Female Visionary: Founder of Australian-Based Fashion Boutique MNovis Shares Why Diversifying In Business Is Important

By Marane A. Plaza

We’ve heard it a lot of times before: when it comes to investment in business, it is smart to put your eggs in a number of baskets and not just in one. Marites Novis, founder of Australian-based fashion boutique MNovis, has experienced first-hand the benefits of this business strategy.

From real estate, fashion, to now beauty — Marites has pretty much done it all.

“I got married at the age of 19, so super early. Then I started my own business at 28 years old. We built QFirst Property Investment Group, a construction company with my husband who is an electrical engineer. We did it for 8 years in the Philippines until we finally brought it in Australia,” the female entrepreneur shared in an exclusive interview with Style Visionary Network and Stylish Magazine. “The goal has always been to offer cost-effective yet top quality contractor requirements be it residential and commercial.”

In 2008, the Novis family decided to migrate to Australia to expand QFirst internationally.

“Let me tell you, it was super challenging. I thought it would be easy to apply our strategies in Manila to the market in Sydney, but I was wrong. It took us 9 years, I’d say, before we truly understood and mastered our Australian market.”

At first, Novis was still co-managing the Philippine operations. Marites decided to study and get her real estate broker license in Australia so she can better cater to the needs of their new market in Sydney.

In her first two months of being a licensed real estate broker in Sydney, she was able to sell 18 properties. 

“On my fourth month, I was able to sell 16 more properties. It really is about building the trust, and of course, relationships,” she said.

Today, the QFirst Property Investment Group Australia office has a group of real estate brokers and agents in Sydney under their belt whom they constantly train and nurture. 

Diving in Fashion

Just like any other Filipino abroad, Marites wanted a taste of Filipino culture in her new home in Sydney. That’s when she decided to franchise the famous Filipino clothing brand Plains & Prints in Australia.

“I’ve always loved fashion. Growing up, I always expressed myself through my style, and one of my favorite clothing brands is Plains & Prints. So I decided to offer the brand to the Australian market, and of course, the Filipino community. Even Filipino entrepreneurs and OFWs from the countryside will visit us in Sydney just so they can shop at our Plains & Prints store. It feels great to be able to give them that sense of Filipino pride through fashion and shopping in our store.”

Marites saw right away that these same visitors would turn into QFirst clients because she’s inevitably building relationships with customers.

“I’ve always been a people-person, I can easily build relationships with anyone. My goal will always be to cater to the customers and their best interest all the time, be it in real estate investments or fashion, and maintain a good relationship with anyone,” she shared.

“In business, when you focus on the value you are giving to your clients and customers, as well as maintaining good relationships all the time, the money will follow,” she added.

Fashion as Enterprise

Aside from her own Plains & Prints franchise store in Sydney, Marites had also eventually ventured in fashion show production.

“I brought Filipino fashion designers to Sydney through fashion show presentations. So I would produce fashion shows for designers such as Rocky Gathercole. I did that for three years, until Rocky and I decided to open our very own clothing brand. That’s how MNovis fashion boutique was born. Too bad, he passed on already, but I planned MNovis with Rocky.”

Today, MNovis Fashion Boutique is located at the Westpoint Shopping Centre in Blacktown, New South Wales in Australia, catering fashion pieces to customers.

“Our goal with MNovis is to offer both ready-to-wear (RTW) and couture to both Filipino and Australian markets in Sydney– from Gen Z, millenials to Gen X. I have a very good relationship with Chico Estiva, another avant garde and formalwear Filipino designer, so he helps us sometimes with couture offerings. It feels good to offer quality fashion pieces through our very own fashion brand, aside from our franchise brand. “

New Venture in Beauty

Marites is hard at work these days preparing to launch her direct selling company, as she tries her hand in the beauty industry.

“We have a huge pool of real estate brokers and sellers in Sydney, and when their sales performance is taking a hit, I’d like to think I can still offer them business and income opportunities, since I have nurtured them in sales through the years. I want to empower them even more as we introduce our new beauty brand and direct selling company called MariNova,” the visionary added.

“After all, as an entrepreneur, it is important that we build new streams of income, or put our eggs in a number of baskets, and not just focus on one,” she said.

“Of course, I want to offer the market something that I am passionate about, and something I personally use and need. I have a very sensitive skin growing up and even now, so my team developed skincare products that can truly solve my skin issues.”

Novis and her team of professional chemists, formulators and manufacturers took two years to perfect their beauty products, which range from facial serums, pimple-fighting facial wash, to sunscreen. The goal for MariNova beauty brand is to empower more people through direct selling and business in the fast-growing industries of wellness and beauty.

“Since we are offering top quality skincare products, I am confident that my team and even incoming direct sellers can really make profits and extra income from our MariNova products.”

MariNova already soft launched in Sydney with a fun yacht party last March.

“We are set to officially launch MariNova in Manila in April,” she added. “We are excited to offer income opportunities to our Filipino kababayans. We have various direct selling packages to choose from.”

“It is important to build various income and business streams so if one is not doing so good seasonally, then you have a fallback,” she concluded. “The same thing when you are a full-time employee– it is a good thing to have a side hustle, and direct selling is a great opportunity for extra income.”

Note: This article is also available in our lifestyle-business platform Style Visionary Network.