In this new series, Lifestyle Asia speaks with individuals who were bit with the food business bug during the early days of Enhanced Community Quarantine and how their passions led them to cooking, baking and selling in the middle of a pandemic.
Liana Lopez learned to cook for herself as an undergraduate in Boston. She shares that her passion was always with creating smoothie and acai bowls. “I enjoyed creating smoothie bowls for my own personal consumption and playing around with different textures, shapes & colors. I started making smoothie bowls in middle school and decided that I wanted to turn Lilo’s Acai into a passion project,” she says.
When lockdown was declared, Liana decided now was the time to strike, and started testing and experimenting with flavors to figure out what she wanted to make. “I wanted to capitalize on the increased demand for delivery services and a shift in consumer preferences for healthier food alternatives,” she says, “although the Philippines has many great tasting local restaurants, the country still has limited options for healthy eating.” Knowing that healthy eating might take a backseat, it was a providential decision.
Initially, Liana says her family was hesitant. They wanted her to focus on her studies and finish her last semester of senior year (which had been cut short due to the pandemic and moved to online instruction). “However, when they saw that I was serious and committed to starting my own business, they were extremely supportive,” she says, “both my family and friends are excited and happy for me and I am so thankful to have their support.”
Because Liana’s product relies on fruits and a delivery system that won’t decrease its freshness, she mentions that initially it was difficult to sort out logistics, calculate operation costs and find steady suppliers during the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Through experimenting and putting in the research, she was able to create a functional business model. “Social media, especially Instagram, has been an invaluable tool to help me market my bowls and share them with others,” she says.
When the customers of Lilo’s Acai taste her creations, she wants them to feel that they are not compromising health for taste. “They can find healthy products that are rich in antioxidants & boost energy levels, while still consuming tasty and refreshing products,” she says. Acai bowls are heavy on presentation, and Liana’s are no different. “I hope that the thought and effort I put into creating Lilo’s Acai bowls, from the combination of texture, colors, flavors & shapes, translate to the taste and presentation of the products,” says.
Creating a fledging business without much background and knowledge of the food industry was challenging for Liana, but she says that when life returns to normalcy (whatever that now means), she wants to continue Lilo’ Acai. “I have learned so much over the past two months and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to build a start-up smoothie bowl business on my own,” she says, “I would like to continue Lilo’s Acai in the hopes of providing Filipinos with healthier food alternatives and high-quality fruit bowls. I am excited for what’s in store for Lilo’s Acai in the future!”
For the full menu orders, please contact @lilosacai on Instagram