There are those who strive for entrepreneurial prowess, and there are those like I-FERN CEO Tommanny Tan who were simply born with it
As I-FERN earns the hearts and minds of people all around the world for its affordable, high-quality supplements, as well as its inclusive and innovative business strategies, we take a stroll with I-FERN CEO Tommanny Tan as he discusses the details behind his greatest triumphs, as well as the trials and tribulations that come with building a vast health supplement empire; one that Tan describes is actually making millionaires out of those who seek to strive under it.
Like most of the gifted few who have climbed the proverbial Mount Olympus to etch their name in the pantheon of great Chinese-Filipino businessmen, I-FERN CEO Tommanny Tan traces his first memories of learning about business and entrepreneurship as a child; listening to the lengthy discussions had between his parents and grandparents in the dining room as they sat together for lunchtime.
While Chinese-Filipino families traditionally favor their Chinese sensibilities more than their Filipino side, there are those who wish to vanquish that stigma. One of them is Tommanny himself, who shares that such an identity crisis is something he wants to solve for his ancestry. He declares that: “People always say, you know, Chinese [means] intsik, but if you ask me, I’m Filipino cause I’m a second-generation [living in the Philippines]. All my kids are [also] born in the Philippines.”
It seems that such a dynamic shift from deeply-traditional thinking has translated into the young businessman’s mindset as he grew up, earning his accolades academically and maintaining the successes of the original family business in the importation and flat-iron manufacturing industry.
Making his own wave
After fulfilling his duties as the son of two decorated business owners, Tan decided to finally make a name for himself by becoming the entrepreneur that he and his ancestry ought himself to be. Such a quest led him to co-founding his first enterprise, FERN Incorporated, a company that developed and birthed the popular FERN-C product line; the first ever non-acidic vitamin C product from the Philippines.
Despite powering FERN-C’s brand name in the market and taking the number one spot in the entire vitamin trade despite the gargantuan names of his competitors, Tan reflected upon his successes and thought: is a winning household name simply enough? Make no mistake, FERN-C was in fact succeeding, according to Tan. The devil however, simply could be found in the details, as the young CEO and his team noticed that despite the stellar sales numbers, the company could not rack up its own revenue entirely, as the drug stores that distributed FERN’s products took hold of roughly 70% of it. It was through this discovery that the young entrepreneur and his team decided to go back to the drawing board and come up with a bright solution that would allow FERN to enjoy all of the profits it could supposedly make, while still maintaining the run brought by FERN-C’s success. Tan and his team wanted the slice of the pie that they deservedly earned, and they wanted it whole, which led to the founding of another company in I-FERN.
Networking is not a foreign word to Filipinos, and it is certainly not a word met with fondness to many who have been misled by unscrupulous entities. Without hesitance, Tan quickly distinguished the strategies that his company employs from the notorious pyramid schemes that have run amok throughout the country, explaining the key differences that make I-FERN’s unique direct-selling strategy successful, and more importantly ethical.
Tan first points out that none of I-FERN’s now-extensive product lines are overpriced, allowing all direct salesmen under the umbrella of I-FERN—who range from the young to the elderly—to do business without having to break the bank in paying for their next package. Couple this low price with the fact that I-FERN’s products—from a versatile vitamin that promotes immunity strength and health-boosting all-in-one in FERN-D, to the Filipino-tailored FERN-ACTIV—all enjoy a sterling reputation both in its natural, award-winning high quality, as well as the adamant promotion of vitamin consumption by the DOH, the WHO, and the FDA itself, and you have a battle-tested product that is affordable and world-class. These are the two primary ingredients that Tan has learned early in his career as the key to any entrepreneurial success.
Despite his success in the industry, the CEO explained that society’s perceptions towards vitamins was once a difficult stigma to shake off, apart from the notoriety indirectly brought in with direct selling. Once viewed as a supplementary product for children, Tan now shares that a majority of Filipinos view their product and vitamins in general to be essential to daily living, as people now realize the value of strengthening and reinforcing their immune systems with the untimely onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The important thing is, your body does not stop needing vitamins. When you were a kid, your parents gave them to you, but when you become older, your parents got to busy or you stop going to the [pediatrician], you don’t take it [anymore], so now we are just telling you: ‘you need to take it again’, because you want to be healthy.”
I-FERN CEO Tommanny Tan on the importance of vitamins
What’s next for I-FERN
Upon entertaining the promise of I-FERN’s future, Tan pointed out the importance of continuously expanding the brand’s product line with innovative products that follow the same formula of affordable pricing and world-class quality. As of today, I-FERN boasts four unique offerings that could be availed either online or through a direct seller. Apart from the FERN-named product lines, the company also takes pride in its two brand-new health products, each with its own unique benefits and purposes.
MilkCa is a bone supplement derived from the calcium and minerals sourced from milk, a distinction Tan declares makes MilkCa easier absorbed by the human body, compared to the supplements that use subpar components such as calcium carbonate. On the other end of the spectrum, I-FERN also boasts its very own anti-aging soap with the Aurora Beauty Bar. Formulated only from natural elements such as Argan Oil, Swiss Apple Stem-Cell, and Aloe Vera, the Aurora Beauty Bar rejuvenates and nourishes the skin by keeping it naturally hydrated and diminishing pesky abnormalities such as hyperpigmentation, age spots, wrinkles, acne, and melasma.
As each of these world-class products bring prosperity to not only the company or its sellers, but also the clientele who enjoy their benefits, Tan has now made it a mission to extend his wealth-bringing powers to those who are less fortunate. Tan adds that in spite of the difficulties brought upon by the ongoing health crisis—a pandemic which inadvertently halted the company’s initial plans of opening an office in Singapore—the business leader found it essential for the entire company to give back to those who are less fortunate. Tan shares that he and his wife were able to open up a community pantry with the company during the worst times of the lockdown in Taytay, Rizal to provide essential goods to impoverished communities.
Despite such a thriving company with multiple locally-established brands, Tan believes that his vision for I-FERN has only begun manifesting, and will not stop until the big picture has been painted. The CEO shares that I-FERN’s grasp in the local market is far from being fully realized, as he yearns of one day servicing the health of the millions of Filipinos all around the country and the world, including those living in the far-flung areas. Beyond this, Tan shares his ultimate dream for I-FERN to be of global proportions; a dream that has actually started to take shape in I-FERN’s expansion to Africa.
There are many grand takeaways that one can take from learning about the story of the charming Tommanny Tan. Perhaps, it could be the joy felt from his disarming charisma. Perhaps, it could be inspiration wielded from his entrepreneurial ability. The biggest bounty however, arises from the jovial business leader’s one-of-a-kind ability of believing in himself, his roots, and the people he surrounds himself with. The man’s decision to identify himself as a Filipino rather than Chinese alone speaks volumes of his powerful convictions, so it’s no surprise that he can raise an entire empire from scratch.