A visionnaire and a leader who continues to provide quality makeup and skincare products
Ever Bilena may have celebrated 39 years this 2022, but the rich history that comes with it spans more than when it started in 1983. Its founder, Dioceldo Sy, credits the continuing success of Ever Bilena to his Chinese immigrant maternal grandfather’s humble beginnings when he first arrived in the Philippines.
From his grandfather, he learned the values of working hard, networking, and maintaining good relationships. His grandfather had a pomade business during the Japanese occupation, and his family lived right on top of the Japanese camp. He befriended and offered them homecooked food which led his grandfather to run the business with ease during World War II. Unfortunately, his grandfather passed away early, when Sy was only 10 years old.
Finding his own path
Sy has a hard life growing up, which forced Sy to explore and earn on his own, this didn’t stop Sy from exploring and earning on his own. He was also a working student at Philippine School of Business Administration, even prioritizing work over a basketball career, but, unfortunately, didn't finish college. He also tried different avenues to make money, but eventually went back to beginning with a nail polish range.
Beginning with nail polish range, which simultaneously helped boost the country’s economy (boosting economy wasn’t the main goal) his goal was to make a living, but ended up becoming source of livelihood to thers. Ever Bilena Cosmetics expanded to include makeup products such as eyeshadows and lipsticks. And within three years, the company grew three times over, providing him more opportunities to expand the business, provide jobs and hire more staff, and help boost the country’s economy.
Back then, makeup products were expensive and not many local entrepreneurs wanted to venture into producing them. Sy was one of those who had the courage to do so for the reason that he wanted to make Filipinas feel beautiful without breaking the bank. Three things that continue to guide him and his team—global quality, affordable price, and pricing should be at least 50 percent of the minimum wage.
Mentoring starts now
Finished with a double degree in Business Administration from He has School of Business, and Southeast Asian Studies. When Sy started a family of his own, it was but natural to train at least one of his children to take on the reins of running the business—eventually. One of them was his daughter Denice Sy-Munez who finished her studies in University of California, Berkeley where she finished Business Administration from HAAS School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in South and South East Asian Studies. “I’m so happy she did pretty well there. In fact, she did some on-campus jobs and got some good scholarships,” Sy muses. “Fortunately, I was able to convince her to come back and start working for me rather than working for the companies in America.”
It was in 2014 when Denice came home and Sy gave her one of the accounts the company was having a lot of challenges with at the time, a convenience store chain. Sy trusted his management team enough to take care of his daughter and vice versa, even reminding his sales manager not to give her special treatment. He would ask the manager every few months or so on how Denice has been doing. After one and a half years, the manager reported to Sy, “You’re lucky, I think she can do it!”
It was only this time that Sy started promoting her. “I started giving her more responsibilities until she won the Key Accounts Manager of the year award in 2017,” says the proud father who shares that Denice is now the chief sales and marketing officer.
Sailing to new ventures
Like any businesses, there were a few hiccups along the way. The more recent one was how the company handled the challenges that came with the pandemic. “That’s the advantage I have now—having Denice work with me,” adds Sy who revealed that the team had difficulties adjusting day to day based on government mandate and health protocols. “But there was no choice, you have to throw away all your plans for the year because the situation doesn’t call for it.” The resilience and dedication to taking care of their employees and still providing self-care and feel-good products for their customers guided Sy and his team in making sure no one is left behind.
“The first six months to a year of the pandemic, I was more busy than before because I have to help and guide them on what to do, what not to do, and what are the changes and adjustments,” adds Sy. And with his guidance, changes were implemented and they moved fast to adapt, including new brands that were launched successfully such as skincare lines Hello Glow, Ever Organics, and Hyaloo, and makeup line Spotlight Cosmetics. Within those two years, Spotlight Cosmetics made it to the top 10 bestselling brands in Watsons.
Proud father and mentor
When asked how he feels about these accomplishments, especially during this challenging past few years. “Of course, I am happy. All the new brands are her projects, not mine. So, I am just here to support her 100 percent on what she thinks what’s best for the market as I am not young anymore. I listen to them and I evaluate what they say, and I let them do it. I want to know what they’re doing and I ask questions. And if I agree to their answers, then I allow them to do it,” he explains.
At work, he makes sure to be the role model of the company. “I do it by example,” he adds. “Normally, I take my lunch with my middle management staff. These are the things that show that we are all human beings. I’m just like one of them. Maybe I am older, I know more than them, and I share the wisdom to them and allow them to shine. I also want them to shine, so that I can learn from them. It goes both ways.”
Sy is a visionnaire indeed, and it takes a great president and chief executive officer to lead the company, more so during unprecendented times. He’s truly deserving of the name “Father of Philippine Cosmetics.”