Going out on your own, away from your standard 9-5 job and all the stability that goes along with that, can be daunting. But when we find stories like these, we’re doubly inspired! Kym and Mark, creators of Herro Hachi, a quirky t-shirt company that takes inspiration from Asian culture and their experiences, did just this, and now get to run their own company full time. Here they share their story and some helpful small business advice.
Name: Kym and Mark Tantongco
City: Vancouver, BC
Store Owners Since: 2009
Opened on Storenvy: 2014
What is your favorite vacation destination? California. Our relatives live there, it rarely rains, and they have churros.
How did you handle the change from full time work to running an independent business?
In the beginning, we embraced our newfound freedom (from the 9-5 world) a little too much but soon realized that we were now responsible for managing our own time, making sure we had structure, and making sure we didn’t get distracted by T.V and other things at home.
Which area of running a business required the most learning?
The numbers! When we were both still working full time, crunching numbers wasn’t our focus but now that we’re doing this full time, we very quickly realized how important it is to know the numbers – how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on, how much each item costs to make, how much profit are you making on each item, etc, etc. Tax time drove us nuts because we had no choice BUT to get organized and look at the numbers! Our advice: make sure you have a good program (like QuickBooks) where you can easily enter your numbers and it will do the “crunching” for you. And if you can, hire an accountant.
What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had as a business owner?
Part of our sales goes back to our home country, the Philippines, to help a non-profit organization called Gentle Hands. They’re in the business of rescuing abandoned, malnourished, and abused kids from the streets of Manila. A few years ago, we had the opportunity to actually see the kids staying at Gentle Hands and see how donations from around the world help them with their day to day operations. It was a great reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we chose to give back!
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced running Herro Hachi? What have you learned from this?
The greatest challenge we’ve faced running Herro Hachi is preparing for expansion. Expansion often requires a lot of different resources (read: money) and a trustworthy support team. We’ve learned that having guidance from a mentor or a coach is key, especially if you don’t have previous experience running a business! We’ve also learned that patience is important – many doors will shut and sometimes you’re waiting months and months for a door to open, but often times it’s worth the wait!
What advice would you offer other small business owners looking to transition to pursuing their passions full time?
Pursuing your passion full time is a roller coaster ride! Celebrate the ups, but be prepared for the downs too. Make sure you’ve got a business plan ready so you have a clear idea of where you want to go and how you will get there. Lastly, don’t give up. It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come when times get tough so always think about the why and the what – why you started and what you are doing this for.
Read more about Herro Hachi and shop the store here.