From online store to lifestyle cafe: How these Gen Z entrepreneurs opened a lifestyle café

Gen Z is known to be the most tech competent of any generation, and known to be natural entrepreneurs and 22-year-old management accountant students proved these right.

What started as an online shop became a lifestyle café when high school friends Mary Jhea Nichole Hechanova and Noura Maloloy-on brought life into their idea of turning passion into business.

The duo vividly recall how they commenced their online venture @theguappacebu on Instagram, after their graduation in 2019: “We started posting and selling our accessories online. To our surprise, people loved our pieces, so we gradually added more designs and items for them to choose from.”

After months of pouring their hearts and creativity to Guappa, their brand’s name, the pair took the opportunity to open a physical shop, “to make another dream into a reality,” and that was open a coffee shop alongside their supposed Guappa shop as the two delight in enjoying a good cup of coffee and chilling in pretty places.

So instead of opening two separate shops, and practically to have another source of income, Jhea and Noura conflated their two business ideas and came up with an innovative concept—a lifestyle café named Hip and Sip Café.

The 25-seat café aims to provide customers a place to be productive and creative without feeling restricted with its contemporary interior with some plants to keep the atmosphere alive and relaxing, some framed uplifting quotes hanging on the wall, and well-arranged display of hip and trendy products such as clothes, native bags made by local artisans and accessories. Bible verses written on rolled paper placed inside a jar for everyone to get for free is also on display. This is the owners’ way of “reminding its guests about God’s unconditional love.”

As local businesswomen, Jhea who focuses on the overall operations and Noura who is assigned in the marketing and finance department, see the value in supporting the local community, which is why they use local coffee beans at their café to support local farmers. Their best-sellers include White Mocha, Caramel Macchiato, and Hazelnut Latte, and Matcha Green Tea for the non-coffee option.

As creatives, the young entrepreneurs who are also eco-conscious make use of old milk boxes as take-out carriers for drinks. FYI, they are accepting milk carton donations.

Pastries like cinnamon rolls, ube rolls with halaya, banana bread, sandwiches and all-day breakfast food are available too. Meat-free selections are also up for grabs to accommodate vegan and vegetarian guests. Milk tea lovers have a wide range of bubble tea options to choose from too.

When asked what advice they can give to aspiring young entrepreneurs, “Work on something that you’re passionate about because there is a great purpose for that and you have to pursue it with everything you have. Seek God’s will in all that you do, and He will show you which path to take. Success doesn’t happen overnight; it is through hard work, perseverance, consistency, commitment and sacrifice. Don’t look at how long it will take you to accomplish your goals or how hard it will be. Just know that one day it will all be worth it. Everything, in His time,” they answered happily.

Hip and Sip Café is located at Ayala Access Road, F. Cabahug St., Mandaue City, beside Cityscape Hotel. It is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.