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Furniture makers find gold mine in Xmas lights venture

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva December 10,2017 - 09:42 PM

Santa Claus on a sleigh and angels with trumpets are among the designs Katherine Asis and her husband Dennis put on display outside their furniture store along Gorordo Avenue from November until the end of the year.

As soon as the sun is out of sight and streaks of purple begin to paint the early evening sky, colorful moving lights illuminate the façade of a small rattan furniture workshop along Gorordo Avenue in Cebu City, surely catching the attention of passersby within its vicinity.

The lights, as if alive in the way they flash hues of red, green, yellow, and blue, take the shape of familiar Christmas images — an angel, a star, the famous man in a red suit, Santa Claus, on a sleigh being pulled by his reindeer.

Right after All Souls’ Day in November each year, Katherine Asis and her husband Dennis begin displaying these pieces of craftsmanship outside their family’s humble furniture workshop in time for the yuletide season.

While they work on their long-time furniture business in the morning, the lights are tucked away inside the workshop for safekeeping and aren’t brought outside until nighttime, when their true beauty can be fully appreciated.

Katherine shared that they learned to create these outdoor Christmas decorations from her uncle, the late Zosimo Deniay Jr., who was the brainchild of the business adopted by several members of their family.

“My late uncle, who was very artistic, received an order in 2001 for Christmas lights in the shape of a bell. He made one and realized there were many other designs he can explore. Then he tried making one, shaped like Santa Claus. He started with non-moving lights and eventually learned how to make the lights move,” Katherine, the 41-year-old entrepreneur, said.

The family’s rattan furniture export business had been their main source of income for the past 60 years but then they had to look into alternative businesses after slowdown in the global market prompted them to shift their focus on the local market. Fortunately, they discovered a gold mine in making these customized outdoor lights.

P5K capital

In 2006, Katherine decided to start their own production with her husband in-charge of welding while she did sales work.

With a capital of P5,000 pooled from their own savings, the couple was able to jump-start their venture with four designs that were sold out fast, making them earn twice than what they initially spent for materials.

The display runs from November until the end of the year or until their designs are sold out.

“We started with ordinary series lights, but saw we had a problem. Whenever it rains, the bulbs have a tendency to go out and it makes the whole design look bad,” Katherine said.

First big order

It was in 2011, when they received a big order from a mall in Mandaue City, that they decided to use industrial hose to protect the lights from the elements.

Because not many were using the same material then, Katherine said their upgraded outdoor lights were a hit among customers.

On average, the family has been producing 20 designs each year since 2006, each one sold between P3,000 to P3,800, depending on size. The Santa Claus and star designs are their best-sellers.

The businesswoman said that the simplest design takes one day to make while the more complicated ones take two weeks at most.

Katherine said they have produced for local hotels and restaurants as well. Even when it isn’t Christmas season, she said they also design flashing signs for schools and other establishments.

Furniture business

Amid the slowdown of the export market and the high prices of rattan, she said their outdoor lights venture has helped make ends meet for their family.

Having been started by her grandfather, Katherine said their furniture business is something she is quite grateful for as it helped send her and her siblings to private high schools.

Carrying an associate computer secretarial degree, Katherine worked for several companies for more than five years before deciding to focus on their family-owned business.

Their outdoor lights business has helped her send her four kids, ages eight to 16 years old, to a private school in Cebu City as well as secure property rights for a lot in Barangay Kamputhaw on which they had built their own house.

“This business has really helped us a lot. It helps provide for our needs and still allows us to save for the things that really matter,” said Katherine.

Taking care of clients

In all the years she has been running their business, she said the most important lesson she learned is to put her heart in everything that she does so her customers will be loyal.

She said she makes sure to offer after-sales services and reasonable prices to her valued clients, some of which have been patronizing her business for many years.

Katherine said they will strive to create better designs next year to attract more customers.

“I hope they will continue to buy our outdoor lights each year and that we will never run out of customers,” she added.

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TAGS: Find, furniture, gold, makers, mine

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