Get to know the Baken co-founders and longtime business partners.
Kelly Parreño-Librojo and Rachel Carrasco first met when they were both living in Singapore in 2012. Since then, their friendship bloomed and they eventually founded several startups together.
Parreño-Librojo majored in culinary arts at a local university before pursuing a double degree at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai.
Meanwhile, Carrasco has been immersed in the world of branding since 2014. She has worked for LVMH’s prestige champagne houses Dom Perignon, Krug, and Ruinart.
“Having the same values, we feel, is the most important thing. It will paint you a good picture of how you can grow and evolve together. You want your partnership to have a long life span and stand the test of time,” says Carrasco.
Though their partnership began through friendship, the pair also emphasize the importance of compatibility in terms of goals and work ethic.
“There needs to be a common ground, mutual respect, and trust,” says Parreño-Librojo. “By mutual respect, we mean you see each other as equals. Second, find someone who complements or adds to your capabilities rather than one who goes against it.”
Here are just a couple of business ventures the pair have worked on, both together and on their own or with other partners.
Ta Ke Ho Me Sushi
Food and beverage specialist Kelly Parreño-Librojo and her husband, Dr. Miguel “Migo” Librojo first met and dated while they were in high school.
They went their separate ways after their teenage years then reunited as adults. With their second shot at love, the couple now have several businesses together, including Ta Ke Ho Me Sushi.
They opened the first branch just a year after they got back together, in honor of their late mothers’ love for sushi.
“I remember my mom telling me that she and my dad used to save up money to go on sushi dates since Japanese food has always been pricey,” Kelly shares.
“We wanted to bridge the gap between cheap bilao sushi and the ones from expensive Japanese restaurants. The concept is fresh and healthy fast food that’s affordable and can be consumed while on the go.”
Ta Ke Ho Me Sushi branches can be found all over Metro Manila as well as Pampanga and Olongapo, Zambales.
Rachel Carrasco started her company, Rache, in 2017 as a marketing consultancy. Her previous clients include Diageo, Moet Hennessy, American Express, and TWG.
Since 2021, Carrasco has been steering her company towards advocacy, especially those related to female empowerment and mental health.
While based in Singapore, RACHE has worked with the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) and Aidha.
“I chose to work with AWARE as they have a dedicated pillar to women in the workplace, which looks at ensuring that they are protected and given equal opportunities,” Carrasco says.
“On the other hand, Aidha is a lot more personal,” she shares. The organization is focused on helping foreign domestic workers and low-income women achieve financial independence through education.
Parreño-Librojo first discovered the canned vodka-based cocktail brand in 2018 while she and her husband were on a business trip in China.
In 2020, the couple invited Carrasco to join them in launching the brand in the Philippines. The drink is known for its strength, low sugar, and zero purine.
The business partners found a way to make the project work while navigating the “new normal” due to the pandemic.
“The only frustrating part is that in the past I could easily fly to Singapore and Rachel would always be in Manila, so we get face time every month and then we get to meet our manufacturers and suppliers in person,” says Parreño-Librojo.
Parreño-Librojo and Carrasco co-founded Baken because of their mutual love for “the best ingredient in the world: bacon.”
Since 2021, Baken has been available in Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Australia.
The premium all-bacon snack and confectionery line includes the smoky and salty Real Bacon Crisps, soft and chewy Bacon Cookies, and sweet and savory Bacon Jam. All of their products use 100% real bacon and no artificial substitues.
“We want our bacon snacks to be as versatile as the meat they were inspired by, so creativity was the real driving force behind these creations,” says their website.
Last March 4, Baken partnered with Dr. Wine’s Chef Marc Carbo for a wine pairing event at BGC. Chef Carbo and his team created a special menu that featured the bacon snack.
The menu included Feta Cheese Mousse and Bacon Crisp and Truffle Mousse and Bacon Jam Cornettos, Pizza Tarte Flambée with Bacon Bits and Arugula, Crostini with Pan-seared Foie Gras and Bacon Jam, and for dessert a Vanilla Bacon Cookie Ice Cream with Raspberry Sauce.
Banner image via Instagram @shopbaken.