This couple overcomes pandemic obstacles, saves their business, and keeps families happy at home.
It’s been 10 years since husband-and-wife and business partners Miguel and Ayesa Curbita met at work. Both fresh graduates, they joined the marketing department of SM Supermalls. “That was the first time I experienced the joy (and the stress) of putting up events. That’s where Mickey and I met. He was the marketing manager at SM Megamall while I was an officer at the Podium,” Ayesa reminisces.
Event management was one of the core things they both had to learn at work, with an almost-daily schedule of mall events being mounted left and right. After a few years, they both left the company, got married, and joined Ayesa’s family business. But they were looking for something they could call their own. “Given that both of our experiences, networks, and exposures were mostly in events, it was the logical decision to explore this industry even more,” says Miguel who realized that there was a great potential in hosting private parties. Their very first project was handling the birthday party of Ayesa’s six-year-old niece. She adds, “I knew her guests would be a bunch of six-year-olds turning seven-year-olds, so I made sure to sneak in my brand-new calling cards inside every loot bag and game prize. Looking back, it seems crazy that it took us two full months of planning when our team could handle around 50 to 60 birthday parties in a month—pre-quaratine period.” Over the years, their company, Madison Events, was able to grow their extensive and loyal clientele, including the children of Vicki Belo, Mariel Padilla Rodriguez, Andi Manzano Reyes, Kylie Padilla, Cheska Garcia Kramer, Camille Prats, Yasmine Kurdi, Denise Laurel, and Margie Moran.
Those were happy and steady times for the power couple, but like all of us, they were faced with a lot of road blocks when the pandemic hit our country. “Even before the lockdown, when we saw the number of cases slowly going up, we felt the need to inform our clients as soon as possible and give them the option to reschedule. Honestly, we didn’t think it would last this long but we knew that a pivot was imminent,” says Miguel.
Adapting to change
They remained hopeful in March, but they realized that everyone was in for the long ride with this new normal we are all in. April, which was supposed to be one of their busiest months, became a quiet month for them. Not one to just sit and go with the flow, they knew they had to do something to save their company and employees. “Having virtual parties was a no-brainer. It was the easiest, most logical adaptation for our business during the quarantine. We had launched our home party package called Pop! By Madison Events last year. In retrospect, it seems to be quite predictive given our present situation. We simply rebranded it and placed it under the umbrella campaign Home Celebrations,” explains Ayesa. These include the Pop Party Box, a home party kit with thematic decors and sweets such as cakes and other party favors, and Virtual Playdates, an engaging and interactive zoom video call on kiddie entertainment, such as singing, dancing, storytelling, games, and arts and crafts activities. They have over 50 themes and 100 characters to choose from.
Being parents to three-year-old Martina and one-year-old Penelope, Ayesa understood what parents are looking for. “I wanted to give my kids something productive and enjoyable to do at home. Being taken out of their usual routines, these kids needed something to look forward to every day,” she reveals. The Home Explorations Program is now part of their offerings with online classes on junior theater workshops, karatedo classes, ballet classes, gymnastics, and football. They also have Kits for Kids Ph, a subscription-based program that comes with educational videos and thematic arts and crafts activities. Ayesa adds, “These fun themes are used in our videos as vehicles for learning, which kids won’t even notice they’re already doing because it would all seem like play. We are banking on this approach because, for kids, play is indeed the brain’s favorite way of learning.”
With everything happening online now, Miguel admits to spending a little more in making sure their new programs run smoothly. This includes subscribing to faster and better internet connections and devices. “We invested heavily on new professional equipment like studio
lighting, DLSR cameras, microphones, speakers, and laptops to achieve the best quality broadcast of our digital entertainment,” he adds. Fortunately, adjusting to the work-from-home arrangement, where everything had to be done remotely, was a breeze, thanks to their dedicated and passionate team.
Though they are still going through uncertainty, Ayesa believes that this pandemic has brought out better, if not the best, versions of themselves. “There is an emerging industry of services to help us all adapt to this new normal. It is important to remember that we are not alone and together, our community is stronger,” she says.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
Being parents themselves, Miguel and Ayesa have road tested their products to ensure they offer the best services. Ayesa shares some tips here to make sure your children will enjoy their online parties and classes and also keep you stress-free.
1.Pique their interest without pressuring them. I do this very subtly by saying things like, “How cool would it be to practice singing with other kids, right?” or “I know you miss your old classmates in ballet, do you want to try an online class with new friends?” I’ve also noticed that a bunch of our enrollees are mommy friends who enrolled their kids together. This is a good way for them to let their kids “hang out” in this new normal.
2. No screen time before online activities.
Our online classes run for about 45 minutes. As much as possible, I take the electronics away from them for a few hours before the class starts so as not to strain their eyes. Amazingly, for my kid, when she wants to use the tablet, I would tell her “but you have ballet at 2 p.m., can you wait until then?” She would gladly oblige knowing that joining the class and seeing her friends later is so much better than using her gadgets alone.
3. Establish a routine.
Our online classes have different schedules, so I suggest that parents pick a class that works for their kids. I try to make sure that my kid’s done with her morning nap and lunch before she heads to class fully energized and excited. For toddlers who have unpredictable sleeping schedules, don’t pressure them to join the class because they’ll just be grumpy all through out. We record all our online classes, so we can send parents a recorded clip of the class they missed.
You may reach Madison Events at IG @madisoneventsinc and Facebook: Madison Events