The Story of Grateful Heart Enterprise by Jeric and Rhea Bermudez
As told to Rheyn Altoveros
My name is Jeric, and I am married to a lovely woman named Rhea. Together, we are running a business called Grateful Heart Enterprise, which supplies arts and crafts, decor, gifts, and handmade packaging to the local market. This is our story of finding financial breakthrough in the midst of the pandemic.
Jeric and Rhea with their children, Joshua, Kyle, and Chloe
In the 1980s, my wife’s family started a small business named Rhema J Handicraft. Their town, Paete, Laguna, is home to many skilled artisans. They are famous for their woodcarvings and papier-mâché horses or taka.
Rhema J Handicraft was known for making wooden fashion accessories, home decor, souvenir items, and Christmas items. These products, which were mostly made of wood, were exported through subcontracting. In the 1990s, they changed the business name to Cabrera Handicraft. Though their business was only situated at the terrace of their house, the business was booming. The family managed everything–from production to packaging–in that small space.
My wife and I got married in 1998. When the export market slowed down in the latter part of the 1990s, the business shifted to the local market. The family business name was changed to R. Cabrera’s Gifts & Collections, and my wife took charge of it. I was still working in the telecommunication and Information Technology (IT) industry during those times. With the help of our family, my wife was able to grow the business with three retail stores. We even joined numerous trade exhibitions through government initiatives.
Grateful Heart’s products on display at Manila FAME exhibit
Through the years, we experienced the highs and lows of doing business. We all knew business; it was a risk. For a time, we supplied handmade packaging to supermarkets, and the business was good. There were times when our sales would only be enough to support our workers. It was a seasonal kind of business, and Christmas was our only best time. However, we strived, and we never gave up. We always looked for ways to grow.
In 2012, I resigned from my IT work and did other jobs. Eventually, I joined my wife in running the family business in 2015. She managed the administration, finances, and production management, while I took charge of business and product development, as well as logistics. While doing all of these tasks, we were also raising our three beautiful children, Joshua, Kyle, and Chloe, and we were serving the Lord with our brethren in Destiny Ministries International.
In an attempt to rebrand and change the image of our business, we registered under the name Grateful Heart Enterprise in 2017. We started developing handmade wooden wall clocks and designing institutional logo and badge clocks for members of the organization.
Some of Grateful Heart’s existing products
Despite our efforts, we couldn’t deny the fact that sales were dwindling with time. Continuing to find revenue streams, we developed other products, such as tables and chairs for the little ones. We were also able to do direct export in 2019. However, it was not sustained due to the global pandemic in the following year. From exporting, we went to zero production and sales for nearly 3 months at the height of the strict community quarantine. It was during these times that we thought of closing the business. Who would want to buy home décor when there was a pandemic going on? Our products were not considered essential.
Knowing the importance of a trademark license, we set our sights in developing licensed school logo clocks prior to COVID-19. Before the second quarter of 2020 ended, a top university in the Philippines granted us a trademark license (which we applied for before pandemic). Suddenly, we had a good sales running in the middle of the pandemic.
With the help of our network of online sellers (mostly friends and church family), our company was able to bounce back! Our one-week order became equivalent to one month of orders during normal operation! Our children even helped our workers so we could keep up with orders. What was gratifying was that our effort was a social endeavor that helped our workers, handmade box suppliers, and sellers despite the challenging times.
Grateful Heart’s dedicated workers working on their logo clocks
Blessings for Our Workers
We remembered the stories of the people with us. One of our workers said that he was praying for financial breakthrough as we pursued the deal to work on the university clock. Our handmade box supplier later testified that our orders got them through the pandemic when there were no orders from other customers. A reseller shared that he was able to support his family, even redeeming the tricycle that was previously pawned due to financial needs. And for us, we were able to pay-off most of our debts and personal obligations.
The God Who Provides
Our recent success is a testament to the goodness of our God. In a time when priority in spending is towards essential items, especially food, we were able to sell a large number of wall clocks. The Lord taught us that business can still thrive even at a point when we think it’s impossible. His message is clear – He is the one who made all these things possible. Beyond the works of our hands, the Divine worked it out for His glory.
One of the key lessons we gained along the way is that we should not do business only for the sake of earning money. Success can be built around a community of people helping one another. Let us be a blessing to those around us.
As for us, Grateful Heart Enterprise will continue to believe in the artistry and creativity of our people, and we will support community-based workers and craftsmen. May the Heavenly Father bless us all!
About Jeric and Rhea Bermudez
General Manager, Grateful Heart Enterprise
A third-generation business owner, she is the daughter of the owners of R Cabrera’s Gifts & Collection (now Grateful Heart). Rhea took up a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology. After college, she spent 2 years in the food industry. In 1998, she was asked to handle their local handicraft business. Since then, she has been at the helm, being its general manager.
Business Development Manager, Grateful Heart Enterprise
An engineer by profession, he worked in the telecom & IT industry for many years. With the desire to learn entrepreneurship, Jeric joined his wife in 2015 to support the handicraft business. He is helping in the areas of business development, product development, and logistics.
The couple is married for 22 years and blessed with 3 children – Joshua, Kyle, and Chloe