‘It was business as usual when the pandemic struck’

Filipino entrepreneur Francoise Albrando Crosbie started developing products based on the keto diet at her home in the United Arab Emirates after becoming a mom, and started her business, Keto Goodies, in 2019.

She moved to Dubai a decade ago after selling her English language teaching business in the Philippines, working for a public relations firm and as a human resources manager before working as a full-time musician for four years.

Ms. Crosbie, 34, is not only the managing director of Keto Goodies, but also a partner in a menu business and a consultant for other companies.

She lives with her husband, a teacher, and their young son on Dubai Creek Harbor.

Did your upbringing help shape your attitudes towards money?

I lived in the Philippines, the youngest of eight with a housewife, mom and dad who worked in the government. It’s not like we’re swimming in it (money). We felt comfortable, each of us had a really good education. I have siblings who are much older than me, and my brother paid for my college degree in nursing. I had a lot to live with. It’s an Asian mentality that you have to go to college, work and be successful. It shaped me in terms of values ​​and value for money.

What was your first experience in retail?

When I was growing up, my father had a small business. In 1997 everyone had to go to their computer store to print everything out. I’d type, photocopy, and checkout. I would get a commission if I could sell something, but I didn’t think it was a job because I ran a family business that made us money. I learned a lot about trading and also asked high school classmates to get their computer supplies from me.

What was your first salary?

My first job was in a call center. They paid well, Dh 1,000 per month. I’ve lived my best life. At 18 I was out of the house. When I finished my studies, my parents told me, “Take care of yourself”. So I had to work to survive. I tried administrative nursing for a while but at the time it got you 400 Dh per month. I had to choose between making money and nursing; Although I loved it, I needed more financial freedom.

What made you switch to street music?

After various jobs in Dubai, I wanted to give up briefly to make music. A few years ago there weren’t many musicians here, especially women who play guitar and sing. I earned Dh17,000 a month as a human resources director. I earned Dh600 to work busking at the Ripe Market. It eased my stress. But I quit my job and played brunch for four years.

One of the reasons I did this was because I wanted to travel with my husband; he is a teacher, so he would have two months off. But I made good money. Before Covid-19, on December, I made 40,000 Dh for all of my appearances.

I didn’t have any responsibility, but now I have to take responsibility. I have employees who need money at the end of the month.

Francoise Albrando Crosbie, founder of Keto Goodies

How did keto goodies start?

We had a baby My sister told me to try the keto diet because after giving birth I didn’t lose the weight that I should. I was on the verge of diabetes. I baked almond bread and posted it on a mom’s Facebook group. There were so many responses to “Please do some for me”. I had 10 customers in August 2018, then 20, then 50. I realized this could be a business. I was one of the pioneers in the keto industry.

My vision is to make it affordable as I want people to keep the lifestyle and keep coming back. We are now in about 30 Carrefour stores.

What is your attitude towards spending?

All I do is my mother’s voice in my head. I never buy lavish things. It’s always what I need first, before anything else. So, I am a saver and what I spend is my business in the hope that it will get back to me 10x.

How do you save?

We just keep it in the bank, a “rainy day fund”. My husband and I call it a war chest. We don’t like to take out loans. If my company needs to invest a little more, we take it here.

Do you have a valued purchase?

My 20 year old Taylor guitar. It was worth about Dh18,000. I sold and replaced a few more guitars. I had to sound better and it was really nice. One of my weaknesses is that when I see a guitar that is really vintage, I want it. I have another Taylor in mind that is roughly Dh16,000.

Can money make you happy?

In the sense that it makes everyone around me comfortable, just like me. I have a child that I can think of and give my son what he needs … that takes money.

Are you smart with money

I’m smarter now compared to my first business in the Philippines, where I just spent it all and didn’t know where it all was. In retrospect, I find that when I was young, I didn’t handle money responsibly. I needed structure so that someone would teach me how to organize.

I didn’t have any responsibility, but now I have to take responsibility. I have employees who need money at the end of the month. I have a family. I’m frugal to a point, but every now and then I want to be able to live a spa day and lifestyle.

Do you regret the expenses?

Three years ago I bought this big, chunky stroller for my son for about 2,500 Dh. It was expensive, heavy and difficult to travel, just a waste. I drive a Mini Cooper and this brand, it works, but it doesn’t fit.

This taught me to do proper research with every purchase and see if it had good reviews.

What do you prefer to spend money on?

Provide comfort to my co-workers and friends. I like to spend on people. For example we go out, we watch a movie and that is my pleasure and we will all be happy. You don’t have to think about money and I would love to share my blessings with you.

Has the pandemic affected your business?

I was one of the lucky ones when the pandemic broke out. Little did I know the business was somehow pandemic safe. Before the pandemic, I was already online and making deliveries. So it was the same as always, people were still ordering.

How do you see your financial future?

I think everyone wants to be financially stable, financially independent when they retire or even before retirement age. My goal is not to live a luxurious life, but a comfortable one.

When circumstances allow – when I’ve sold my company for, say, a few million – I’ll get back to music, travel, and food. Also, my parents need a retirement plan, so we (my siblings and I) have to save for them together.

Updated: August 26, 2021, 7:00 a.m.

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