Young Newlywed Entrepreneurs
Myrtle Alegado: They say that compared to older generations, young people can be very optimistic. They’re full of energy and often come up with fresh ideas because they aren’t always set in their ways. What does this have to do with today’s topic? Stay tuned and find out.
Welcome to Happy Life, a podcast brought to you by INC Media Audio that aims to help newlyweds navigate through the first years of marriage. I’m your host, Myrtle Alegado, and I’ve been married to my husband, Paul, since 1999. And later, we’ll hear some Bible-based advice through Brother Felmar Serreno, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ.
Myrtle: The willingness of the youth to try new things, coupled with their ability to quickly adapt to new technologies, make them natural leaders in the ever-developing small business climate. Our newlywed couple today are really quite young, but they’re also aspiring entrepreneurs. Let’s welcome Kegan and Ailafaye to Happy Life. Hello, you two. Kegan and Ailafaye Baker: Hello!
Myrtle: Both of you are still quite young. What made you decide that this is the right time to get married, and would you mind telling us how old you both are?
Kegan Baker: We’re both 21 and we started dating when we were 18. Her parents were very strict. They had a lot of rules. We wanted to gain their trust. We had to be home at a certain time, very early in the night, like eight o’clock. We would rush home at like 6:30. We were like, “Oh we gotta get home. We don’t want to get her parents to be mad at us. And we wanted to avoid temptations and to be careful.
We saw, like, a lot of people our age going out and doing things that weren’t necessarily appropriate for Church Of Christ members, especially like later on in the night they’d go clubbing and things like that, or they’d go travel together and they’re not married. And we wanted to avoid that as much as possible, because we are members of the Church [Of Christ]. We want God’s blessing in everything that we do.
We wanted to also go and travel the world together, to embark on a new journey, and get to know each other better. So, that’s why we decided to get married so early on, and we wanted to just start our lives together.
Ailafaye Baker: Aside from my parents, we had a lot of help from the brethren within the Church. One of the brethren was Brother Ricky Bravo, who’s a minister in the Church Of Christ, and his wife, Sister May Bravo. So we would go over there for dinner, and they are a couple that we really really trust because, truthfully, they remind us a lot about ourselves. They shared stories with us that they’re actually the opposite of us. Sister May and Brother Ricky Bravo, they got married later on in life, and she actually shared with me that they got criticized for being a lot older.
They always had their home open for us whenever we needed any type of guidance. That’s why we developed a good relationship with them. Since he’s a minister in the Church, we would always be comfortable enough to ask him questions and advice. He would share [with] us the words of Almighty God and counsel us when we had problems.
Myrtle: So did you find that people questioned your decision to get married so young?
Ailafaye: A lot of people actually did question our decision to get married young. A lot of people would ask us why. “Why would you get married so young?” “There’s a lot to live for.” “There’s a lot out there to do.” “You’re still in college,” or “That person is holding you back.” But I think the easiest way to put it is that you love this person, and you trust this person, and you build a relationship with them.
A lot of people assumed I was pregnant, and that was the main reason why we would be getting married. And it hurt my emotions a lot, because I had to have this negative reason to be marrying him. Sometimes, because I’m a human, it would get to me. When you hear the words of other people you start to question yourself, but only you know the truth. We know what’s true. And we trusted in God to get rid of those rumors actually.
My mom, I came to her for guidance. I asked her, “Mom, there’s a lot of people saying these things about me.” And she told me to be more prayerful, and to ignore them, and that God knows what’s true. “Anywhere you go,” she always told me this, she said, “even if I’m not watching you, God is always watching you.” We didn’t let what others said hurt us. We just became more prayerful. It actually strengthened our faith [in] God. We just took all the negative and basically wanted to show everyone that through faith anything is possible.
Myrtle: And, Kegan, Ailafaye said that you two knew the truth and, you know, of course God knows the truth. How important was it to have your family’s support as well?
Kegan: It was very important, but it was really harder for me because I had just become, you know, newly [baptized] in the Church, and they had just met her. They didn’t really believe in the same things we believe. But praise be to God that my mom and my stepdad are now in the Church.
Myrtle: Congrats! That’s awesome.
Kegan: It was really, really important that I had her parents’ blessing, which is why I bought a house so early on in my life is I saved every penny I made working, because I didn’t want to marry her and not have anything for her. I didn’t want to live on the streets with her being married, you know?
Myrtle: You said that it was important for you to have her family’s support. So, you know, how did you get them, I guess, to come around to the idea of you two getting married so young?
Kegan: A lot of prayer, a lot of going to devotional prayers, talking with them, them getting to know me more. Our families really championed us because they wanted the best for us. Even though we were young they were like, “You guys have a bright future. We want to see you do the things that you want in this life, just as long as they are in accordance with God’s will.
Myrtle: That’s great advice. And you know, with marriage, there are a lot of adjustments and challenges and that might be extra difficult for a couple so young. So I was wondering, what inspired you to start your own business at this stage in your life?
Kegan: I have always had a passion for food. I love cooking. I started cooking when I was 14 in restaurants. That was my first cooking job ever. I’ve always been very ambitious. In culinary, I’ve watched, nonstop studied, practiced all the time. I’d buy, like, bags of potatoes and just practice knife cuts.
But my wife is the main reason I started this business. She always believed in what I can do. She always showed that she really cared about my passions and stuff. My mom, she started a Hawaiian shave ice truck, and she told me how hard it was to start. And she kind of helped guide me. I’m Hawaiian and Filipino. I’ve always loved just cooking. So my goal is to showcase my talents and my family’s culture. Growing up, I didn’t learn about my cultures that much, because we lived separated from my grandparents on both sides.
Myrtle: So what do you love about, you know, the Hawaiian culture and cuisine?
Kegan: I love just the different flavors and how they’re so different. Filipino food is like more, you know, vinegar, black pepper and all that stuff. And then Hawaiian food is a little more sweet and then when you have them together, it’s just so good.
I want to bring my family’s culture and my food to the people of Orlando, because there’s not that many easily accessible foods, for people who are from the Philippines or from Hawaii, here. They’re always like, “Oh, there’s never any good places around here.” They’re all mixed or not authentic and it’s hard for them. I want to support the needs of my family, my wife, and then I want to also be able to give back to the Church.
Myrtle: So you said you started pretty much cooking when you were 14. You know, how else did you kind of add to your culinary skills and how did you continue to learn?
Kegan: I did a lot of reading, a lot of watching people. And then, since I was in restaurants a lot of chefs helped me to develop my skills, as well as my own mom, and my wife’s family as well. They were kind of the harshest critics, but they always did it with love and helped me to become the best chef version of myself.
Myrtle: What do you love about that, Ailafaye, that he’s such a good chef?
Ailafaye: I think the best thing about that is that, like he said, my family is the greatest critic. So, a lot of that comes from how strict they are. So,when it comes to food, we’re from Pampanga, which is the food capital of the Philippines. So, my dad takes a lot of pride in his cooking, because that’s how my grandmother took care of them when they were younger. So, when they would criticize him about even, like, how he chops the food, or how the flavor of the food is, it has to be spot on.
And he was surprised, because of how critical my family is, that he started to develop in a way that, like, I thought he would be offended. But instead he grew to challenge himself, and he got over every obstacle. Sometimes my dad would be so mean, that he would need to take a moment, go to the room and pray, and then come back and try again. So, him being able to take criticism, and basically taking it as a way to better himself in his cooking, was what makes him a best chef for me.
Myrtle: Oh, well good on you, Kegan. You’re growing a tough skin at a young age, you know, and I think that’s really needed in any kind of industry where you’re really trying to go after your dreams. People are going to criticize you, people are going to pretty much try to pull you down, but you’ve just gotta keep going. Right? I mean, you’ve got the support of your family, and your wife, and you’ve got God. So, just keep praying about it.
So, how did you prepare yourselves to become entrepreneurs? You know, what kind of research did you carry out to see if launching a business would even be feasible?
Kegan: I did a lot of research, countless hours of just looking at, you know, how this can be done. There [were] a lot of permits that we had to get done, a lot of licensing, especially in America. You’ve got to go through the proper channels and the proper laws to be able to, you know, sell food.
I worked at five restaurants. Two of them were Italian restaurants, one of them was number one in Orlando at one point when I was working there. So about seven years, give or take, in the restaurant industry. There were a lot of chefs who tried to mentor me, but there was also a lot that tried to hinder me from learning, or becoming better, because they were afraid that I was going to be better than them.
We did devotional prayers every single night. Am I going to quit my job to do this? I don’t know what I’m going to do. There were a lot of things that happened where, like, I don’t know how we’re going to get through this and then we prayed. And then somehow it got resolved. Even when I feel I don’t have enough knowledge or skills, I turn to God for the answers.
Myrtle: And He definitely has all the answers.
Let’s also hear some biblical advice about our topic today. Right now, let’s welcome back Brother Felmar Serreno, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ. Hi again, Brother Felmar! We’re glad you’re joining us again on Happy Life.
Brother Felmar Serreno: Hello, everybody. Now, if I’m not mistaken, Kegan and Aila, you have actually set the record for being the youngest newlywed couple, so far, on the show. And at 21 years old, currently, the both of you, I don’t know if anyone will top that, not that it’s a competition or anything like that.
So I actually want to zero in on what you mentioned earlier about wanting to avoid temptations and be careful. Of course in courtship, after getting to know someone, you develop very strong feelings that would turn into love for one another. But during this development and early stage, the risk of falling into temptation may arise. But we never want to be defeated by temptation, because that leads to sin, and sin leads to God’s anger. And if you make God angry, well, then how can you expect Him to bless your dreams, or help you succeed as an entrepreneur, or flourish as a married couple?
So, having said that, the question now is this: “What temptation should be avoided by a man and woman who are in courtship or engaged?” They should avoid committing premarital sex. Why? Because sex is a blessing that is reserved for married couples. First off, what’s the proof that sex is a blessing from God? Let’s turn to the book of Genesis, chapter 2, and the verse is 24, in the New King James Version:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
[Genesis 2:24 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: Therefore, based on the Bible, sex itself is not something impure. It is pure, because it is from God. But for whom is this blessing reserved? For a husband and wife, a man and woman who have been joined together in holy matrimony. And what should attract husband and wife to each other in sex? Let’s go to I John, chapter four, verse seven:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
[I John 4:7 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: Sex should be motivated by love, the blessing of love that God has formed and developed between husband and wife for each other. Sex is an expression of love to the spouse that God has blessed you to have. Take note: This expression of love should not be one sided. Both husband and wife should give themselves to each other out of their love for each other. However, if someone were to take sex outside of true marriage, what would happen? This is what the Bible teaches in I Corinthians this time, chapter six, the verses are nine to 10:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
[1 Corinthians 6:9-10 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar Serreno: What are examples of sex outside of true marriage? According to the Bible, fornication, or premarital sex. What else? Adultery, having sex with another person who is not your spouse. What else? Homosexuality, men having sex with other men, or women having sex with other women. What does the Bible say about adultery, fornication, and homosexuality? These are unrighteous. What will befall those who practice unrighteous deeds? They will not inherit the kingdom of God. They will not receive God’s graces in this life, and more so in the life to come.
Therefore, to everyone who’s tuning in, take note: When others engage in premarital sex, they are ruining the potential of God’s blessings in their life. Premarital sex is in violation of God’s design of love and marriage between a man and woman. That’s why in the Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Church Of Christ, that we’re members of, from our Bible studies on doctrines, to worship service lessons, to initiatives of the Church through the CFO, or Christian family organizations, and even to podcasts like this of the Church, under INC Media, what is it that we are molded to do? Live in righteousness or holiness and not unrighteous deeds.
So, we’re all aware that there’s pressure in various circles of society to go along with premarital sex or fornication, especially for those in your age bracket, Kegan and Aila. So, if you don’t mind sharing with everybody, what helped the two of you to stand your ground, all this time, in our Christian values? Maybe if we could start with Aila.
Ailafaye: So, what helped me stand my ground in our Christian values is my relationship with my parents. My mom and my dad both led me to have a stronger faith with God. My mom always had a good relationship with me. She taught me, from a very young age, how powerful it is to pray when times get difficult. Being honest with your parents is so important, especially even when you get into a relationship. Because when you get into a relationship, it’s something new. There are a lot of things that I’m experiencing now that I look to my mom and my dad for guidance. Like, I never knew this before. My mom had always guided me in a way where I would see my parents with arguments, they would end it with prayer. So to help me stand in my Christian values is my relationship with my parents, in teaching me the importance of having our faith with our marriage.
Kegan: So, what helped me in standing my ground in my Christian values is being honest with the people around me. Telling people, “Oh, I don’t do specific things, because I’m a member of the Church. I don’t go out drinking. I don’t do this.” Even to friends, I found it was better to tell your friends and have no friends after they, like, leave you or whatever, than have bad friends who try to influence you to be of the world and to do all the bad things that they’re doing. Those obviously not members of the Church Of Christ, and they don’t know, like, the proper way to serve God. So, that obedience to God was the most important thing to me.
Brother Felmar Serreno: Thank you very much, to the both of you, for sharing that. Communicating well with our parents, and communicating well with our friends and peers, right, helping them understand our beliefs—two great ways to ensure that we remain in our Christian values, no matter what society or the culture around us may do or say.
Alright, last follow up question for today: “Do you really think it makes all the difference to stay faithful to God’s design of marriage?”I guess what I’m asking is, by staying loyal to our Bible-based teachings in the Church, what do you believe this will do for your life and future together?
Kegan: It really makes a difference, because we followed God’s design for marriage, the aspect that we didn’t live-in together. We didn’t cohabitate and live in the same place.
And we went through the Bible lessons for marriage that taught us how important it was to, like, love each other and to care for one another, and to always respect one another. And those lessons really helped cement our marriage and our faith. Always choosing what God wants for you is always the right choice, because He knows what your future has in store. No one else knows that, not even you as a person knows that. God is who can help guide us in everything that we do.
Ailafaye: We believe to always follow in God’s teachings because, honestly, when you’re married you go through so many problems and difficulties. And a lot of the things that we learned through the counseling within the Church, and the teachings of marriage in the Church, has helped us get through and navigate throughout our lives as a married couple. And God will bless you if you do the right things. And that’s so important, especially with our business is that we know that if we are always obedient with God and following His teachings, then any trials and difficulties that happen to us, we can get through because we have the power to call upon Him in any problems that we may go through.
Brother Felmar Serreno: Okay. Thank you very much, Aila and Kegan, very well said. Thank you for your sincerity and your honesty in sharing with us what you have been through and the conviction that has resulted from staying true to our Bible-based teachings, you know, in spite of what the people around us or what society may say or think.
Again, like what you mentioned and what is based on the Holy Scriptures, when we choose to remain faithful to God, when we choose to make God happy, the blessings will make all the difference when it comes to not only your marriage, but also your dreams, also your ambitions in this life. So, we pray for your continued success and may God continue to bless all of the married couples out there.
Myrtle: Thank you for those Bible verses, Brother Felmar. We’re glad you’re here with us on Happy Life again to help all the married couples.
So, Kegan and Ailafaye, what would you say was the most challenging thing you faced trying to get your business off the ground?
Kegan: The most challenging things we found were, you know, trying to juggle married life as newlyweds and trying to start our business at the same time. We barely had time for each other with all of our duties. We’re trying to become deacon and deaconess [in] the Church. And I also [am] aspiring to be a CWS (Children’s Worship Service) teacher in the Church. So I had a lot of things going on and so did she, because she was a choir member. Now she’s going to be a deaconess.
Ailafaye: I agree with that. Honestly, when he said he wanted to start a new business I was afraid. I was really scared, because it’s a new thing. It’s something that you’re not familiar with. And similarly enough, we had to go through the challenges of being newlyweds as well as going through the challenges of having a new business, without knowing how to start up a new business. We were basically just relying on God to show us the way.
There’s a lot of times where life gets really hard, and in our wedding speech we were like, “Oh, it’s going to be so much fun because we get to travel and we get to have fun,” and then truthfully you’re hit with the fact that no, there’s bills now. You can’t travel, and that’s the reality. It’s not going to always be like how you see it in movies, that it’s going to be happy all the time. Sometimes it’s just having dinner together. You take moments like that, and being there and having your partner with you when you’re having a difficult time, having him remind me that, “It’s okay! We will get through this. Let’s just close our eyes. We’ll pray. We’ll get through this problem together.”
Myrtle: But you know in marriage now, and in your business aspirations, what do you pray for?
Kegan: So we pray for, obviously our business, that we are successful in that endeavor that we have. But we also pray that we stay united as a couple, and really fight for our faith, and never lose sight of what is most important to us, which is God. We also pray for our parents, because we see that they’re getting older and we have less and less time with them. Because we’re starting these businesses, getting to know what married life is like, we pray that God protects them as well as us. And then I pray for my family who isn’t in the Church yet. Even my immediate family, like my brother and my sister that aren’t in the Church yet, I always constantly pray that God will guide them to it.
Ailafaye: As husband and wife, of course it’s praying for the peace in our household. We pray that we can get the mindset and to be prepared for whatever comes our way, [and] to always love one another because that’s a big one. We also pray that we always have everything that we need in our life, and that I hope that God will prepare us one day to be parents, but of course in His timing. We’re not in a rush for that. We’d like to really enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other more.
Myrtle: Now, you know, you’re both members of the Church Of Christ. So how does having the same faith help you as newlyweds and in business planning?
Ailafaye: It’s really helped me a lot. I really can’t even imagine life without being a member of the Church Of Christ. We would always call Brother Ricky (Bravo) and say, “Hey, Brother Ricky, could we please hold a devotional prayer in the chapel?” Every morning, we would go rush over to the chapel. Things that are difficult to talk about, we tell God. Like they say during worship service, before you even let the words come out of your mouth, God already knows and God already has a solution for your problem.
Kegan: Right as soon as I started the business, I was like, “There’s no way, no way I’m going to be able to do this. I’m 21, I just got married, I’ve got all these bills. I don’t know what to do. And then I’d go and I’d pray, like, crying before God because I didn’t want to cry in front of my wife. Even though she’s your partner, you can’t express all those emotions out to her, but you know you can do it to God. My wife is the real reason why I keep pushing. Whenever I’m sad or anything, she’ll tell me, “Go pray. Go take a break. And remember that God is with you, and always put your trust and be patient.”
Myrtle: I couldn’t agree more with what Ailafaye advised you.
If you have any helpful advice to share with other young couples, you know, those who are at the right age, are financially stable, they’re mature in their faith, and also have their parents’ approval, and they’re thinking about marriage, what would you say to them?
Kegan: I would say what a minister of the Church Of Christ told me is, “Just do it. Go for it. What do you have to lose? Life on this earth is only temporary and as long as you do what God is asking you to do, and what is right before Him, He will bless you, and your future, and your family.” I would like to add, it’s difficult but worth it. There are a lot of times where you’re arguing, but at the end of the day you come together, before you go to bed, you don’t stay angry at each other, and you pray.
If you’re thinking of marriage, hopefully that means you found the person you’re meant to be with. But you’ve got to always, you know, add that into your prayers. “God is this who I’m supposed to be with? Is this the person that’s right for me?” And why wait till you’re old. Why wait 10, 15 years, 20 years, down the road to be like, “I’m going to marry this person.” Also pray that God will guide your decisions.
Myrtle: As young newlyweds, what are your hopes for the future?
Ailafaye: Truthfully, we just hope for a really bright future, because we don’t know what’s ahead of us. Like he said, you don’t know what’s going to happen five minutes from now, maybe even five years from now. You just have to be more prayerful about that stuff, because God already knows before you know. We also pray for success in our business, because truthfully our business is what provides for our family. We always want peace in serving God as well.
Kegan: Our hopes, as newlyweds, for the future is to be able to provide a good life for our kids with peace in our household, with love from one another and care in our families. And to achieve any goal that we decide to reach for, if it’s God’s will, we pray for success and we will achieve it.
Myrtle: You know, for a couple that is so young, those are such positive outlooks and I agree that continuing to put your faith and trust in God, while also continuing to serve Him, is the key.
So, Ailafaye and Kegan, thank you so much for joining us on Happy Life today and for sharing what, you know, newlywed life is like at such a young age and for also sharing what it’s been like trying to start your business.
Ailafaye: Thank you so much.
Kegan: Thank you for having us.
Myrtle: Starting your own business comes with its own challenges and demands, and becoming entrepreneurs, while also being very young newlyweds, can be difficult too. Making good decisions, regarding your marriage and your business, can only be done with the guidance of God by putting your utmost trust in Him.
And that brings us to the end of today’s episode. To learn more about Christian relationships, please visit incmedia.org. If you’d like to say hi, send us a question, or see who our newlywed guests are, you can visit our Instagram account: @happylife.podcast.
Please also remember to share our podcast with your family and friends and all the newlyweds that you know.
Thank you, from all of us here on the Happy Life team. We’re so glad you joined us today and hope we’ve all been reminded about the blessings of marriage.