“I’ve been working on this for a really long time. Just seeing everything materialize and come together is making me emotional and really happy,” Amanda “Callie” Ahmee‘s voice was breaking while sharing her thoughts about her newly launched business, Cal The Brand.

Callie at the Cal the Brand media launch (Photo courtesy of Dimples Romana)

She held back tears of joys after her mom, award-winning actress and endorser Dimples Romana, surprised her with a Zoom conference and had supportive relatives and friends as guests. Callie added, “So, Cal The Brand is basically a platform that I want to use to promote our local artisans and the beautiful things that they make and hopefully, put my own twist to it. And just elevate it so it will become more recognized by people, especially people my age.”

Dimples Romana and 17-year old daughter Callie Ahmee

At a young age, 17-year old Callie already has a clear-cut vision of what she wants—that is supporting local artisans and putting their pieces in a platform that is closer to the youth through her business.

Softspoken yet articulate, Callie was able to share with us the roots of this advocacy. She attributed her entrepreneurial spirit and love for locally-made products to her mom and dad. She said, “I was struck by the beauty of the things that were made by our fellow Filipinos. I think it runs in our family to have this awe for things that are locally made.

She got it from her Momma (and Poppa!)

When asked about her secret behind raising a well-rounded child, Dimples made sure she shared the credit with her husband businessman-vlogger Boyet Ahmee, emphasizing she’s not alone in parenting. “I think the secret is to get the balance between freedom and discipline,” the Star Magic artist said. “Kasi I’m very strict especially with school and study habits. When she was younger, it was very important for me and for Boyet to establish the rules we have at home. Very simple rules — obedience, patience, hard work, and respect not only for us but for other people and nature,”

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After instilling discipline, Dimples and Boyet eventually shifted to encouragement and honing Callie’s skills. She shared, “When she was around nine or ten, that was when we encouraged her to tell us what she wanted to do like cake decorating.”

Callie taking cake decorating classes (Photo courtesy of Dimples Romana’s Instagram account)
Callie’s brush lettering work | In case you missed it, she’s behind the brush lettering used in her mom’s published book Dimps’ Tips. (Photo courtesy of Dimples Romana’s Instagram account)

It was a struggle, Dimples said, as Callie showed signs of being an introvert. “Pero napansin ko very creative siya. In-acknowledge ko na outspoken ako, madaldal ako, mas nasasabi ko ang gusto kong gawin through acting, dancing, singing. Si Callie iba siya and I respected that. I think it’s very important for us parents to respect the fact that our children may not be the same as us,” she added. Open-minded, Dimples acknowledged that some things that parents want are not what their children desire. “I think the reason why Callie loves what she’s doing now and she’s doing it on her own is because at first we gave her really deep roots for where she can get all her strength and courage. When everything she needed was deeply rooted, she can now spread her wings and do whatever she wants to do. Of course, with our support.”

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Taking the call of entrepreneurship

Following the footsteps of her parents, Callie combined her love for rattan bags and desire for productivity early last year to develop her brand. Cal the Brand is now all set to reach out to the young online buyers who are looking for aesthetic and locally-made and sourced pieces.

“Around that time my mom and I would always visit bazaars and the likes, and I would always see these stalls selling woven rattan bags and they always came in those circular shapes,” she recalled. Wanting to offer something new to the market, Callie set her sights on selling unconventional shapes of abaca bag as s simple initiative to support local craftsmen and to elevate this part of the Filipino culture.

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I wanted to put a twist to it. A twist that will help make it more appealing to people, especially my age,” she added.

As driven and ambitious as she was, Callie’s age both came with an advantage and a setback.  On one end, she has this huge and powerful platform that she’s very at home with. On the other end, she had to hit the ground running as far finding the right people to make her envisioned products a reality and in learning the tropes of putting up a business solo.

I wanted to start a business, something of my own, and make it my responsibility, from developing designs, creating my own branding, to selling itself. I’m getting closer to college and I feel like this will help so much with gaining independence and confidence in my decisions,” she explained.

While she had mentors that guided her towards the establishment of Cal the Brand, Callie literally had to do the groundwork and learn how to run a business on her own.

“I read some books and articles, learned from my parents and as well as some close family friends, and just generally learned by myself during the whole process,” she said.

“But whenever I would contact suppliers and manufacturers, they would mention some pretty complicated terms that were new to me, and I had to take note of them and learn their definitions. Sometimes I would just straightforwardly tell them that I was 16, and I kid you not, at least half of the suppliers I’ve talked to just didn’t respond to me anymore,” Calie added.

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With hard work and perseverance, Callie eventually found a family friend who gamely teamed up with her for the business. Their collaboration has then paved the way for her first 3-piece capsule collection containing bags and other fashion items—a field that she’s endeared on and familiar with.

I started Cal with the initiative to support local, so I will surely not stop with fashion items. Though it is my main focus now, I will also be venturing into furniture soon!” she excitedly shared.

I started Cal with the initiative to support local, so I will surely not stop with fashion items. Though it is my main focus now, I will also be venturing into furniture soon!” she excitedly shared.

This young businesswoman surely has her sights on big things for Cal the Brand, and in really pushing her business forward alongside her dream course aviation. Callie is set to go to Australia next year to take up Aviation Management.

Five years from now, I hope to see people with products from Cal wearing or using them proudly, with them being locally made. I hope that, with Cal, people become more inclined to support our local artisans and promote them more, not only locally but hopefully internationally, as well, she ended.

Cal the Brand is currently available on Instagram with the handle @CalTheBrand.

RANDOM VIDEO

Callie got a touching surprise from Kapamilya actress Bea Alonzo, her birth godmother.

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