Digital Reporter

Jia Morado, skipper of Ateneo de Manila University’s women’s volleyball team, has led the Lady Eagles to two championships and a bridesmaid finish at the UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament. Consequently, she’s acquired a legion of fans.

In the business world, however, she is a rookie.

She has barely spent a year running Pillow Play, whose products include the whimsical six‑piece Hamburger, where every layer is an individual pillow, and the Puzzle, a set of interlocking floor pillows.

The 21‑year‑old Psychology student is so new to the business in fact, that her aggregate fan pages have a larger following than her business fan page on Facebook, which, as of press time has 670 likes—a minuscule number compared to her hundreds of thousands.

Despite the discrepancy, Ms. Morado has faith in both her passions.

“Pillows have a potential to have a large market,” Ms. Morado believes. With the support of her boyfriend and schoolmate Miguel de Guzman, she started the business in May last year because she wanted to solve a problem: the need to relax in a dormitory. Pillows might be an afterthought to an ordinary person, but not for someone who leaps and squats and sets and runs and hurts her wrist on a daily basis.

And so, she jumped in—pouring in a capital of ₱80,000.


Art Erka Capili Inciong


Some might worry that a startup will spoil Ms. Morado’s good academic and athletic status, especially now that Ateneo is gunning to reclaim the crown it lost to rival La Salle last season.

But Ms. Morado knows that this venture beyond the six zones of a volleyball court is worth it.

“I’m learning a lot which is very important,” she said. “It helps me learn how to manage materials, labor costs, and inventory levels, among others. I also learn how to understand the market and adjust to their needs.”

And if there is a secret to juggling studies, sports and eventually pursuing her entrepreneurial goals, she said it’s time management.

“I try not to waste any time of the day. I finish my school requirements first, then focus on training, and squeeze the business in between with the help of my boyfriend,” she said. “Before, I would only think about my schoolwork and training, but now that I manage a small business, I have to start thinking about the operation of my business as well. I know this is something that would also help me beyond my career as a volleyball player, so I offer part of my time to it,” she added.

Jia Morado Pillow Play emoji

Art Erka Capili Inciong


As she eases into entrepreneurship, Ms. Morado finds the business world to be similar to the court.

“Like in volleyball, you can’t slack off,” she said. “You have to work hard and find ways to grow as a businessman.”

In the future, Ms. Morado plans to open more businesses that would “inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams,” while she continues her career as a volleyball player.

It sounds like a difficult thing to do—juggling big things all at once—but it’s a risk she’s willing to take.

After all, in the court, she plays for a team. That doesn’t change in business.

“Entrepreneurship is something that will definitely help you learn a lot and allow you to help others,” she said. “Especially in the Philippines [where] being an entrepreneur enables you to provide jobs to our countrymen.”

Photos were taken from Pillow Play’s social media pages.