Paula Hilario and Her Crowning Glory

Paula Hilario and Her Crowning Glory


Babe Formula founder Paula Hilario talks about her vision of helping people grow their business and making them feel confident about their crowning glory

The color combination of the shampoo and conditioner bottles created by Paula Terese Hilario, 26, emit feelings of lightness and joy. They hit the mark, if one were to look at Paula’s vision for her hair care brand, Babe Formula: a product surrounded by a community that encourages support and deep friendships. But unknown to many, the story behind the brand’s success is far from the feelings those bottles emit.

Since it was launched in November 2019, the woman behind Babe Formula has put years of heartrending work just “to make it work.” And it all began with one tiny, courageous step.

The young entrepreneur

The business of selling was simply fun for the little Paula, but it became a bit more serious when she was in high school and college. At the time, she started becoming curious about anything that was related to the beauty industry, especially makeup and skincare. “That’s why my skin has become sensitive,” she explains. “I tried them all.” It was also during this period in her life when she started selling makeup brushes, makeup bags, etc. After she graduated from college with a degree in communication arts, she took an internship in Metro Manila and saw another opportunity to expand her business. Unfortunately, the business didn’t work. “I think I wasn’t able to study the market that I wanted to target back then,” she says.

Always the practical one, Paula then decided to work as a freelance producer for concerts, music videos, etc. She loved the job and it made more than what she needed. However, while it was one of the most fulfilling jobs she has ever had, the long hours and physical needs of the work took a toll on her body, which caused the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). “I felt weak all the time, but I was happy kasi lumilikot ang utak ko,” she says. To have a more secure and structured environment, she turned to corporate work as an executive assistant to the CEO. And it was here where she was introduced to a friend’s sister, who had her own skincare business.

The business had an interesting model, Paula thought at the time: The business owner would only talk directly to distributors—regional, provincial, and city—and the latter would deal with resellers. Paula immediately adds that it’s not a multilevel marketing strategy. “It’s way different,” she emphasizes.

After a smooth start, Paula became a distributor for two brands, although she says she also invested in the brands, which made her a “business partner” in a way. And it was through this line of work that she was able to build her network of distributors and resellers. She also quit her corporate job because she was already earning twice as much as her regular income.

Unfortunately, when she thought she had learned enough to start building her own business, the friends who introduced her to the model didn’t take too kindly to her idea. The friendships fell apart, but the experience made her realize that starting a business requires a strong mind.

“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise,” she says. “Because the longer the business is thriving, the more I realize na kailangan ng matatag na mental health. And these happenings in my life have made me so matatag talaga.” She adds, “Sabi ko, I need to focus on my business.”

A bottle of hope

With her savings and help from her mother, Paula was able to pool money to start a hair care business, which she named Babe Formula. The history of the name? “Nothing spectacular,” she says, adding that one day, while she was thinking of a name, her then boyfriend-now-husband called her, “babe.” “My copywriter and I are always in sync,” she explains further. “I don’t like drama. I want the names to be simple and ’yung tumatak sa tao.”

When she decided to create the brand, the name was barely a hurdle. It was the search for a manufacturer that became a challenge. At the time, few manufacturers wanted to make products that aren’t in the skincare or makeup industry, plus, there had to be a minimum order. Fortunately, she found one that was willing to help her even though she only ordered 50 gallons for her first few batches. She also had to find a manufacturer of bottles. In their first few months, she and boyfriend had to fill up the bottles themselves and ship to their four distributors. They would sell on Facebook and Instagram.

At the time, all she wanted to do was to build a brand that was in line with what she was looking for herself. “I’ve tried different shampoos, but those that are sulfate-free would make my hair sticky,” she says. “Naging conscious na ako no’n sa formulation. Gusto ko sulfate-free. Pwede pa sa may kulay. Kasi nasira talaga buhok ko before, so nu’ng nagtampo siya, naghanap ako ng products na hiyang.

When the pandemic came, she thought everything would be over. She was gravely mistaken. During the pandemic, the online sellers multiplied to a number she didn’t think was possible. And the rest is history.

Babe Formula is Paula’s symbol of hard work and determination. And none of what she has now came fast and easy. She even recalls selling live on TikTok while she was weeks away from giving birth to her daughter in January 2023.

She says the faster the business grows, the more she doesn’t want to take it slow because she owes her distributors and resellers her time and effort. “They trusted me,” she explains. “So I’ll do this for them.”

Today, Babe Formula has distributors in all regions of the country and abroad and has expanded to more than 4,000 resellers. A few major department stores have also offered to carry their product, but Paula rejected these offers because she says it might take the business away from the distributors and resellers. “We’re very transparent, so they are aware that we are focused doon sa pinangako namin sa kanila, na aalagaan namin sila. We want them to succeed.” The brand’s vision, Paula says, is to continue providing opportunities to people to earn extra income with their “babepreneur” program while they are having fun and building friendships within the Babe community.

Her own lane

From the beginning, Hilario knew she wanted to veer away from the makeup and skincare industry and build a brand in the less-saturated haircare market. Part of her advocacy, too, is making her customers feel good about themselves. With the nutrients in Babe Formula working on every hair strand, customers can flaunt their shiny, strong, and fragrant hair everywhere they go.

Paula assures her customers that the brand Babe Formula will always craft their products with intention. As one who has been through all the beauty trends, Paula knows the importance of having good formulation, like Babe Formula products, which are sulfate-free. Their highest selling items are the Bonbon Shampoo and Bonbon Conditioner—both of which have sweet, fruity scents—and the Whimsicle line, which has a fresh scent.

The entrepreneur-mom-wife is also planning on creating other hair care brands that will cater to different target markets. And they will keep creating products in the local scene that have never been seen before.

“Take baby steps,” Paula gives her two cents. “Hindi ako nagmadali. There’s a right time for everything. I’m not saying we are so big and successful already, but slowly, we’ll get there. Trust the process. This didn’t happen overnight. Kung alam niyo lang pinagdaanan namin. Once, pagbukas ko ng truck, nalaglag lahat ng bottles. Nagtinginan na lang kami ng husband ko. Those are the moments people don’t see. If you’re not successful the first time, it doesn’t mean you failed already. Keep pushing.”

Photography MIGGY BROÑO
Creative Direction JONES PALTENG
Photography Assistant MENARD DOMINGO
Hair and Makeup AJ CASTRO

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