July 25, 2017
Cover art Samantha Gonzales
Alyssa Valdez is a killer inside the court. She’s almost a living volleyball icon—one who has managed to collect Most Valuable Player awards, Athlete of the Year titles, and championship trophies. She even clinched an invitation to play as an import for one of Thailand’s local leagues. Ms. Valdez’s monicker—The Phenom—suits her perfectly.
These days though, she is more than a fiery medal collector: Ms. Valdez is also a cook, waitress, and cashier all rolled into one convenient volleybelle.
Recently, Ms. Valdez opened a unicorn‑themed restaurant called Rainbow Dreams Cafe located at what has been dubbed the “food capital” of Quezon City: Maginhawa Street. Rainbow Dreams Cafe is a wonderland in pink, blue and purple, with stuffed ponies and customers dressed in onesies.
“My friends visited me in Thailand. When we had free time, we went to Bangkok and we saw this really cute unicorn‑themed cafe. A lot of people were eating, taking pictures and I personally liked the place,” Ms. Valdez recalled in an interview with SparkUp. “Then I thought, why not bring it to Manila? Since we love unicorns, food, and sweets, we tried.”
Rainbow Dreams opened last May and in two months time, it already shone bright in blogs and on TV. Serving colorful pasta dishes, cups of rice molded in stars, and sumptuous main dishes such as BBQ chops and wings, waffles, s’mores and milkshakes, Rainbow Dreams promises to make its customers’ day better. It has received a lot of love with 21,300 likes on Facebook in only two months.
Ms. Valdez, who is also a part owner of Ally’s All‑Day Breakfast Place with Kiefer Ravena, Baser Amer and others, pursued Rainbow Dreams with Ally Mingo—founder of Ally’s, despite claiming that she knows nothing about businesses. A BS Psychology graduate at Ateneo de Manila University, she admits: “I had no idea so I tried to learn everything from scratch.”
“Honestly, I don’t have any business background. I have no interest when it comes to business. [Ms. Mingo] tapped me again to do another business and I agreed. I trust the people I work with, especially with how Ally’s has been, we tried to come up with another one,” the 24‑year‑old Ms. Valdez said. “I’m happy that they also trust me.”
As Ms. Valdez has a lot of catching up to do, the former Lady Eagle makes sure to be as hands on as possible.
“I try to go to the kitchen, cook, see what’s going on inside. I also take down orders, talk and interact with the customers,” said Ms. Valdez.
One thing she’s learned from wearing a businesswoman’s hat is engaging with people and being service‑centered.
“Talking to the customers and talking to the staff are two different things. I learned to understand that,” she said. “It’s also important to listen to your customers and acknowledge what they want.”
Meanwhile, with numbers: “I’m really trying to learn. It’s a process and patience is needed. Especially with the technical side like return of investment and other stuff, you really have to be patient.”
Juggling sports, family, love, and entrepreneurship is no easy work but Ms. Valdez is making it work for her.
“The most important thing in business is understanding,” she reflects. “You have to understand your partners and they have to understand you. We have to know our schedules and roles in the business. We’re open to each other.”
“Arguments and misunderstandings are part of it but at the end of the day, you’re just thinking of what’s best for the business.”
Rainbow Dreams Cafe is located at 80 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City.
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