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A Young Star in Business and Giving Back

Carmela Moreno's amazing journey began in the Philippines, right in front of a computer screen. When she was just four years old, her parents put her in front of a computer, and she started playing around with Photoshop. She learned it by exploring shapes and clicking on different functions, even before she knew how to read properly. With an innate talent for Photoshop, she transformed photographs in her parents' photography studio, removing backgrounds and enhancing faces, her young fingers working magic on each image.


By six, Carmela's entrepreneurial spirit had already ignited. She ventured into the world of commerce, selling cupcakes and candies at her school during recess. Her tiny business venture was a hit, with classmates eagerly awaiting her delicious treats.


By the age of nine, Carmela had developed a passion for photojournalism. She took photos that told stories and won awards at big meetings for her unique storytelling skills. When she was eleven, Carmela had become really good at creating newspapers and magazines. She competed in big competitions and impressed everyone with her talents. Carmela was also smart with her money. She used what she earned to start selling cosmetics, tapping into what people wanted to buy.


At thirteen, she helped out with her parents' hotel and wedding venue. Carmela had a natural talent for planning and making weddings look beautiful and memorable. By the age of fourteen, she had learned how to secure big contracts for her parents' business. She was so skilled that she helped them earn over 40 million pesos through finding them government projects and doing the paperwork for bidding and procurement.


When she turned fifteen, Carmela began to give back. She used her own money to feed and educate kids basic English and Math in a rural community in the Philippines for 2 years and even built a special prayer garden in their community church. Between the ages of 15 to 17, she took charge of her school’s yearbook. She managed to include over 2,000 students and teachers and got the support of 4,000 sponsors.


At sixteen, Carmela was recognized nationally, received the highest national award for a girl scout and named the Chief Girl Scout of the Philippines in 2017, an honor that acknowledged her leadership skills.


Throughout high school, Carmela maintained an A+ average, graduating with High Honors in Business at 17. Her academic excellence was further highlighted by the publication of two research papers: "Financial Literacy of High School Students" and "A Feasibility Study of a Franchise".


During the pandemic, Carmela played a pivotal role in her parents' hotel and wedding business. Her marketing strategies through social media led to the venue hosting 172 weddings in 2020, a remarkable achievement given the global crisis.


At the same time, she found a gap and demand in the market and started an online business with just 150 Pesos and grew it to 300,000 Pesos in six months, selling pandemic essentials like masks, alcohol, soap and laptop accessories for online classes and work from home professionals.

At nineteen, Carmela moved to Canada for her studies in Business Accounting. Her parents only paid for her tuition fee and she needed to finance herself living expenses. To support herself, she worked as a cashier in a grocery store, enhancing her English skills as she talks to a lot of customers everyday, and simultaneously managed three jobs: as an early morning shelf stocker at Michaels, a barista at Starbucks, and a printing assistant at Algonquin College.


In October 2021, she co-founded Grande Decor Inc. with her partner Noam. They started the company in their apartment only with the resources they have - a credit card with a $3,000 limit, Carmela’s skills, and Noam’s hard work. Her company gained fame when Amazon commissioned them in her first year of business to create a huge 25ft high balloon arch for the opening of their largest building in Ottawa, coinciding with her 21st birthday, September 7, 2022.


By 21, Carmela had completed a diploma in Business Accounting from Algonquin College. Prestige Magazine of UK recognized her as the Youngest Established Wedding Planner, having orchestrated over 400 weddings across the globe. Her company catered to high-profile clients, including celebrities like Jaya (Philippines Queen of Soul) and Beto Perez (Founder of Zumba), and major brands like Amazon, Maserati, AIG, and Parliament of Canada. In 2023, Carmela also acquired Wedding In A Box Canada, formerly owned by RSVP Events, further expanding her business empire.


Recently nominated for the 2024 Ottawa Awards as Wedding Planner of the Year, Carmela continues to make headlines. Featured in Prestige magazine, Faces Magazine, and on Rogers TV Daytime Ottawa, she's a source of inspiration.


Now, as the founder and leader of the Youth Entrepreneur Society (YES) Ottawa, Carmela Moreno is not just a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist; she's a role model, educating and mentoring young entrepreneurs, echoing her remarkable journey of ambition, innovation, and compassion.


Watch Carmela's TV Interview

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