Female entrepreneurs are changing the game in numerous fields. Indeed, a quick scan of nascent businesses, particularly in the fields of beauty, health, and wellness, will show you that the majority of businesses that came about over the past decade were built up and continue to be operated by women.
As we are currently commemorating International Women’s Month, we are casting the spotlight on a woman whose business is focused on marketing communications since 2014 and recently, on delivering better health to Filipinos through innovative technologies. Her story is one we hope will inspire others to start on their own paths to success.
“I didn’t plan on being an entrepreneur,” i3 Inc.’s CEO and chief innovator Katherine Alejar admits somewhat ruefully. “My dream was to climb up the corporate ladder. However, I couldn’t find a job that would be able to pay my asking salary; so, I decided to start my own business.”
Not joining the corporate rat race certainly changed things for Alejar. Her company has expanded its scope of services, not only as a marketing communications agency in-charge of Visa’s point of sale marketing requirements since 2014. In 2019, i3 Inc. introduced and popularized the Vital Dome, France’s contribution to the growing number of wellness solutions available worldwide, in the Philippines. The company is also building new products and innovative ways for people to stay healthy and beautiful, inside and out.
But the road that eventually led to where she is today was not an easy one for Alejar. An alumna of De La Salle University, she majored in the humanities and the first steps in her career path led her to advertising and marketing.
An Unlikely Beginning
“I worked for well-known media outfits [in the early years of my career,]” Alejar recalls. “But the most memorable one for me was MTV as it was where I got my first exposure to the international market. I also worked as a consultant for a creative agency, then I joined a subsidiary of a major telco company as its mobile advertising head.”
Alejar’s work opened her eyes to a number of things about women as members of the workforce, trendsetters, and individuals. The way many eschewed health and wellness to invest their earnings in luxury goods, in particular, was something she found disturbing.
“Health issues are one of the most common problems I’ve seen with my peers,” she says. “A lot of women tend to neglect these; and, instead, I see them buying these luxurious items. They are not paying attention to their health – and that’s going to be a problem sooner or later.”
Bringing In the Gift of Good Health
Herself a self-proclaimed fitness and wellness buff, Alejar’s wellness journey started at a young age. Then, she sought out solutions that would improve her appearance and keep her body toned and strong.
But external beauty fades if one doesn’t take care of their internal health, so she began to seek solutions that would help boost one’s energy in a healthy and non-toxic manner and thus improve one’s productivity and vitality. That is where the Vital Dome comes in.
“It’s not just a machine for beauty and, in the post-pandemic scenario, it’s timely because this is exactly what we need,” Alejar says. “After living under the specter of COVID-19, we need to think of ways to live healthier lives. The Vital Dome is one such way.”
Indeed, the FIRs (far infrared rays) generated by the carbon panels within the Vital Dome help reduce internal inflammation – a necessary factor for managing chronic pain, mitigating the impact of aging on one’s joints and muscles, and rehabilitating those recovering from injuries or the wear and tear of repetitive movement.
Its benefits extend towards healthy weight management, body shaping, and even dermatology as FIRs kick-start the regenerative process at the skin’s cellular level, leading to a fresher, more elastic, and younger appearance.
“It’s the best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones,” Alejar says of the Vital Dome. “You can relax in it after a hard day, and it’s very useful for detox. That’s important as we are exposed to oxidative stress every fifteen minutes that may cause numerous diseases. The Vital Dome helps flush these out from our systems, making us healthier.”
The Vital Dome is currently available at the Aivee Clinic, the Avignon Clinic, The Farm at San Benito, Peak Form, at the Well-Balanced Chiropractic Wellness Center and in Mindanao, at the CDO Pearl Body Touch Facial Center.
Coping with a crisis
“When the pandemic hit, inquiries for the Vital Dome went down to absolute zero,” she recalls. “No one would dare to go out to experience its benefits. Plus, all my clients decided to drastically cut back on their budget, citing that to continue to do conventional marketing during a pandemic was highly insensitive.”
But where some saw a setback, Alejar took the restrictions of the pandemic as a challenge and a way to – temporarily – switch up her tactics to stay afloat.
She decided to start selling testing kits and also partnered with a doctor and a team of nurses to perform on-site tests. Likewise, she found temporary occupations for her own team of drivers in food delivery to help them support their families.
Alejar also became active in an international business organization (BNI) which made her more creative in doing business, honed her leadership skills and allowed her to break international barriers via zoom by networking with business owners all over world.
She likewise began offering partnerships with clinics and wellness centers to retain brand visibility, something that allowed her to continue ordering from her principal in France and retain her position as the device’s exclusive distributor.
She introduced Bring Home a Dome campaign that would allow clients to install Vital Dome in their homes so that they could share its benefits with family and friends.
Beyond the Dome
While i3 Inc. is the exclusive Philippine distributor of the Vital Dome, it is not the only wellness solution it offers.
Alejar recently introduced Oligocheck, a non-invasive diagnostic device that does real-time analysis if one has been exposed to heavy metals and other environmental contaminants that are detrimental to one’s health. Likewise, the device uses algorithms to check for any deficiencies or systemic excesses in terms of minerals and trace elements, as well as any adverse aspects in one’s physiology. As a diagnostic device for medical professionals, it delivers valuable information regarding the causes of aging and chronic illness.
i3 is also the exclusive distributor of Rejucream, a solution that women in their perimenopausal and menopausal years will gladly welcome as it relieves discomfort in the female intimate areas by relieving vaginal atrophy – a key source of stress and physical pain for women in their 40s and 50s.
The Oligocheck is available at The Farm at San Benito and JLopez Medical Clinic. Rejucream, on the other hand, may be purchased sans prescription at the Vital Dome website, as well as the partner gynecological and dermatological clinics of i3, Inc.
She will soon launch new health and beauty products to the Philippine market.
Some Sage Advice
This intrepid entrepreneur is setting her sights overseas, bringing the gift of health and wellness to those who need it the most. In fact, i3 Inc. is also now the exclusive distributor of Vital Dome in Singapore, Maldives and South Korea.
” My vision is to have satellite offices in other countries and cutting-edge products and solutions in the beauty and wellness industry. I also hope to be able to help others by generating valuable employment,” is Alejar’s reply when asked where she sees herself in the coming years. “I also want to strengthen the marketing communications business side of i3 Inc.”
As for those thinking of going into business for themselves, Alejar says that they should go for it, especially now that the gender barriers that have kept women on the sidelines of progress have begun to disappear. But, of course, one has to be ready – physically and mentally – before taking on the task of setting up shop.
“I would recommend that you read a lot and attend workshops, seminars and trainings so you know what’s going on in the world, especially the field you’re venturing into,” she suggests. (Alejar recently attended IMCAS Paris, the world’s largest congress for dermatologists, plastic surgeons and aesthetic and derma suppliers. She and her team also visited Vital Dome’s headquarters in France to update their technical knowledge of the dome especially of the new model that will soon be introduced).
She adds that one also ought to have a sensible routine where prayer, meditation, exercise, a good night’s sleep, detoxification, and a good diet have a part to play.
To prepare one’s overall mindset, she recommends getting a good busines coach or mentor to set them on the right path, and to keep good company with those worthy of being emulated and listened to. Likewise, she also suggests staying humble and willing to share knowledge with others seeking their own paths to success.
As she puts it, “If I can help others or inspire them even in small ways, that would be good for me. I’ve had many challenges just like any aspiring business owner and helping them by sharing what I’ve learned is both rewarding and humbling. There are no limits to what you can do if you put your heart and mind into it – so, believe in yourself and what you can do.”