The most authentic growth occurs organically. Certainly, success requires planning. But ultimately, openness to unfamiliar experiences, a willingness to take risks, and an appetite for exploring possibilities define the experience of entrepreneurship – and lead to more fruitful innovations and connections.

Connected by Joanne Boston of JB Kollaborations, Diana Halog of Filipino Food Lab and Melody Lorenzo of Sweet Condesa became fast friends at last year’s Entrepinays Summit, and have seen their relationship blossom alongside their individual projects – a friendship that’s centered on supporting one another’s meaningful endeavors. 

“I heard about the Entrepinays summit, and I was like, ‘This speaks to me, a gathering of intelligent, powerful women.’ But I almost didn’t go, because it was my friend’s wedding in Grass Valley the night before! So I kept saying ‘No,’ but I kept feeling something in my gut, telling me to go.” 

“And I didn’t really know anybody – I was just getting to know Joanne  – and I was just sort of open to the possibility of linking up with people and growing relationships. But mostly I just wanted to hear about how Pinays run their businesses, how they got started, what inspired them, and how they get over bumps in the road,” Diana says.

“Being new in business, a major question is: How do you collaborate? Because you don’t know a lot of people, so it’s like how do you get to know people?”

“But it’s just as simple as asking and introducing yourself, and feeling the trust to open up that conversation with people in the community – even if you don’t know them personally, they’re still in community with you, and that’s significant. It’s something that can become a superpower for people like us, if you allow it to happen,” Melody says.

Behind her ethos of community trust, Melody approached Joanne  at the Entrepinays summit, reminding her of an old DM she had sent weeks prior. A simple, gentle reminder led to an  introduction to Diana and a collaboration on the launch of Melody’s dessert and tea concepts for Sweet Condesa’s tasting experiences.

“Melody came up to me at the summit and said, ‘I ran across your Instagram and I messaged you!’ And, like, I didn’t respond – I neglected that inbox! But it was like, ‘OK, you know, if you’re down to work together, let’s do it!,” Joanne  says.

“Jo really brought us together. She’s just a powerhouse in the Filipino food community; so I met Jo, and I kept hearing Melody’s name and her project, and I wanted to learn from her because she was a little more established – even though she had just started herself! And she was super generous with her expertise, and that’s really the foundation of our relationship. She’s still hustling, doing Sweet Condesa, and has kids! I have no idea how she does it!” Diana says.

Certainly, obtaining sage advice from a more established entrepreneur, or acquiring the aid of an experienced catering creative, are good enough reasons to attend an entrepreneurship conference.

But by creating the sort of value for emerging entrepreneurs which goes far beyond logistical tips and bottom-line oriented thinking – developing lasting, meaningful relationships and communities – the Entrepinays Summit reinforces the inspiration that drives people to start their own business in the first place: do work that satisfies the soul and helps people live better lives.

By taking the lessons and connections from the Entrepinays Summit and applying them to their work, Melody and Diana have done more than grow their businesses. They have deepened their roots in the community and history of Filipina entrepreneurship and positioned themselves to push the movement forward for the next up.

Seeing everyone’s hustle and drive, it’s really an inspiration, and it keeps me in check – like, if they can do this, then I can do this, too! It’s like co-opetition. We are cooperative competition. We aren’t trying to beat each other down; we are trying to help each other get better,” Diana says.

“Don’t hesitate to ask for help, because you can’t do it on your own. There can be a fear of asking sometimes for fear of rejection, but it doesn’t work that way – it’s not so black and white. You will be surprised at what kind of support you can get, and what you can learn,” Melody says.

Written by Paul Barrera, photos from Jo Boston.