Lifestyle, Stories, Taoke (Business)

Modern Tao Ke: 6 Tips When Doing Business with Your Howe

It’s the season of love! And despite some challenges, a young Chinoy couple, Danielle Shannelle Tan and Enzo Mananquil Samson, have found a way to make their love and their online business Birkin’s Bakes & Cakes blossom.

Tan believes that the pandemic itself has opened and continues to open opportunities for everybody, just as it did when she got the chance to work alongside her boyfriend and stay productive by building a business that is practically pandemic-proof.

They started their online food business in September 2020, and it has become a success despite the pandemic, thanks to the steady orders from their customers.

“The story behind Birkin’s Bakes & Cakes came from the opportunity to turn stagnancy in quarantine into profitability,” shared Tan and Samson. “Since school and life slowed down, we took this as a chance and challenge to open a business to keep the economy going. We are named Birkin’s Bakes & Cakes because of our lovable Persian Orange tabby cat, Birkin. This business is just the first step to opening our restaurant and if time and money wills it, even a separate bakery!”

“The food and beverage industry is an enabler in making the economy move so our business helps our country economically,” said Tan.

But with all the success that they have achieved so far, they continue to stay grounded and celebrate their foundation as childhood sweethearts that want nothing more but a stable future for themselves.

Tan and Samson share some tips for other couples who have businesses together:


1. Let the business strengthen your relationship.

“Based on our experience, we have had the opportunity to build our name based on the simplicity of our carefully curated treats,” shared Tan. “We both contribute ideas to our recipes and respect each other’s opinions as business partners. We do test runs in the kitchen and sometimes disagree, but at the end of the day, we still respect each other’s individual skills and talents.”

“Starting a business allows us to foster a stronger relationship as we are both professional yet romantic in nature. Being with someone who shares the same passions as you do is, truthfully, the best form of validation and love anyone can receive. There’s a saying that love should be simple if it’s with the right one and that’s what we feel towards each other and to our humble business.”


Birkin, the couple’s cat and the reason behind the business name.


2. Turn passion into profit.

As young as they both are, their mindset has been geared towards making their business ready for the future. “The reason we started our business was that Enzo and I were growing old enough to stop asking for allowances from our parents,” said Tan. “The way in which we thought we could sustain ourselves was to turn our passion into profit.”

“Quite honestly, that has worked so far, so good, but it honestly made Shannelle more of a cheapskate,” said Samson. “Since we were kids, we always talked about marrying each other, but in this day and age, being financially stable is easier said than done.”


3. Spend quality time together even it’s for the business.

“Meeting up with potential suppliers turns into dates because the car rides in and out of the city, meals in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee dates together, which then celebrates our unity as a couple and as business partners,” the two lovebirds shared.

They also emphasized the importance of sourcing as many suppliers as possible. They learned this the hard way after an incident where their original supplier failed to deliver on time. Nonetheless, the process of looking for potential suppliers has given them the opportunity to spend quality time together.


4. Be patient with one another.

“Having patience with one another allows you to truly see your compatibility as life partners. Dreams can’t happen overnight, so it is vital to be resilient throughout your entire journey. The money will come eventually, and you just have to keep doing what you do best to improve individually and together.

“This experience is something we are still undergoing and it is comforting to know that we learn new things about the world and each other every day. We have had sleepless nights trying to finish orders, but we still see it through and strive for results that ultimately lead to the fulfillment of our purpose.

“All in all, having a patient partner paves the way for the success of our business and the growth of our relationship. There are times when we’ve had minor errors, such as overcooking food, deflated dough, or even packaging mistakes. Even so, we still strive for high-quality food handmade with love.”



5. Keep the business and relationship separate but with equal importance.

Be sure to keep things professional when working with your significant other in a business. It all boils down to how you maintain a good balance between personal and professional life.

Sometimes they find it hard to keep their relationship and business separate since they make recipes “with their love for one another,” and they have known each other since 2005. Yet, both Tan and Samson encourage each other to maintain boundaries between their business and professional lives while still inspiring each other every step of the way.

“Despite our differences, we don’t let our personal feelings get in the way of making decisions, especially when it comes to accounting, marketing, and other practical decisions involving Birkin’s Bakes & Cakes,” they both shared. “In our perspective, our business and personal lives aren’t something we can definitively draw a line on because these two aspects are essential to our identity and connection.

“We continuously try to push and motivate each other even if sometimes we have our tampuans. After experiencing days that feel longer than it should, what keeps us going is the mentality that we are one step towards our future together. With that type of mindset, no setback is enough to discourage us.”


6. Grow together.

“Our experience as young aspiring chefs started at around 5-8 years old. Since we’re childhood sweethearts, we already had the idea that cooking was something we wanted to include in our life,” they shared. “Since we know that we have a passion for culinary, we are slowly enhancing and developing our talents to take the opportunity to make a profit and turn our dreams into reality. Being able to share our passion with each other is a unique act of love we share with one another.”

As young as they are, they encourage the youth to make sure that their business is something they genuinely love doing, most especially if it’s something that they enjoy with their howe.

“We believe that the money and success you reap after will be so much more meaningful to both of you once you get through all the hardships with passion and grit. It is not only about the speed at which you reach milestones but the process by which you learn to live and grow. The hard and painful work that may come along the way will feel all the more rewarding when you both focus your mind, body, and spirit. Your work and business will be the thing that keeps you going because you’ll be keen to improve more each day.”

“Every day is just a reminder that we want to reach our dreams together and grow individually. Our main goal is to have the financial security that will sustain our dreams of establishing a bigger business, buying our own home, getting married, and having our own family. We aim to create a stepping stone in which we are able to achieve our dreams by being practical and realistic. Who said love and business were impossible?”


Looking for more business advice? Check out our Modern Tao Ke articles with more valuable tips from prominent businessmen like Cesar Wee and George Siy and tips for “parentrepreuners,” young entrepreneurs, and more.

Leave a Reply