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Mary Grace Project

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2: Mary Grace Dimacali LIVING WHAT SHE LOVES DOING | As a child, Mary Grace Dimacali was always thrilled to watch dough expand with a life of its own. Baking! That’s her first-love. And she carried this fascination into motherhood when she became a full-time homemaker at the age of 22. This manifesto aims to provide a glimpse of her life and how she transitioned from being a mom who baked goodies for her children every 4 p.m. into a full-fledged and successful entrepreneur. Happy Reading!

3: Mary Grace and her family | Chiara, eldest child, helping to bake (1990s)

4: Mary Grace never stopped sharing her passion for baking at her home. She started baking fruitcakes for her neighbors every Christmas Season. Stories of her famous fruitcake and baked goodies spread in and out of her village. She also sold her perfectly baked treats at holiday bazaars due to insistent demand from mothers who only want the best for their children. She started selling at Intercon Hotel (Makati), then at Dusit Hotel, then at countless other food fairs all over Metro Manila.

5: At the age of 30, Mary Grace followed her heart’s desire and off she went to the US for a hands-on course on baking. She plunged her hands into huge bowls of rye and sourdough bread and after months of training, came home to harness all she had learned to perfect her own formula for a local delicacy, an “ensaymada” with just the right texture and flavor.

7: Biggest misconception: That being an entrepreneur is stressful and risky. I don’t think it’s any more difficult than doing something you don’t like. Top source of inspiration: Customers and employees | “I wanted people to be the ones queuing for my product. I want to come out and stop being the best-kept secret during Christmas Holidays,” she said. When asked if that attitude can be attributed to her being an in-born “go-getter or achiever”, she answered with a nod and a smile. To this day, Mary Grace has been delighting customers with her trade-mark ensaymada with its consistent quality and just-baked-freshness. Nothing artificial, just honest-to-goodness premium ingredients.

8: “Our ensaymada is [really] our flagship product,” said Mary Grace. “It’s an honest ensaymada, so to speak, with no preservatives, no added food coloring and really fresh-baked daily.” Mary Grace ensaymada are topped with queso de bola. The ingredients are sourced locally except for the queso de bola. Mary Grace uses all-natural ingredients. “They (ensaymada) will keep for a long time as long as you keep them in the fridge,” she said. Café Mary Grace also offers pasta, salads and sandwiches. All Mary Grace baked items are based on Dimacali’s own recipes.

9: Aside from her passion for baking, Mary Grace geared up for the business world. At 44, she finished her Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship at AIM where she learned to prepare a five-year strategic plan for her business venture. She is proud that she was able to achieve that feat on top of her other roles as a homemaker and a community volunteer.

11: CERTIFIED MOMPRENEUR | An entrepreneur at heart, Mary Grace pursued higher learning and finished her master’s degree in Entrepreneurship at the Asian Institute of Management, which inspired her to take Mary Grace Foods to greater heights. In 2001, she opened her first kiosk in Glorietta 4 and by 2006, she welcomed her customers to the very first Mary Grace Café at Serendra. Today, Mary Grace Foods already has seven cafes and ten kiosks all over Metro Manila. Their eighth and biggest café, so far, is set to open at Greenbelt 2 this coming March 2011. She fondly calls her strategy—“hurry up slowly”.

13: Partnership with Family | When asked who in her life has influenced her business venture the most, Mary Grace credits her husband, Hector Dimacali. He’s been in semiconductor quality segment who puts high standards for her to attain for all her products. Hector, who is currently the President of First Philippine Industrial Park, is Mary Grace’s trusted business advisor. But the big help came when her children graduated from college one-by-one (all from Ateneo de Manila University) and started working full-time to expand and diversify her business operations. Gabby, her 3rd child, came in 2005. During that time, Mary Grace only had 6-7 kiosks. Gabby took on the Marketing, Business Development, and Commissary Relations functions. It was during the first two years of Gabby when they ventured into their first café format in Serendra (their big break). Adrian, her 2nd child, was already working for about two years in one of the prestigious law firms in Metro Manila. But in 2008, he also resigned from his cushy job to take on the family business’ Human Resources Management, Legal, Finance and Tax functions. Raffy, the 4th child and formerly a banker, came in 2009 to take care of Financial Auditing, Banking and Cash Management functions, while her 5th and youngest child, Marian has also involved herself in the business in 2010 by managing Kiosks and Commissary Operations. Marian took up Humanities in college and is also nurturing her budding career as a theater actress. When asked about the pros and cons of having practically the whole family in the business, Gabby thoughtfully enumerated the considerations. “There is a difficulty,” he said, “in maintaining a perfectly professional relationship at work especially with the top boss who happens to be our mom also. This, at times, breeds a relaxed atmosphere that causes deadlines to get pushed behind agreed schedule.” But he also added, “On the positive side, there is an assurance of long-term unity since the whole family is there for the business for the long-run, and it’s easier to cope with setbacks and there’s more room for creativity since everyone can be more emotionally open and very candid with their ideas.”

14: Core Values: Ora et Labora | Mary Grace’s advice to those who want to start their own business is to strike a balance in all aspects of life. Despite her busy schedule, Mary Grace, a Marian devotee, does not forget to give thanks and to give back for all her blessings by encouraging others to pray the Holy Rosary and by leading the improvement of their community. As a recepient of Neophyte Entreprenuer Award in 2010, she envisions the second wave of starting up Mary Grace Cafes in prominent malls such as Rockwell, Glorietta, Shangri-la and Greenhills or even in Metro Cebu. However, Mary Grace is not yet opening up the business to franchise since she still wants full control over the business at this growth phase.

15: Biggest Strengths: Perseverance, Patience, Prayer, Persistence Biggest plus of ownership: The privilege of employing other people (providing jobs) | She graduated AB Psychology (Magna Cum Laude) at St. Scholastica's College

17: MBA Regis Entrepreneurship Class February 22, 2011 | TSENTREP | Entrepreneurship Profile | Prepared by: Leah Buenaflor Nino Llorente Rona Marcellano Orlan Nugpo Jennie Viola Anne Raneses

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