSkin Set – that would not only give customers healthy and glowing skin but also a business opportunity for them.

The Food and Drug certification for BelleSkin’s soap products came out on November 1, 2020, giving the couple the go signal to formally introduce BelleSkin to the market.

“There are opportunities out there even if there is a pandemic and thanks to this, we were able to come up with a line of products that will hopefully be a source of income for everyone,” Jessa said.

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