The Business of Being Happy

ladyA young woman ditches a dream, finds the entrepreneur’s playground

Shanna Louise Lopez once fancied having the lawyer’s letters next to her name. She saw herself blazing through court rooms, winning cases one after the other all dolled-up in her signature stilettos.

She studied legal management at Ateneo de Manila University with the intent to chase that ambition. Yet upon returning home to Cebu after graduation, the aspiring lawyer found herself trailing a different career route.

Quoting a colleague, Shanna said: ” Once you get into the market, you can’t leave.”

Instead of having the ‘Atty.” stamped before chief executive of thriving business firms, some of which she herself started from the ground up. It’s an expanding roster of title, too, as the all-around young entrepreneur plans to eventually try her hand in other industries.

At 28, Shanna us founder of Nexus Real Estate Corp. and Happy Rice Company, managing director of Enjoy Philippines, and local partner for restaurant chain SumoSam. On the side, she also helps out in the family-owned Pacific Pensionne.

“T’m so used to multitasking every day,” she said. Starting her day early, the ever so stylish Shanna would hop from one office to the next, with stopovers in her warehouses and retail shops downtown. And what keeps her going? “It’s the challenges that come along.”

Shanna said she got her enterprising nature from her mother. “My mom had a wholesale dried fish business in Taboan,” Shanna revealed. “She’s very hard working. She trained me at a very young age and she’s the kind who doesn’t settle for anything less. When I got back from Manila, I had to prove to her that I was capable and that she can trust me to handle this and that.”

Two houses
It all started when she had two houses constructed on her family’s idle lands. The units were sold sooner than she expected, paving the way for her career in real estate. Shanna was only 21 years old at that time.

“I ventured into real estate without knowing anything about it. I went around looking for a broker I could talk to, ” Shanna said/ “Even with our rice distribution I used to do door-to-door marketing. I guess it’s all about taking initiative.”

Everything Shanna needed to know about running a business she learned through experience. Today, Nexus boasts of four fully developed residential areas in Minglanilla and in Consolacion while her Happy Rice Company, sole distributor of Doña Rita Premium Rice, has expanded to the entire Visayas and Mindanao.
In 2008, Shanna started Enjoy Philippines, a privilege program that allows members to avail themselves of bargains and discounts from merchant partners. The program traces its roots to Enjoy Shanghai Privilege Card, which Shanna discovered while she was visiting her sister there.