by Mariel Abanes
The women behind Aperitif, sisters Karla and Kim Zulueta
What happens when you and your sister both have entrepreneurial spirits and love creating new brands that will conquer the business world? What else, but a power duo slaying the scene! Or, in Karla and Kim Zulueta’s case, it’s a power all-girl group. Karla and Kim have three other sisters: Kristine, Kamille, and Kat. Five sisters who have built empires of their own. They're so entrepreneurial that they tease themselves as the “Kardashians of Manila," referencing how Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian as well Kendall and Kylie Jenner all made a name for themselves.
Entertaining at home and event styling these days have become a serious business. People pay to achieve memorable parties that are every inch Instagram-worthy. If you happen to chance upon netizens sharing beautifully curated grazing tables and boxes in the metro today, those most likely are the products of the brilliant minds and creative hands of this duo.
The grazing boxes of Aperitif are a first in the world—something the sisters are really proud of. What started out as a hobby for 29-year-old Karla, who loves hosting parties and creating grazing tables of her own, turned out to be a promising business that creates statement pieces in various occasions.
Aperitif offers an array of gourmet boxes, hot dishes, Paella and Porchetta, and party stations to make entertaining so much easier, way more stylish, and absolutely more delightful. For only a range of P1,500 to P30,000, you can already have truly unforgettable spreads that your guests will love and enjoy.
We can’t help but get curious about the women behind this unique concept. As juicy as the grapes on their spread, as varied as the cheese and cold cuts served before us, and as packed as every platter they curate, somehow, we figured they greatly reflect Karla and Kim's passion, drive, and enthusiasm for their craft.
From conversations about their other business ventures (yes, they have more!) to how it is working with your sister, from their roles and specialties to this one common interest, we can conclude that they indeed are an inspiring twosome.
Metro.Style: Who thought of starting Aperitif and venturing into this business together?
Kim: Actually, she was the one who started it. I was in in banking for three years. When I finished, I made my own line of swimsuits called Ocean Essentials. And then when I started that, Karla also started Aperitif. It was only one day, I think, it’s getting bigger that she needed help, and asked me if we can be partners.
Karla: Actually, Aperitif started when I moved to my new place, my first condo. I hosted a lot of house parties, so I always do a cheese and cold cuts table that looked like the tables we have now. So people would ask me, do you want to cater for me or do my wedding? I say "no" because I don’t want to go into catering. But then one day, I had too much wine, and I woke up to the usual wine hangover, and thought of posting photos of my grazing tables on Instagram. I asked my French boyfriend, "What name should I put?" And he said, call it Aperitif!
MS: What exactly does each of you do in Aperitif?
Kim: I do the operations, finance, and accounting, so day-to-day operations, events, I handle that. She usually handles the marketing side, so the creative part and thinking of new products.
MS: Aside from Aperitif, can you talk about your other business ventures?
Karla: I have a lot! So, I am a co-founder of Sundowners Vacation Villas in Bolinao, Pangasinan, and we’re off to making our second branch in Zambales this year. I am also the marketing director of Skin 101 Dermatology, (Karla is also part of home décor brand Z Home - Ed)
Kim: I have Ocean Essentials. I design everything, I source the fabric, so it’s all originally designed by me. I sell it online, and in our store called The Zoo Store in Wakwak, Mandaluyong.
(Their family also runs the vacation home rental Raffis Way in Tagaytay and the Zoo retail shop, which is defined as the "destination for all things beautiful." - Ed)
MS: How do you handle several businesses all at the same time?
Karla: I believe in hiring the best team. One person can’t do all those jobs, so I really make sure that I have the best people to be able to segregate the work that needs to be done.
MS: When you’re not in work mode, what do you do?
Kim: I like traveling. My favorite place to go to is Bali. Whenever I go there, I see a lot of inspiration—in hotels, clothing, restaurants, food, everything. I love the vibe and the culture.
Karla: I itch to travel, too! But aside from that, I just love thinking of new ideas to bring out, new brands to curate, so I’m constantly in that search to do more brands.
MS: What’s the best thing about doing business with your sister?
Kim: The best thing is you know you can trust them because you’re family, and you know that whatever they say is of the best interest of everyone.
Karla: We really work together because we always have different ideas, and we specialize in different fields. Like she’s more organized, I’m more on the creative side; she’s really on the design and aesthetics and how to make it look pretty, and I’m the one who constantly thinks of what’s next. We really jive together. We’re like bestfriends.
MS: What is the best lesson you've learned from running a business?
Karla: I learned that when you enter a business, you have to prepare for people who might copy or hate you. Before, I used to delve in that fact that I get emotional about it. But now that we’re growing, those copycats and haters will always be there so I just constantly improve our products and focus on our work. And also, to always have fun while making a brand grow.
Kim: If you have an idea, act on it right away. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity because there will never be one—you just make your own.
MS: What’s next for both of you?
Kim: I love being an entrepreneur, and I like being my own boss. I like being able to do what I want and transform my idea into a business. So, hopefully, more businesses to come, and definitely grow my swimwear line now and also Aperitif.
Karla: I really want to expand Aperitif, and I’m excited for the new branch that we’re working on for Sundowners. I know that I will never stop creating new brands and experiences for other people. So I’m looking forward to that next one, too!
MS: What’s your piece of advice to people who’d like to build their own business?
Karla: Take in every opportunity that you can. Just start it, just do it. That’s the pattern that I saw in my businesses right now. If I didn’t say "yes" to it or if one day I didn’t wake up and make that Instagram account, I wouldn’t have started it. I would never know what it would be the brand that it is today.
Photographs by Paola Aseron
Makeup by Acie Fores (Karla) and Kathrina Bautista (Kim)
Hairstyling by Eric Oliva