Filipina entrepreneur, Charmaine “Ishka” Villacisneros, was fortunate enough to experience the exciting world of American shopping for most of her life. Moving to the state of California, she had access to the latest gadgets, novelty items, and other unique products that folks back in Manila could only dream of having.
Having that opportunity, she would send items that are worthy of sharing to her friends and relatives in the Philippines by means of balikbayan boxes. It wasn’t long before others took this as an opportunity to obtain commodities from American retailers, with her as their middle man.
As the number of orders grew, Ishka realized that she and her balikbayan boxes allowed Filipino consumers to experience the shopping privilege that she had. She provided them with a faster, more convenient, and a more affordable way to shop for products from the U.S, without needing to wait for their relatives to bring it to them as pasalubongs.
And in this realization was the inception of Californila, easily explained as, “Your Personal Shopper from California to Manila.”
Californila Online Store – A Product of the Filipino Demand
Californila first started under the name of “Stuff2Shop” in 2007. Using the Multiply social media site, it took “customized orders” from both acquaintances and random online shoppers – meaning buyers can request for any goods, even if it’s not found in the Stuff2Shop Multiply page.
Realizing its potential to grow, Stuff2Shop rebranded into Californila; continuing to accept customized orders. However, the service is not limited to individual product orders. By observing what regular customers purchase, as well as current consumer trends in the U.S., Californila gains an idea of what’s hip and in, and uses this to the site’s advantage.
“Whatever the demand is, and when we see a unique product that we’d like to share with Filipinos, we add it to our store” Ishka explained.
A diverse range of exciting merchandise now appears in their online store – from hot fashion pieces to mouth-watering snacks to brand new gadgets. Over the years, Californila has tickled the fancy of many Filipinos by featuring food crazes like Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (Creamy, Crunchy, Cocoa Swirl and Cookies n Cream). They currently offer the brand new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, which proves that they keep up with the times.
Another factor that sets Californila apart from similar services is that they are able to introduce new products that can’t be found in local stores in Manila, such as the Keurig, which offers a home and commercial single-cup coffee brewing systems plus brand name coffees and teas, Hostess’ Twinkies (an American favorite), Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter Biscotti (a limited commodity in the States).
Californila Offers Convenient and Inexpensive Solutions to Common Shipping Restrictions
Future Plans for Californila
According to Ishka, California’s overall operations will soon go beyond its online platform. She shared, “We’re planning to open kiosks at popular malls in Manila so customers can have a glimpse of our new products, as well as pick up their orders at a mall close to them.” Thus, Californila has slowly followed this step by participating in several bazaars in Manila this Christmas Season (November and December), offering exclusive goods from the US.
With the growing demand for imported products, the growth opportunities for Californila are limitless. It has already displayed great success from its humble beginnings in 2007, and surely, it has more to offer in the coming years. Until then, you could just sit back, online shop, and ship it to Californila, or you can have Californila become your own Personal Shopper.
To discover more about their products and services, visit Californila.com today.