How siblings Michelle and Yan Calupitan, a single mother with four kids and her younger sister, are teaching other women how to be their own boss
Sisters Michelle and Yan Calupitan have always loved two things: massages and foreign travel. They always made it a point to visit the best spas in the most luxurious hotels in every foreign city they visited. In June 2019, they decided to start up a wellness business—their first venture as a team of siblings—by creating the branding and the website and doing the initial hiring and training with capital taken from their savings.
Today, Beyond Massage has more than 50 people on staff, and business is brisk, boosted in no small part by celebrity influencers. “We really worked hard for it!” says younger sister Yan, who was a student pursuing a masteral degree in psychology at De La Salle University at the time of the startup. “Most of the time, showbiz celebrities are the ones reaching out to try our massage service. I think, it started when Marian Rivera tried our massage service and posted it on her Instagram—and then it all started to boom! We’re so thankful for the sincere endorsements of our celebrity customers!”
Business is booming, indeed, in spite of government-imposed lockdowns stifling the movement of customers. The lockdowns have been bad for business in the Philippines in general, but the Calupitan sisters are thriving despite the ongoing crisis.
‘I think, it started when Marian Rivera tried our massage service and posted it on her Instagram—and then it all started to boom! We’re so thankful for the sincere endorsements of our celebrity customers!’
Things became challenging when the pandemic hit in March 2020, but Michelle, a single mom, empathized with her employees who are mostly single moms—and rallied them to work harder and with more passion. “Everything was tough due to the restrictions,” says the more senior of the sibling. “But we conquered our fears and embraced the new normal. We moved forward. We did it because our employees needed us, especially those who are single moms.”
Celebrity endorsements aside, the enterprise has grown beyond their expectations in spite of their polar personalities. The sisters’ opposing characteristics, combined, are their strength. Yan—the more detail-oriented person between the two—manages day-to-day operations, while Michelle—who’s great at creating business strategy and analyzing the big picture—is in charge of marketing and business development.
This is the secret sauce of the steadily growing enterprise Michelle and Yan have put up—They complement each other, as human beings and as professional managers, perfectly. “We know each other well—our strengths and weaknesses,” says Michelle, a graduate of tourism management from the Global City Innovative College in BGC.
As the entrepreneurs become more successful and well-known with their business, they’re now inspiring more Filipinas to have the courage to become their own boss. After all, the two businesswomen say, if one student and one single mother with four kids were able to start and make a business grow in extremely difficult times, other women can do it, too.