A 22-year-old entrepreneur’s passion for traveling has led her to not only discover the world, but has also given her opportunities to venture into a lucrative business.
Johanna Christi “JC” Calimbas, owner of Cebu-based online travel essentials store The Passport Case, said she saw a huge potential in selling passport cases because more people want to travel these days.
“Especially the millennial generation, they are into traveling and taking photos. Before boarding their flights, people usually take photos of their passports and boarding passes,” Calimbas told Cebu Daily News.
She said that fares are more affordable now, so more people can travel abroad.
Two decades ago, tickets to other Asian countries would cost P15,000 to P20,000, but Filipinos can get them for as low as P4,000 today or even cheaper, depending on promo offerings.
In 2015, Filipinos made at least 5.1 million international departures, growing by 5.9 percent from the previous year, a survey by travel website Workalife showed.
The Passport Case is as straightforward as its name, selling customized passport cases made of imported synthetic leather.
For P350, one can have a passport case with their name on it as well as one free logo. Additional logos cost P50 each.
The young businesswoman realized that passport cases were such a hit among her peers when, during a trip to Singapore last year, her friends kept asking her where she got her passport case after she posted a photo of it on her Instagram account.
On her next trip in September, she decided to buy passport cases for her friends and sell it to them when she got back to Cebu.
She spent at least P20,000, using her own pocket money as well as her fiancé Eric’s, to accommodate all of her friends’ orders during that time.
Calimbas made P25,000 from that batch and has since sold thousands of passport cases since the brand was launched in November 2016.
Monthly orders, sales
Today, they distribute 500 to 600 orders each month to clients not only based in Cebu but also in Manila, generating sales between P60,000 to P100,000.
The Passport Case also started selling customized luggage tags and three-in-one passport wallets, but Calimbas said they continue to be aggressive with the regular passport holders since they want it to be known as truly Cebu-based.
In May this year, they stopped buying made-to-order cases from abroad and started assembling their own products in her sister Nina’s house in Talamban, Cebu City.
Many interested Filipino buyers from Canada and Denmark, among others, have also expressed interest to resell The Passport Case products in their respective countries.
Calimbas, a graduate of airline management at the Mactan-based Indiana Aerospace University, quit her job at an outsourcing firm because she was earning more as an entrepreneur than she was as a worker.
She had shown entrepreneurial promise even when she was little, having turned rejected bananas from her mother’s fruit haul into salads and selling them to her neighbors.
This venture was a way for her to marry her love for traveling and business, she said.
She recalled that when she was young, she would throw tantrums when out-of-town escapades with her family would get canceled and that she would become envious when her high school classmates would talk about trips to the beach.
Calimbas started traveling within the Philippines when she was 19, visiting every major destination in the country. It was only last year that she went on her first international trip, visiting nine countries in less than 12 months.
She has been to Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
“It was in college that I realized I wanted to turn this into a career,” said Calimbas.
But after several failed attempts at joining airline companies in the last couple of months, she decided to take the path of business and use her earnings to fund her travels across the world.
Even with the rapid growth of her business, Calimbas said she does not intend to put up a physical store because having an online presence allows her to still travel.