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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NATURAL Metaphors Body Products is a manufacturer of natural and enzyme-based soaps that are proven effective in exfoliating, moisturizing and rejuvenating the skin. Run by a family owned enterprise with Melody Ayupan, the daughter, as proprietor, researcher and production manager; Lorna Jane Ayupan, the mother, as operations and sales manager; and Robinson Ayupan, the father, as the market researcher and developer.

The business started in Santiago, Isabela where the family was based in 2003. Rice bran and coconut oil were the basic ingredients of the first soap manufactured. Guided by a chemist relative, Melody at a young age of fifteen with no formal training in chemistry used kitchen pots and ladles to mix the ingredients with a small wooden box as mould. At the start, the soap was intended for family use only considering that Melody was also having allergic reactions to the common soaps in the market. Sometimes, when the mood overcomes Melody, she doubles the recipe to include gifts to friends and relatives. To her surprise, those who tried the soap returned to order additional pieces for their use and to give as gifts or pasalubongs to friends and family.

In 2007, the family moved to La Trinidad, Benguet and repeated their success with the soap making business. New found friends who tried the products were impressed and became regular customers. Natural Metaphors Body Products was registered with DTI-Benguet on the same year. With the assistance of the local DTI office and the La Trinidad LGU, the home made soaps were exhibited in different local trade fairs. As a result of these product exposures, orders have increased far beyond the family’s expectation. They had to rent a small soap making facility in the lowlands and hire contractual workers to accommodate the orders. Eventually, a minimum of 300 pieces of soap (150 gms) are being ordered monthly.


With research and assistance from professional friends, the family ventured into processing other soaps such as gluthatione, collagen, salad bar, goat milk, oatmeal and strawberry soaps. Metaphors strawberry soap and Metaphors strawberry feminine wash are the centerpiece productions of the business, inspired by the ONE TOWN ONE PRODUCT of La Trinidad, Benguet which is strawberry.

From an initial capital of P10,000, the family had to avail of additional working capital from the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation. A rich benefactor sympathetic to their cause added in a sizable amount to jumpstart volume production. The funds were used to build a small soap making laboratory at their La Trinidad home. Additional financing from the Local Government of La Trinidad and technical assistance from DOST Set-up program further boosted the production and marketing capability of the firm. The business maintains a product outlet at the Old Market Building in Km. 5, La Trinidad, Benguet.

Ms. Lorna Ayupan has been very active in pushing the products during trade fairs and various exhibits like Panagbenga, Impakabsat, Adivay, Lang-ay and Strawberry Festival. Their first trade fair experiences were unforgettable as she described the waves of people who came to their booths to buy their products from early morning to closing time. These developments inspired the family to improve their products even more. They availed of product development workshops to explore labeling and packaging possibilities that will further boost appearance of the products. They have been active in attending various government livelihood fora and seminars. On various occasions, they were invited to share their success story on TV, print and other media. These media coverage have enhanced sales of Metaphors tremendously. The firm employs the direct selling approach to their products, with word of mouth as best advertising.

Putting aside the boundless energies of the family in promoting their product, the products’ other appeal lie in the use of natural and organic ingredients. These products provide an excellent alternative to people who want to go back to the basics. What also personifies the business enterprise is the teamwork of the family members, with the daughter and father focusing on the research and production side, this leaves the mother, Lorna, with her genial personality in the forefront of the business operations. To cap their achievement as a family, Melody was selected as one of the Go Negosyo Ten Most Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs in 2009, one among the ten national awardees. They were feted in a highly publicized national affair where she brought home a Nokia Special Award and BPI Family Bank Award.

Today, the company has a minimum production of 2,000 pieces a month. It manufactures nearly 12 soap variants including the top sellers strawberry soap and charcoal soap. It has 13 people under its direct employ plus a contingent of satisfied customers, individuals, students, dealers and institutions distributing the products down the line and earning a regular income from the activity. The company has its own shares of struggles but their quest for healthy and effective products will not be deterred.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 24, 2011.


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