DAGUPEÑA Amelia Manas has revolutionized the barbershop in urban Philippines.
And being a woman in a conventionally man’s domain has proven to be a plus point.
“Being a woman in a man’s world was never a hindrance. As a woman with a work force and clientele consisting of mostly men, the feminine factor can even prove to be an advantage. For one, women are intuitive and more particular about details. Experience also taught me that men soften up and are less prone to argue or express anger when dealing with a woman. Thus, issues are resolved faster,” Manas said in an interview with The PUNCH.
As an entrepreneur, Manas attributes her success in part to her mother, Generosa D. Manas, who instilled in her children the “value of self-reliance and the need to be financially independent”.
“Having a positive attitude is another factor. I did not allow my weaknesses to overcome me. The end of my marriage and the thought of having to single-handedly fend for my two children, as well as the need to prove my self-worth were the key factors that strengthened my entrepreneurial drive,” Manas readily shares.
The birth of Bruno’s Barbers in 1990 was actually prompted by one occasion of waiting for her son to get a haircut at a typical neighborhood barbero, a place that Manas found to be quite unappealing.
So she whipped in added comforts and services plus a more delightful ambience into the traditional barbershop concept and it has proven to be a hit.
Bruno’s Barbers now has 30 branches nationwide, of which 26 are owned by Manas’ Bruno’s Services Corporation (BSC) and four are franchises.
Manas was honored with the Malingcor Achievement Award in 2005 by Dagupan City in recognition of her entrepreneurial success and she also received four times – in 1988, 1999, 2009 and 2011 – the UP-PGH Medico-Socio Civic Award for her unfailing support to the Philippine General Hospital.
This year, Manas is among the finalists for the 2012 Entrepreneur Of The Year award, the winner of which will be announced on October 18 and will go on to represent the Philippines in the World Entrepreneur of the Year 2013.
The award – an initiative of SGV Foundation and supported by other private sector groups as well as the Department of Trade and Industry – recognizes entrepreneurs not just for their business success but for their contribution to society.
Alongside the expansion of Bruno’s Barbers, Manas also set up the BSC Technological Institute, a vocational school accredited by the Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA), where underprivileged students are given the opportunity to get free training and later on possible employment at one of Bruno’s shops.
“With BSCTI’s successful implementation of its hairdressing and barbering program, the company aims to offer other vocational courses that can be utilized beyond the confines of the organization,” Manas said.
As for the business, “The organization is in the midst of aggressively expanding two new brands, namely Fab Salon and BarberPlus. The company’s newly-launched grooming and styling product line, Bruno Lab, is being targeted for wider distribution,” she said.
“International expansion in Southeast Asia and The Middle East is also on the drawing board,” she added.
In the local front, Manas said more investments, especially small- and medium- sized enterprises, would trickle in if local government units introduced more “business-supportive policies.”
“Local government leaders should also be made to understand that they are economic and development managers and that their roles are not just mere providers of public goods and services,” Manas said.
Manas’ hands are certainly full, as packed as her heart is of her fond childhood memories of Dagupan.
“…Summer vacations riding our bicycles, catching tadpoles with my siblings and playmates in Di-Or Village, and early morning walks to Sanitary Bakery to buy freshly baked pan de sal,” said this 1975 high school graduate of the Divine Word Academy of Dagupan
“As a mother, I take pleasure in seeing my children look forward to their trips to Dagupan where they have fond memories of their grandfather (the late Antonio S. Manas, Sr.) taking them fishing and cruising in Dawel River, and letting them swim in the muddy fishpond in the midst of a bangus harvest. (And) a trip to Dagupan is never complete without my mother preparing a hearty breakfast of Alaminos longganiza and hot chocolate served with Calasiao puto and fried suman and a late-night drive to the plaza to eat ‘PNB bibingka’,” she narrates.—Marifi Jara