Lactabites founder on her journey: "Even with limited budget you can still become a mompreneur"

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The mompreneur shares her journey from struggling with low milk supply to founding a thriving homebased business which led her to a new passion...

Wanting to feed your child, but not being able to will your body to produce the milk your little one needs can cause feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Moms who have struggled with low milk supply know this well. Charisse Santos-Agulto was one of them.

After two years of trying, she and her husband welcomed a son, who they named Matteo, in 2013.

When Matteo was born, Charisse had no choice but to do mixed feeding, which was difficult for her. “I took it real hard and dealing with the fact that I have low milk supply was an everyday struggle for me.”

As a first time mom who was determined to breastfeed exclusively, she wasn’t expecting to have low milk supply issues. She recounts resorting to all milk boosting options she could find, like fenugreek, malunggay oil and capsules, hot baths and in 2011, she stumbled upon lactation cookies. Unfortunately, they were too expensive.

It was her own need that spurred her to hit the kitchen and whip up her own batch of these milk-boosting cookies.

And that’s how popular cookie brand Lactabites was born in 2014.

“Lactabites (coined from Lactation Bites) was born not because my main priority was to build a business and earn profit. My brand’s core was to reach out to so many mothers out there that needs support…”

Lactabites founder on her journey:

photo courtesy of Charisse Agulto

In an interview with theAsianparent Philippines, the mompreneur recounted the early days of her growing business.

“Lactabites (coined from Lactation Bites) was born not because my main priority was to build a business and earn profit. My brand’s core was to reach out to so many mothers out there that needs support. During my time, I felt that mix feeding or giving your child formula was a taboo and I failed as a mom for not being able to provide for my child. I couldn’t find a group that I won’t feel being judged,” she confided, crediting her husband, mom, and sister for the being the best support group throughout her breastfeeding journey, which also included battling postpartum depression.

“I couldn’t have made it without them. They were my source of strength and comfort. I felt that through Lactabites, I can help one mom at a time and give them the extra boost of courage that no matter what happens, we are all good mothers and we’re doing the best for our child, the best way we can,” Charisse explains.

As a first time mom, she says she “never thought motherhood (could) be so hard, but at the same time bring so much joy that you don’t know how to describe it.”

Lactabites founder on her journey:

photo courtesy of Charisse Agulto

The millennial mom then harnessed the power of social media to kickstart her first business venture.

“Since I am working full time, I bake on a per order basis. This way my LactaMoms (my mommy clients) are assured of getting freshly baked cookies as well,” said Cha, adding how she only has two cookie variations, Chocolate Chip, which was a result of several cookie recipes until she found the perfect balance that suited her taste and Oats and Walnut, an adaptation of her Tita Lucy’s good ol’ oatmeal cookie recipe.

Though she is enjoying the sweet taste of victory, with a constant influx of orders, it wasn’t always a walk in the park.

“I still encountered some struggles along the way like their orders not arriving on time or the packaging was mishandled by the courier but I guess those our inevitable and essential part of the business,” lamented Charisse. “All I can do is handle each situation the best way I know how, charge it to experience and learn from it moving forward.”

Encouraging through her own experience

Overcoming her struggles with motherhood has inspired her to encourage moms who find themselves in the same boat.

“The possibilities and tips are endless to increase milk supply from taking fenugreek, malunggay capsules, to eating lactation cookies and try doing power pumping,” she shares. “But beyond those, I want to let all moms know that no matter what your situation is, we strive to be the best mother we can ever be for our child. To moms who are dealing with low milk supply, don’t be afraid nor be ashamed. Embrace our differences and remember that, “some is better than none’.”

Beyond her personal experience as a mom, Charisse also hopes to inspire would-be mompreneurs to pursue their passion, even if you have little budget.

Her advice? Find your niche market. “From there you can develop your brand, study and understand the behavior of your potential customers. Ask yourself, as a mom, what do you need? And see if you can fill that gap in the market and turn it into a business afterwards,” she said.

“Even with limited budget you can still pursue your dream and become a mompreneur.”

Lactabites founder on her journey:

photo courtesy of Charisse Agulto

“Even with limited budget you can still pursue your dream and become a mompreneur. Because of social media, it’s now easier to introduce your brand/product to the market,” she continued. “You can also boost your posts in Facebook and IG at a minimal cost compared to doing traditional media. Lastly, continually educate yourself. Never stop learning because that’s the only way you can further push your business.”

For Charisse, it’s best to start small, work your way up, and surround yourself with positivity.

“Build a community and practice good customer service because I believe in the power of word of mouth,” she revealed. “You will reap its benefits after.”

Because of the success of Lactabites, Charisse found a new passion for baking! Soon, she was able to establish another venture through which, she hopes, she can share her newfound joy with other moms.

“Because of Lactabites, I found my true calling which is baking! Baking is my happy place,” she gushed. “When I bake, it’s as if I’m giving a part of my heart into it. And there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing their faces light up when they taste my baked goodies and hearing them say how they loved it.”

Starting with an heirloom banana bread recipe, Charisse founded Mama Panadera, at her own mom’s prodding and encouragement. Like her first brand, she launched her new venture through social media, baking banana bread, chocolate crinkles, and revel bars on a per order basis.

“You will notice, that both brands down to their names have a strong correlation to motherhood,” offered Cha. “I am in love and proud of being a mom. And with Mama Panadera, for every bite, I hope that it fills their heart and makes them think of home.”

For more about Lactabites, visit them on Facebook and Instagram. Mama Panadera also has a Facebook and Instagram page you can check out.

For orders, you can reach Charisse Agulto at 0917-591-7974 .

READ: Meet the Filipino mompreneurs who achieved success by empowering mothers

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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