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A 21-success, story

October 30, 2021 | 12:00am

Aficionado Perfumes and Personal Care president and CEO Joel Cruz with Asia CEO Awards CEO Rebecca Bustamante during the 2018 awarding ceremony, where Cruz received an Entrepreneur of the Year-Circle of Excellence award, while Aficionado was one of the SME Company of the Year-Circle of Excellence awardees

STAR/ File

Your columnist has had the pleasure and privilege of working closely with the country’s leading perfume and personal care brand Aficionado, led by its unmatched and hardworking president and CEO Joel Cruz, for close to 11 years now. It was a collaboration that was born out of our common passion for excellence and engaging communities far and wide. When our friendship first started in December of 2010, Aficionado was given the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Hall of Fame’s Specialty Retailer award in the perfume category.

Aficionado opened in 2011 with a bang through an unforgettable grand launch event held at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds featuring Gary Valenciano and Charice, now known as Jake Xyrus: 85,000 people in the audience were introduced to the brand’s new perfumes and personal care products at the time.

Another important milestone was the brand’s upgrading of its manufacturing plant in Sterling Industrial Park in Bulacan, boasting an automated front-to-back-end production line.

When Aficionado geared up for the international market, we helped invite ambassadors and trade attachés of various ASEAN member countries to hear more about what the brand had to offer. It was an effort that truly paid off, as Taiwan is now the top export market for Aficionado.

Aficionado was also given the Good Manufacturing Practices certification by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, followed by an ISO 9001:2015 certification by TÜV Rheinland of Germany. These recognitions lend credence to Aficionado’s excellent manufacturing processes and operations.

Determined to be ahead of the pack and overcome the effects of the pandemic, Aficionado pivoted and started offering hygiene essentials like ethyl alcohol, hand sanitizer and hand soap. The company was even able to supply these essentials to several LGUs and the national government, a conscious effort to help the fight against COVID-19.

Aficionado also had a successful entry into the e-commerce sector with the launch of its online store on two of the country’s top online shopping websites.

Furthermore, Joel diversified into the food and beverage business with the opening of Takoyatea by Joel Cruz, which offers mouthwatering and affordable Japanese food and irresistible and refreshing milk teas. That food business, with its flagship store located right next to the Aficionado headquarters in Manila, continues to reap success and grow in leaps and bounds as it has opened more than 60 stores in a span of one year.

Amid all of his company’s back-to-back-to-back successes, Joel never forgets to give back to his community. He was named as one of Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy for 2013 for his donations focused “on helping children and teenagers who are abandoned, troubled or sick, as well as the elderly and disabled.” In addition, the magazine cited that Aficionado “celebrates its anniversary by giving cash to charities and paying employees to volunteer for a day.”

Joel eventually became a first-time father in 2012 with the birth of his firstborn twins, Prince Sean and Princess Synne, followed by two more sets of twins with Harry and Harvey, Charles and Charlotte, and single births with Zaid and Ziv. Always the loving and doting father, his children’s birthdays are always a much-awaited event in his circle of influence.

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You may email me at [email protected]. Follow me on Facebook and YouTube: Johnny Litton by Jayelles PH and on Instagram: @jayellesph.

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