A pharmacist of a dermatological company asked me to partner with her to put up our own drugstore with me as the industrial partner. I’m good at selling and have always been very good at building relationships with clients.
After a short period of time, I decided to go to London to work as a domestic helper because I felt that our business partnership will not last.
I worked for a couple, a British man with a Filipino wife, who had a very haughty attitude. I had a hard time because I was an all-around helper. I barely slept at night because I was also assigned to take care of their children.
Fortunately, I was able to find new work, this time for a Jewish family who were very kind and understanding. They even allowed me to study cosmetic formulations, procedures in facials and other beauty treatments through distance learning.
I didn’t even stay long in the United Kingdom, just around a year, from 1988 to 1989, because life threw different challenges that I had to go back to the Philippines.
First, my business partner and I parted ways, leaving the shop with one empty cabinet and a Santo Niño. Then, my father was diagnosed with cancer.
Back here in the Philippines, the little money I saved in the UK went to my father’s hospitalization bills and medicines. I felt hopeless, but I also had to encourage myself to keep going on my journey.
I started again with a small drugstore in Sampaloc, Manila, which I called Beauchamps Pharmacy. The building isn’t even there anymore. I always wish I took a photo.
I really had no idea my small business is going to grow into what it is today. I just started doing skin-care formulations in a small steel pot. I was a one-woman show, doing the formulations while also acting as the medical representative for my own company.
It is really hard because I had to buy the raw materials, do the packaging, the labeling, the delivery and even the collection.
Looking back, I’m thankful for my old clients who remained loyal to me. The pharmacists would often get me because they know my strength when it comes to selling. I also became friends with many esteemed doctors in the field, who became the pillars of my business.
My business grew mainly from word of mouth because when I started I didn’t even have capital. The doctors would learn from other doctors that they would get their products from me because the products worked, and the patients would see improvement in one to three days. I never thought to shut the business, nor did I think it would grow. I just kept going every day. Whatever my situation in life, at the end of the day, I accepted it.
I guess it’s true what they say that if you serve and honor your parents, you will be rewarded. I don’t even know how it happened, but my business just grew. I was able to set up a laboratory in my hometown in San Pablo, Laguna. I didn’t even need to take a loan for that. I was also able to buy an office building in Manila without getting a bank loan. I was just grateful for all the blessings. My first purchase was a townhouse that I assiduously paid for in installments.
In 1991, at the age of 27, I earned my first million. I just religiously put away 20 percent of my earnings in the bank and I would forget I had that money, and then I would see it had already earned interest. I put it in time deposits, trust funds and insurance plans. Every time I have savings, I put it in investments or I put it in land. Marami akong atikha ng lupa. That means I bought land. That’s how we say it in the province. Maybe my attachment to land—apart from conventional wisdom that it’s always good investment—is because we were farmers. The discipline I had in my formative years, I owe to my parents. They taught me the value of hard work, passion, dedication and, more important, malasakit sa kapwa.
When I was awarded as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World (Global FWN100) by the Filipina Women’s Network this year, I felt overwhelmed and honored to show my capability as a Filipino and as a woman in inspiring other business entrepreneurs. I am more motivated to encourage people to reach dazzling heights no matter how humble their beginnings. I have no doubt that my tenacity comes from the values of hard work instilled in me growing up.
The only secret to success is hard work and dedication. The old adage “sipag at tiyaga” is always relevant, and an honest and forthright relationship with clients. The products I make are of really good quality. I woke up one day and I realized I had BCP Dermatological Corp., Stalder Laboratories, and Diana Stalder Face, Body, Skincare Center (formerly known as Dermaline Inc.). I believe I was guided by my father. I realized only recently, and it was like the Lord said to me, “You may not have become the brain surgeon you wanted to be, but little did you know, many doctors became your clients.” At the end of the day, all blessings came from God and I just want to offer everything back to Him.