Saturday, October 9, 2010

Impressca and the Story Behind the Healthy Food Choice

I had the opportunity to try out the salad and sandwich offerings at Impressca when I went shopping at the 3-day sale of SM Cubao. They had just opened that same day and I have a feeling that it will be a brand that many food lovers, particularly vegetarians and health conscious folks, would surely patronize and enjoy. I read about how it started and I was very inspired. I thought, why not publish here the very essay written by its owner on how it all started? So here it is. The following is an essay by Elizabeth Ella Echano, the brain behind the new and very impressive food outlet, Impressca.

“For the Love of Creation”

I came from humble beginnings but with enormous dreams. My parents were teachers, thus, I was nurtured to broaden my horizon leading to a personal intuition towards entrepreneurship. I learned in college that success is “One percent luck and ninety-nine percent sweat”. In everything I do to try to gain headway in my pursuit for a meaningful business, I am always guided of this line from Martin Luther which consistently become my cling in every step I’m on … “I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.” I am starting my entrepreneurial story with the above lines because IMPRESSCA’s birth is 100% guts plus 100% faith.

Impressca has a variety of healthy dishes to choose from.

It was May 1, 2008 when my daughter and I packed up things and went to Manila to realize the dream of my only child Icy to meet DENR Secretary Lito Atienza. Icy at 5 years old then was a very young environmental activist who joins me in my environmental lectures, forums, organizations and other activities and she wanted to meet the Secretary to express her views on what she can help in the climate change adaptation. After realizing Icy’s meeting with Sec. Atienza, I was lead to a very important decision that would lead my family to a positive and more meaningful life. And so, by following the advice of my daughter’s Child Psychologist to send her in the school she deserves which is in Manila in order to support her advancements, I courageously adhere to the promptings of my heart and my intuition to unfold what’s in store for me too in our new life in the city leaving my job as a college instructor of the Entrepreneurship department at Camarines Norte State College.

This is their eat all you can salad bar for only P100.00

I know from the very start the difficulty of urban living especially that I don’t have yet a job to support our everyday needs. My cousins supported us during our adjustment period. We rented an apartment room in La Loma, Quezon City. When my daughter is in the school, it was my time to look for a job. I tried 5 call centers and these 5 have turned me down. I tried to become a sales agent but when I was about to be hired, I refused to accept the job because of the distance of 5 rides from our boarding house that will eat away my time and energy. For another 2 months of job hunting, I didn’t find any. And when I was having a serendipity walk at the nearest mall in our place –SM City San Lazaro, I paused on the videos featuring Henry Sy, Sr. in celebration of the 50th founding anniversary of SM. There were lots of pictures about the history of SM in front of the food court. I read the story of the Mall magnate and this quotation inspired me… “Not so many people can do it. You may have the interest but not the resources. You may have the resources but not the interest. You may have both the interest and resources but not the guts. You must have the guts in order to do it. You have to look long-term. You must be optimistic.”

Impressca meals are really very affordable!

It was my turning point. The entrepreneurial spirit in me was as intense as the words from Henry Sy, Sr. keeps on ringing in my ear. I felt that I have to do something different, something bold and missionary; a one of a kind social entrepreneurship. Equipped with the fire of high expectations burning in my heart, unflinchingly, I finally decided to be a part of SM City San Lazaro in December 6, 2008 as a simple entrepreneur specializing in salad recipes for mind, body and soul. I believed no matter how daunting the task in starting a business, it was the first step on the right direction. As a dreamer brimming with visionary ideas and enthusiasm, I took exception to the findings that a big majority of start-up micro, small and medium enterprises fails within the first 5 years of its existence due to poor financial management. That is actually what happened to me. I failed not only once, not twice but several times in my previous business undertakings. But in the light of faith, everything is grace. Those adversities that happened to me were turned into a roadmap of a new journey through a positive spirit.

That's my salad!

IMPRESSCA “Healthy choices, healthy pleasures!” business at SM City San Lazaro was borne from my passion for healthy food and healthy eating drawn from my very own experiences of using naturally healthy ingredients as part of our daily meals from our typically rural family who thrived on all-natural, fresh, local ingredients sourced from our very own backyard. I reminisced the days when my family used to harvest “cacao”, “oregano”, “sambong” and “tsaang gubat” (wild tea) to meet our daily needs for natural, healthy breakfast drinks. I ponder on my childhood’s upbringing and education from my father on the essential nutrients found in Mother Nature’s produce just within our garden. I was taught to make the lowly “malunggay” be present in every meal; to take herbs such as “oregano” and “sambong” as extra source of super-protection from many kinds of diseases and one effective way to combat the onslaught of pollution; eat “camote” – the magic root crop because of its multi-vitamins and minerals, fiber rich and a good source of complex carbohydrates. The fresh kalamansi, balimbing and buko juice are the best thirst quenchers; still just at the back of our yard is the source of the native fruit salad ingredients which I always prepare blended in fresh coconut milk mixed with fruits like avocado – which is rich in Vitamin E, an important skin nutrient that prevents aging, wrinkling, and stretch marks, chessa fruit - a good source of Vitamin A, lacatan – the better source of Vitamin C than apple. All these basic health education I’ve learned were put to the next level out of my innate baking and healthy gourmet culinary skills. Who would think that the best taste of spaghetti is the one with freshly chopped oregano leaves? Who would think of the sumptuous “Underground Salad” a camote ingredient? Having a creative mind can turn a simple ingredient into a world-class product.

My take home Panini!!! Yummy!!!

When I started as a simple food kiosk business, I didn’t realize that healthy salads and meals will quickly create a very unique yet solid market in the face of many fast-food and higher-end options. It became clear to me that health consciousness is universal, and affects Filipinos from all walks of life, especially in the midst of the growing popularity of healthier alternatives for better health and weight as well as the challenges of unhealthy choices that are harmful to our children and loved ones. The fast growth of IMPRESSCA as a unique healthy kiosk is just a manifestation that personal health is now in the sub-conscious minds of our B, C and D markets. My strong and genuine concern to healthful living is the main reason that drives me to continuously innovate products which I believe would be patronized by young and old through creative marketing and branding and unique pricing.

Decorate your own Salad!

The fast growth of IMPRESSCA is a miracle. For one and a half years, it created three franchise outlets. Another two franchise outlets are opening early next year and several franchise applicants are being evaluated. The qualification set for franchisee is simple but so different among others. I raise this question to them directly: “Do you have passion for health and environmental preservation?” If he could answer this question with a promising hope to our Mother Nature then, he is a potential “partner”. For the process of IMPRESSCA in choosing franchisees is not only all about their financial capacity, entrepreneurial acumen but a BIG GREEN HEART full of love to mankind and to Mother Earth willing to share and embrace social responsibility.

Thinking of providing more healthy alternatives and product life cycles to our valued customers is also caring for our nature. Serving our customers whether take-out or dine-in the salads, organic rice meals, pasta, homemade light salad dressings, organic muscovado sugar for our local yet delicious brewed coffee, fresh nature’s juices, veggie and fruit shakes, whole wheat bread are somewhat great acts of sustaining our Mother Nature. Every small deed of preserving our planet is an act of worship. It is our bowed knee to the One who created the Earth and calls us to live in it. Charity begins at home; everyone has a role to play, from our homes to the streets to our schools, to movie houses and even the parks.

You can make your salad look Christmassy!

In my franchising pursuits, I embrace the social responsibility of generating public awareness and action towards preserving the environment. Intertwining environmental concerns with business exploits is the reason why environmental issues are now rewriting the rules for business, investors and consumers. I believe that we should never compromise the environment in the pursuit of business advancement. I take it as a fundamental obligation that as the franchisor, I will carry the torch of living up to challenge of halting environmental abuses starting in proper wastes segregation which is successfully incorporated in our system. I am also pushing forward to procure materials in ways that are more energy-efficient and produce less waste, and moving assertively in other ways to make sure that IMPRESSCA business activities are environment – friendly. Each Franchisee signs an agreement which is the - “Pledge to Mother Earth” during the franchise agreement sign-up being a partner of IMPRESSCA’s corporate social responsibility. Another initiative is the “Green Card” – the IMPRESSCA’s customers’ loyalty card focusing on the role of each customer to environmental preservation. The Green Card has involved our customers to plant trees because for every minimum purchase of 200 pesos, they have planted already a single tree.

Five years from now, IMPRESSCA shall be woven itself into the very fabric of society. As I march forward, the measure of my business is my people. I cannot succeed if my employees are not given opportunities to grow because side by side with my business is to cultivate human potential and able to let them live with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Making people happy and satisfied is a great fulfillment in my past. I have a crucial role to follow to continue to follow to continue to raise the bar of excellence in serving people. Customer confidence is at an all time high. Providing quality service makes IMPRESSCA an ideal place to frequent. My excellent and trusting relationship with my people cannot be equated in pecuniary terms. I trust them and even solicit their advice to improve our service adhering to what the famous author David Dunn has said: “Listen to people and learn of their hopes and their problems so that you may be able to contribute in little ways to their success and happiness”. IMPRESSCA is an icon of a company which consistently lives, breathes, and expresses in all that it does and committed not only to “What should we value?” It asks, “What do we actually value deep down to our toes?”

Furthermore, IMPRESSCA’s revival has to be fully guarded with technologies to support its’ complicating franchise business in order to achieve maximum profit and to avoid wastes of resources. The entrepreneurs who are remembered at the end of this century will be the people who maximize the use of technology. What is the next internet? Where will communications be in 25 years? How will information be delivered, and on what devices? The people who figure out the answers to those questions will be entrepreneurs at the forefront of their industries and IMPRESSCA would definitely be one of them through the power of technology. Doing business keeping on the top of technology assures every entrepreneur of a safe, effective and sustainable enterprise. This has been my experience by having an IP camera that views the business operations and monitored via internet. I have battled shrinkage, theft, invisible loses, employees dishonesty in the past. Those pitfalls were addressed now by the technology products designed to help small and medium enterprises.

One’s lifetime in this beautiful world will not last forever but what you did with the life you had shall be marked forever. Simple entrepreneurship would just plainly give us financial freedom, yet if we could also practice the thing called social entrepreneurship, this will bring us more than money could give – priceless – peace and joy. We are in the business of preserving and improving human life. All our actions must be measured by our success in achieving this goal. IMPRESSCA is changing the world with its’ BIG GREEN HEART - today, tomorrow and for the next generations; all of these because of my love for creation.


Elizabeth Ella Echano is: •A BS Business Administration graduate major in Entrepreneurship in 1994 and 2007 Masters in Management graduate of Bicol University • An ELBA graduate of Asian Institute of Management in 2001 • Recipient of “Presidential Youth Achiever’s Awards” for Entrepreneurship in 1999 given by the National Youth Commission • A gourmet Chef and advocate of healthy living & alternatives • An environmentalist and eco-education mentor • Adherent and living with unique Social Entrepreneurship

1 comment:

  1. where are your outlets located? do you have one at Mall of Asia?



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