Founder Spotilght: Joanna Tanada and Kathleen Penaranda of Knots and Pans
The Philippine One-Stop Online Wedding Registry
By Xavier Selman
Every year in the Philippines, almost a million brides and grooms walk down the aisle together to join their hands in holy matrimony, starting their new family, home, and life as a married couple. But building a new home isn’t exactly one of the easiest things to do—hundreds of little miscellaneous items fill a house, blending into the background until that perfect time when they’re needed. This is why wedding gifts are so important, and weddings are the perfect occasion to give and receive gifts: there is nothing more helpful than having all your friends contribute to your home with the little things, which, if couples themselves bought, would really add up. And the simplest way to do all this?
Knots and Pans, the one-stop online wedding registry that streamlines every step in the wedding gift process, making it easier than ever before for a couple to create their list of gifts, send it out to their friends and family, and have those friends and family buy directly from the site to have it shipped. No hassle, no stress, nothing but simplicity.
When Joanna Tañada and Rachel Yulo both got married in 2014, the two friends recognized the potential of capturing and refocusing the wedding industry in the Philippines. But before they began their business, they realized that another partner was needed on the team, so they got Kathleen Peñaranda, Joanna’s sister, on board. The 3 co-founders were then set to get business venture going. We recently sat down with them and talked about everything that goes on around an operation like Knots and Pans, and the nature of the Philippine wedding scene in general.
For a company that a year ago was nothing more than a brainchild of three ambitious individuals, breaking into the established industry of weddings should seem like a difficult task. However, with Joanna’s background in marketing, Rachel’s expertise in advertising, and Kathleen’s knowledge in retail, pushing the company forward was made possible. The three proved to have an advantageous mix of expertise that helped strengthen Knots and Pans.
“They lack innovation,” Tañada says, when asked about the existing competition in the Philippine wedding scene: physical registry stations, as well as department stores that cater weddings and events. “They’ve gotten too complacent, so used to people coming to them that they’ve stopped realizing that there’s so much room for improvement.”
And Knots and Pans definitely shows how much cleaner and more innovative it can be: unlike all other competition, Knots and Pans provides everything, for both wedding couple and guests—the interface to collect your own list of potential gifts found on the site, the ability to share this list to all of your friends and family, and then the easy-access purchasing and delivering with whatever personalized message or note you may want to include.
Hard work and its rewards
But like starting any new business in a saturated field, tons of hard work from everyone involved was demanded every day, from the beginning until now. “When it’s your own business, you never stop being busy,” they tell us. “It’s a continuous thought in your head, thinking about how you can grow this thing, make it work.” Their nights can involve delivering items, checking in on the back-end of the site, responding to endless emails, and their weekends can be just the same. “It’s always important to achieve a work life balance,” says Tañada, reflecting on how she prioritizes finding times to spend with her husband and family.
And all this work is clearly worth it. The market is largely untapped—with half a million couples marrying every year in the Philippines, even if they target only a portion of that—namely, those in Metro Manila—the opportunity for business is still more than enough to define a successful business. “Each couple brings around 150-250 guests on average to their wedding,” they say. By providing an easy and openly accessible way to help make all those weddings and wedding gifts smoother, giving and receiving becomes a cultural norm that will begin to set.
Adding a genuine touch
So how does this benefit the local industry? “We love working with local artists and designers,” they say. With more than 2,000 items and over 100 brands, many of which are recognizable global brands like Tefal, Philips, Bose, Rubbermaid, GoPro, etc., Knots and Pans makes sure to keep a place on the shelves for the local items, because they believe that’s one of the places in which they can be different. “Most of the time you can only find unique, local items from temporary conventions, and malls only offer generic brands.” Knots and Pans lets friends buy authentic and Philippine-made merchandise straight off the website, without the hassle of finding it and making sure that it fits the wedding registry bill.
But what really makes Knots and Pans different? Every item on the site has been carefully curated by them through photos, descriptions, and possible applications, to fully inform the future married couple and all their guests how each gift could best benefit them. Every artist, designer, or brand featured on the site has always been personally sought after by Knots and Pans, ensuring that their price range and their product philosophy fits with their own. So much work goes into making sure everything is simply pretty: taking pictures, developing the perfect user interface, and researching through the Internet or going door-to-door to find the right partners that they want to represent them as a business.
It all comes down to the value proposition of Knots and Pans: linking vendors and customers together, making it easier for both parties to find each other, making everyone happy. Because in the end, it’s about providing a service that people need and will want to recommend. “We call ourselves Knots and Pans because marriage involves tying the knot, and ‘Pans’ represent the household necessities that a functional marriage needs.” Because it’s more than just starting a business—“We wanted to start our own brand: Knots and Pans.”
And they certainly have. It’s hard to imagine how any competitor could become more efficient than Knots and Pans. Perhaps the reason for their success stems from the clear passion behind the scenes. “We love our work,” Tañada says as a final note. “We look forward to being able to grow this platform of gift-giving, go beyond the wedding industry and strengthen our competitive advantage.”