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    Have there been moments when you felt stuck and didn’t know how to move forward with your life? Sometimes you need someone who can hold space for you and guide you through life’s challenges – and a life coach can help you make the changes you need so you can live life in a way that’s authentic to you. Kimi Lu is a life and corporate coach who has been conducting private sessions and mindfulness workshops for the past 10 years. Trained at the Bennet Stellar University, she is a licensed Certified Master Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Neuro-Linguistic Hypnotherapy Life Coach, and Reiki Master Practitioner who has built a growing community of positively-charged beings she calls #protons.

    Here, she tells us what inspired her desire to become a life coach, her book on self-love and her newest program designed to boost your confidence.      

    What sparked your interest in pursuing life coaching? Was there a life-changing moment that inspired it?

    "I felt lost. In the middle of my regular work day, I found myself crying out of nowhere. Tears were just falling from my eyes. I couldn’t understand why and that made me reflect a lot about what was happening in my life. I felt empty inside. I didn’t think I had to see a doctor for it but I knew I had to talk to someone about it. I searched online for a life coach in the Philippines and couldn’t find one – and I had a crazy idea of becoming one because I knew that one day, someone else will feel the same way I did and they would need someone to talk to! This year is my 10th year of coaching people and helping them navigate through life's  challenges." 

     Kimi wearing the Loire necklace and Lush earrings

    Tell us about your early days as a life coach.

    "I got two strange looks each time I told people I was a life coach. I started in 2010 when life coaches were not popular at all and social media was not a coined word yet. So the first look they’d give me was a really confused look —- “huh, what’s that?” and the second look was —- “huh, how can you be a life coach, you’re so young?” I had to deal with those looks while trying to remain positive and build my self-esteem to hold on to my mission of helping people find their way through life."

     Kimi wearing the Loire necklace and Lush earrings

    "My first client was a dermatologist. We would meet at his house or at his clinic then I would meet other clients at the mall. That first client eventually offered me his spare clinic in Medical Plaza in Makati – I stayed there for 2 years. 50% of my clients in my first 3 years of practice were expats because I guess they were the ones familiar and open to seeking for help. Then after a while, there were more Filipinos coming to me and are more open to receiving guidance." 

    Kimi wearing the Ara bee necklace and Yani Afghan bead necklace

    How have you evolved as a life coach since you started?

    "I started with just face-to-face, one-on-one coaching. I thought that was all I was going to do in this career. Then I started doing small groups and eventually I expanded to Corporate Wellness or Essential Skills coaching. Currently, I also do global workshops and online coaching. I swear, the Universe is abundant that way! So many possibilities if we just think outside the box!"

    Kimi conducts her one-on-one sessions at the Protons HQ in Makati

    "Having my own space for my practice has also helped me immensely. I’ve lived in my Makati condo since I was 12 years old. When my parents moved to their home in Batangas and my brother got his own place, I decided to stay there and transformed it to what I call now as the #ProtonsHQ where I hold all my sessions."

    How did your book “Masturdating” come about?

    "It is an intentional guidebook to celebrate life. There are exercises inside, which will help people realize how wonderful life is and how much love they should be giving themselves before anyone else. The challenges in the book is a compilation of the top 29 challenges from my online program series for 5 years."

    Kimi's book "Masturdating" is all about self-love and is available on Amazon

    "Everyone was shocked when I announced that I was launching a book because I’m not a writer but I’m a big fan of experiential learning and that’s what the book really is. It is for you to experience little life boosts so that it may spark happiness inside of you!"  

    What do you love most about being a life coach?

    "Just seeing the spark in people’s eyes when they have an “aha!” moment or they feel good and see a glimmer of hope. It is a very fulfilling job and I am obsessed about it. I am addicted to teaching people how to love themselves authentically and deeply." 

    One of Kimi's healing modalities is reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing through the laying of hands. On Kimi: Calla heart lariat and Yani Afghan bead necklace


    What’s next for you?

    "I developed the #ConfidenceBoostProgram last year for one-on-one sessions. I’ve seen how the program’s graduates have progressed and taken huge leaps in just 4 weeks and I wanted more people to experience this! I came up with my first public workshop for the year, the #ConfidenceBoostProgram workshop."

    Kimi wearing the Como necklace 

    "I’ve been talking about setting an intention for the year because being intentional about your goals will help you gain direction and clarity – and this experiential workshop can help amplify that through active and guided meditations and exercises that can help you re-discover yourself. I have 3 special guests who will share their beautiful energy and gifts to empower and inspire all the attendees – it’s going to be a supercharged session full of positivity! I also have slots open for premium one-on-one sessions for those who prefer private coaching and who want to go deeper into their self-discovery journey."

    Kimi wearing the Como necklace and Nia earrings

    "I’m also boosting my Essential Skills training programs to make sure that more and more people learn to love their jobs, the people they’re working with and for, the clients and suppliers that they have. I want people to wake up on Monday mornings and be happy to work and make an impact in their own way!" 

    Follow Kimi: @kimilulifecoach

    Website: www.kimilulifecoach.com

    Photos by Kyle Quismundo (@kylequismundo)



    Kitty Bunag lives and breathes design – so much so that she sees the world in a grid. The interior design consultant and photographer, who is also co-founder of design and creative council Craftsmith Guild and travel brand Nomadic Tendencies, found purpose and healing in art – and believes that design is a platform for improving lives.

    We caught up with Kitty at Southbank Café + Lounge, one of her recent design projects, where we got a glimpse of her in action.  

    How did you discover your passion for design and photography?

    “I’ve always had the need for art in my life since I was young. I studied Interior Design in college then after college, I took on a corporate job but still practiced design on the side. I did everything all at once and reached a point of burn out so I had to choose which path I wanted to take."

    "I did business full-time in the recent years. I went into jewelry design in 2005 then I studied photography in 2008. I co-founded Craftsmith Living, now called Craftsmith Guild, with my cousin-in-law and business partner Mia de Lara, in 2013 and that’s when I decided to do photography and interior styling full-time. It’s really through Craftsmith that I evolved as a stylist and as a designer.”

    Kitty styles a holiday-themed table setting using pieces from Lady Scott Jones 

    How would you describe the role of art in your life?

    “I lost my parents at an early age. When my mom died, that was the time when I really focused on space design and styling. When my dad died, that’s when I took up photography. And then after my dad died, I had a miscarriage and that was around the time Craftsmith Living started. I really turned to art for healing."

    Kitty wearing a stack of Zahava and Dahna bracelets

    "They say when you have kids, you might not be able to do all the things you want to do but it’s the complete opposite for me. Everything happened when had children – they’re my lucky charms.”

    Kitty wearing the Eyla earrings with the Celeste beaded necklace and Nolee multi-charm necklace 

    How would you describe your aesthetic?

    “I call it un-styled or lived in. I want spaces to look authentic as if it’s well-lived in as opposed to being overly styled or decorated. I gravitate towards natural materials like wood, abaca and even rust as well as weathered-looking pieces. Not necessarily rustic but things that can give warmth to modern pieces and cold structures.”

    Kitty wearing the Amya earringsOdette 3-layer necklace and a stack of Femi and Ostara bracelets 

    “The principles that I apply when I design spaces come from my interior design and photography background, and the same ones apply: playing with color, texture, patterns, the rule of thirds, symmetry. And yes, they merge. When I conduct my workshops, I always say I see the world in a grid.”

    What was your vision when you designed Southbank’s interiors?

    “Southbank is founded by a group of friends so it had to feel like their playground. It’s Melbourne-inspired so it’s a mix of industrial, botanical and a bit of mid-century modern. When I design something, especially for a client, it must be about them. But my personal touch would somehow come out in terms of how I cozy pieces up together.”

    What are you currently working on?

    “I‘m currently teaching a certificate course on Event Design at SoFa Design Institute. Aside from that, we’re working closely with DTI-CITEM and different companies all over the Philippines. We’re doing product development, design and styling for the upcoming Ambiente 2020, a trade fair that will be held in Germany. The Philippines will be participating there and will occupy 2 big halls. We are helping DTI-CITEM to position the country in the global market through art and design. These are mostly SMEs but we’re also working with big companies who are already into exporting.”

    Kitty goes maximalist with the Alaina earringsStamp Monogram necklace, Lyra statement chain, and Adela beaded necklace

    “I find this project fulfilling because it has a long-term effect not just on these small businesses but also to the country as a whole. Design, no matter what form, must improve lives – the end-user and the creator – and this has always been my philosophy. And I see that with what we’re doing for this project.”

    Handling multiple projects must take a toll on you. How do you recharge?

     “I travel to unplug. I go on solo trips from time to time to recalibrate. Bali is a current favorite.”

    What’s your advice to creatives who want to pursue different passions?

    "Everything about design is intertwined. The disciplines of one creative pursuit, no matter how small, can be applied to the next."

    Kitty wearing the Emeline earrings, Celeste multi-colored necklace, and Margot necklace 

    "Wherever you are, whatever you do, take what’s good. Pursue, struggle for and live for what inspires you."

    Follow Kitty: @kwittyb

    Follow Craftsmith Guild: @craftsmithguild

    Photography by Kitty Bunag & Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo)  

    Shot on location at Southbank Cafe + Lounge (@southbankcafelounge

    Casa Mamas

    Casa Mamas

    To our mommy followers: have you always wanted to travel with your fellow moms minus the kids? Take inspiration from Aliza Apostol, Carmel Villongco, Deux Ciel Bau, Gin Samson, Kat Maderazo, and Leona Panutat aka Casa Mamas who give us a glimpse of their recent trip to Frangipani El Nido. Here, they tell us how their little group was formed and share their tips on looking fab while traveling.

    Tell us a how Casa Mamas was formed.

    Leona: “We all live in the same village and would see each other at mass or other community events. Living in the same community, we decided to carpool to and from events. We got to know one another more and found out that we had a lot in common. We then started taking turns hosting for breakfast and the rest is history.”

    Carmel: “I’ve known almost all of them individually, either through common friends or having done their make-up in the past but it was after our first community wine night (yes, we have that in our village) where we all clicked. Wine really does bring people together.”

    Aliza: “One wine night turned to several and we all bonded in an instant. We all have different personalities that complemented each other.” 

    Describe your personal style in 3 words.

    Aliza: “Summer, chic, and polished.”

    Aliza wearing the Posie earrings 

    Carmel: “Quirky and lots of black with a pop of color.”

    Carmel wearing the Meadow earrings

    Deux: “Functional and simple.”

    Deux wearing the Suki earrings and the Marcia necklace

    Gin: “Classic, neutral, and easy-going.”

    Gin wearing the Rixa earrings

    Kat: “Classic, timeless, and comfortable.”

    Kat wearing the Malika necklace

    Leona: “Easy, relaxed, timeless.”

    Leona wearing the Kari earrings

    What type of accessories are you drawn to? What are your jewelry staples?

    Aliza: “I like jewelry that represents myself like a monogram necklace or a birth stone ring.  I am also drawn to pieces with a tropical vibe because I love the beach.”

    Aliza's beach look: straw hat, a stack of bracelets and the Posie earrings

    Carmel: “I spend a lot on eyewear, whether shades or prescription glasses. I’ve always had poor eyesight and since I’m stuck with wearing glasses, I might as well pick those that fit my personal style. I’m also into head and hair accessories. Turbans, bandanas, and hats are all part of my wardrobe. For fine jewelry, I usually just have my wedding band on. I like to keep it to a minimum since I already have so much going on in my outfit. Plus, my work as a make-up artist keeps me from having too much arm candy.”

    Carmel's beach look: emerald green swimwear, oversized sunnies, printed turban and Meadow earrings

    Deux: “I like accessorizing with a simple set of necklace and earrings, alongside an oversized watch and my Fitbit. My everyday jewelry would be my wedding ring, watch, and pearl earrings.”

    Deux wearing the Suki earrings and the Marcia necklace

    Gin: “Jewelry staples include pearl earrings or a stud, gold initial necklace, and rings on both hands. Every so often, I would wear a statement necklace or bracelet.”

    Gin's picks: Rixa earrings and Corina necklace

    Kat: “I am drawn to small accessories that can be interchanged like charms, pendants, bracelets and rings. I like them even if I don’t wear them a lot. I usually have a ‘flavor of the month’ or season and then I would change into a different set. My staples are silver, white gold and pearl earrings.”  

    Kat wearing the Darla earrings

    Leona: “I like accessories that have interesting little details. Tiny etchings, contrasting stones and textured finishes. If I’m not in good earrings by Heyjow, I’m wearing classic diamond studs. I also wear a stack of rings on both hands that remind me of my family.”

    Leona's pick: the Armina necklace in black

    Any packing and style hacks you can share when traveling?

    Aliza: “One thing for sure is I don’t pack light. I’m the type of person who brings 5 pairs of shoes for a 4-day beach trip! I usually pack my OOTDs based on the places I go to.”

    Aliza's wearing the Posie earrings for her all-white beach look

    Carmel: “I just bring essentials and do layering with thermals and probably bring one or two coats if it’s the winter season. When people look at my photos, it seems like I do take on a lot but I really just wear mostly black with a pop of color. My fave hack is bringing a lot of shades and a good selection of lipstick to add dimension and fun to an otherwise boring black outfit.”

    Carmel's beach essentials include shades and her stash of Dior make-up 

    Deux: “When going on trips, I match outfits on a per day basis and take photos of each set for easy reference. For packing, zip lock bags are the next best thing if no packing cubes are available.

    Gin: “Weather is the most important factor— you should know what to expect. I like basics then layer with jackets and scarves. If it’s a 2-week trip or longer, I plan outfits for at least 7 days and bring pieces I would be able mix and match. I’ve learned to pack light, bringing more neutrals and basics then adding statement pieces for special days or events.”

    A peek at Gin's travel essentials 

    Kat: “For trips, I plan accessories per outfit per day. When I need to pack light, I make sure the accessories I bring will match the other outfits. I pack them individually in a small accessory pouch so it’s safe and yet easy to find.”

    Leona: “I pack light! I list down the itinerary per day along with the expected weather report and plan my outfits around those two. I also make sure to space out the clothes and combinations by including laundry days. I’ve been known to make spreadsheets!”

     Leona's essentials include her Fuji camera and a couple of paperbacks 

    What are your travel must-haves?

    Aliza: “Aside from my phone, I cannot travel without my moisturizer, my flat iron and dry shampoo. You have to be picture ready at all times - even for breakfast!”

    Aliza wearing the Cabra earrings from our Gold Coast collection

    Carmel: “Aside from my selection of shades, black foldable flats which I wear when my sneakers aren’t allowed in a place and it doubles as my slippers, too. I also bring my insulated water bottle because I drink a lot of water and like it icy cold all the time. It’s practical and helps our environment, too. I also bring my traveling Bible for my quiet time.”

    Carmel wears a vibrant one-piece suit with a hoop necklace from the Nayeli set

    Deux: “A large carry-on tote is a traveling must-have for me. I use this to easily stash small and loose items like sunglasses, jacket or scarf while I’m on the go.”

    Gin: “Two to three pairs of shades, scarves, hats, statement accessories, pocket Wi-Fi, eyebrow pencil and lipstick, and a comfy pair of shoes or slides.”

    Kat: “Sunglasses, sunblock, anti-bug bites lotion, reusable bag, and a shawl or jacket.”

    Kat wearing the Dayla necklace in Magenta

    Leona: “My camera, phone, noise-cancelling headset, a good book and a huge block print scarf that can be used as a blanket, dress, cover up and beach mat.”

    What’s the best part of your #GirlfriendsGetaway?

    Aliza: “I am in my element when I’m at the beach. The sun is my best friend, the waves my ally and the breeze my comfort. So, to go on a trip with my Casa Mamas to beautiful El Nido is heaven to me.”

    Gin: “To be able to have fun, relax, let our ‘mommy guard’ down knowing it’s a safe and understanding environment where we can focus on ourselves and indulge in our own lives without distraction.”

    Leona: “Heart-to-heart talks and non-stop laughter.”

    Follow Aliza: @mustlovemom

    Follow Carmel: @carmelsparkle

    Follow Deux: @hey_deux

    Follow Gin: @ginsamson 

    Follow Kat: @iamkatmaderazo

    Follow Leona: @leonapanutat



    California native Amber Folkman aka A Momma Abroad has been living in the Philippines with her family for the past decade – and she has found a way to turn daily Filipino life into creative inspiration. #PerksofPinas is a community hashtag that celebrates all the good things about living in the Philippines, which has evolved into tailored workshops for people who are seeking positivity, particularly those who are still trying to navigate their way around Manila.  

    Amber shows us around her colorful home and shares with us her insights on building an online community.

    Tell us how ‘A Momma Abroad’ started.

    “I started ‘A Momma Abroad’ in 2015. I started it because we had just moved from our old neighborhood, where a lot of foreigners and expats were living, to Pasig. I didn’t know anyone and my friends whom I hung out with were gone so decided I was going to find all the great things in our new neighborhood."

    Amber wearing the Belarus earrings with the Darazi necklace set

    "I also wanted to show my family back home what our life was like in the Philippines so I began with sharing the places I found on Instagram. It keeps evolving into what it is – I grow with it and hopefully it will just keep getting better.”

    “'A Momma Abroad’ is not a parenting blog. I’m not your person for parenting advice but I am your person for activities to do with your family and loving the place where you live.”

    Amber wearing the Jasmine earrings

    Have you always been interested in arts and handicrafts?

    “I have always enjoyed arts and crafts. Sewing was one of my favorite ways to create. I wasn’t particularly gifted with painting and drawing so I really enjoyed decorating my bedroom and sewing clothes, toys and odd-and-end projects. Since living in the Philippines, I’ve been amazed at the local arts and crafts. I realized I had all these amazing finds at my fingertips – I just needed to go out and find them."

    Amber's home is filled with local handicrafts and colorful weaves

    "As I began decorating and feeling attached to these local handicrafts and textiles as well as their makers, I felt more indebted to the community and the Philippines. I felt an actual attachment to the Philippines and that’s why I’m a big supporter of decorating with local finds. Every time you see an inabel blanket, you feel a positive emotion about it and then you feel positive about where you’re living.”

    Amber loves decorating with vibrant pieces like this yellow inabel tablerunner and 'sari-sari store' pillowcase  

    What’s one place you’ve visited in the Philippines that has inspired you?

    “Some of the most inspiring places I’ve visited are the different weaving communities in Ilocos. Two years ago, we did an Ilocos Norte tour and we went to 4 different communities and it was so inspiring to see local woman use their talent and skills to create beautiful textiles.”

    Amber wearing the Arenas earrings with a conch shell necklace

    Do your travels inspire your DIY projects?

    “I do believe that my travels and living in a different country inspires the way I decorate my home. I’m drawn to cultures and countries that have vibrant colors. I’m also drawn to people that are warm and friendly and that’s why I feel very comfortable living in the Philippines – I really feel at home."

    "When I do travel to a new region or even a new part of Manila, I love discovering a local find and bringing it back and incorporating it in my home. I love textiles and I appreciate getting pieces from places I haven’t traveled to or where I hope to travel to.”

    Amber DIY'd these walls by her home office where you can find books and baskets of different sizes

    “I collect mobiles from all my different travels, most recently from Myanmar and Cambodia, which I hang in my children’s room. They add an element of design to our home that reminds that we’re not just from one country but we’re part of an entire world. Another element that inspires me in my DIY projects is color. I like having white walls as a blank canvas then adding something bright and vibrant around it.”

    Inside the kid's playroom 

    Mobiles from different countries can be found in the kid's play area

    Can you tell us what inspired #PerksofPinas?

    “I wanted to narrow down what my dominant voice was with ‘A Momma Abroad’ and our online community was really supportive of sharing my perspective on finding daily magic. As a community, we decided on this hashtag #PerksofPinas and that was to help us look for the positive things whether it’s on your walk home to and from school or at your palengke and you see a really pretty walis tambo. I was at a wet market in Kamuning and I saw these beautiful brooms woven in bright colors. We don’t have beautiful brooms in America. That is a perk of Pinas. That is beauty and daily magic that can be specifically attributed to the Philippines.”  

    Amber wearing the Sundari necklace

    “Whether it’s a Manileno or a foreigner, sometimes people have a hard time living in Manila. We can have a list of all the things that are frustrating about Manila but let's not forget about all the great things about Manila, too. The ‘Perks of Pinas’ workshop is to get people together and look at the skills they already have to find these daily bits of magic and actually love where they live."

    "There’s a term in environmental psychology called ‘place attachment’ and it’s the relationship you have with your place and I’m fascinated by it. You do these tiny experiments to help create a positive relationship with where you live. ‘Perks of Pinas’ is a space where we teach that. We give them a positive perspective and help them see that Manila is a liveable city and that they can find happiness here.”

    Amber wearing the Sundari necklace with the Nueva earrings

    Will you be having a new workshop soon?

    “I have a new workshop coming up in June called ‘Celebrate Perks of Pinas Gracefully’. That will be around the same week as Philippine Independence Day. It will be about celebrating all the uniquely Filipino things that we have here like arts and crafts and cultural practices like pasalubong."

    Amber wearing the Belarus earrings, Mitara necklace and Vieques ring

    "Gift-giving is my love language and when I hear this term from Filipinos, I feel that I understand them and they understand me. I’m also working on a super secret project for people who can’t come to the workshops or for those who need some type of support to help you find #PerksofPinas daily, which will be done by the end of the year. Until then, Instagram is a great place to connect with other people who are part of this community.”

    What are your top 3 #PerksofPinas?

    “Number one, endless summer. I don’t like cold weather. I’ll be happy even if I never see snow again. My second one is the people. The Philippines really is unique and Filipinos are generally warm, friendly and happy. I love that they are family-centered. My third #PerksofPinas that I’m sure no one is surprised about is suman. I love it and I can eat it any time of the day.”

    What’s your advice to people like you who started out with a blog that evolved into a community?

    “Don’t be a know-it-all. When you have a community, you might be a facilitator, in some cases you might be the torch-bearer, but you’re never better. Whatever you want to share, be equally as open to receiving that knowledge. I have learned so much and I never want people to think that I’m telling them ‘You should love this, you should do this, you should buy this.’ I just want to share a perspective of positivity and have others share that with me. As much as you are the facilitator, the leader or the sharer, also be the student and learn from your community.”

    “Just be real. Be wise about it and hold a space for other people to also be that. People need to see more of that online and it goes a really long way. When you are truly who you are and you present yourself that way, there’s nothing to hide and be unsure of.”

    Amber wearing the Boca earringsSundari necklace and Vieques ring

    “Also, make art every day. Do something creative every day. I am a terrible artist – I can’t draw but I buy art books that help me draw every day. I’m not good at it but I love it. If you're someone who has a career or a role that dominates a lot of your time – let’s say you’re a parent or you’re working in a call center all night – if creativity speaks to your soul, keep a little bit of that for yourself. Do something that ignites that creativity within your soul even if it’s just drawing something that takes 10 seconds or cooking something with a new ingredient.”

    Follow Amber: @amommabroad

    Photography by Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo) 

    Amina and Rosanna

    Amina and Rosanna

    Aranaz is known for its iconic statement bags proudly made of traditional Filipino materials – and now the brand is about to celebrate its 20th year in the industry with an exciting new clothing line in the works.

    Sisters Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Rosanna Aranaz share with us how their family fashion brand has evolved into an international name that evokes a leisurely lifestyle and how social media has helped them expand to the global market.

    How did the brand start?

    Amina: “It started because our mom had a manufacturing and export company and when I was in college, at that time Rosanna was still in grade school, we thought of selling our mom’s products in Christmas bazaars. It was a really fun family endeavor – Rosanna and I, along with our brother and our mom, would do the setting up and selling ourselves and that bazaar was so successful. After a year, we thought of creating our own brand since our mom won’t have extra bags all the time for us to sell and decided to name it after our family. And now, the brand is celebrating 20 years this year.”

    Amina wearing the Pierra necklace

    How has the brand evolved since then?

    Amina: “In terms of developing the brand, it was really an evolution because there was a time that we just saw it as a family fashion brand. All we knew 20 years ago was that we were a family fashion brand that created products showcasing Filipino materials. That was it. To evolve into a more definitive direction that represents a resort or leisurely lifestyle only happened in the recent years.”

    Aranaz bucket bags from their Geo Garden collection

    “We made a conscious decision to take that position. I remember when our brother was still involved with the brand, he kept trying to drill us through a branding exercise because his background was in advertising. At that time, I didn’t fully understand what those concepts meant. It’s only in the recent years that I understood what he meant about how to have a strong brand positioning.”

    Amina wearing the Rocasa earrings

    “Back then, we didn’t want to lock ourselves in one box and say that we are just a summer brand. Now, we realize we are not just a summer brand just because we occupy the leisurely space. There are different ways in the future that we can expand that space.”

    Aside from bags, Aranaz also has home and lifestyle items such as plates and cup and saucer sets

    Statement pineapple purses

    What are your roles and how have these evolved with the company?

    Rosanna: “I handle our international sales so this began when we started doing all our trade shows abroad and we started getting more international attention. I handle all the buyers and international sales orders from all the different boutiques. I also handle branding and IT."

    Rosanna with the Alana bucket bag and the Marjoram necklace set  layered with her own name necklace

    "Our brand is still very small so we tend to do a lot of things on our own. For example, we still do our website ourselves. We have our own studio for our product shots. We’re very hands-on when it comes to the design of our store windows and interiors.”

    The Aranaz store in Powerplant Mall is one of their three local branches 

    Rosanna wearing the Curva necklace set layered with her own name necklace

    Inside the Aranaz store in Powerplant Mall

    Amina: “Rosanna also handles the graphics because she’s more skilled than me in creating visuals. I think it’s because she’s younger so she knows how to create an image that is more now and speaks to a younger audience. Many times, especially when it comes to imagery such as coming up with a look book or curating our Instagram feed, I’ll ask her for her opinion on how it can appeal to millenials. Even if our brand does cater to a certain market, we always want to move younger.”

    Amina wearing the Quita choker with a clam shell necklace from the Montesa set

    Bucket bags from Aranaz's latest collection called Tiki Seashell

    Amina: “Before, I was just purely on the design side. My mom was very involved before so there was a time when my mom was managing everything because we were in school and I was building SoFA Design Institute. When I had the time to be more involved in Aranaz, that’s when my mom focused solely on the production side. Aside from designing, I’m also managing the business as a whole.”

    What does a typical work day look like for you?

    Rosanna: “Both of us are from the south so we don’t always go to the office. We don’t really schedule things together because we’re always chatting on iMessenger and Whatsapp anyway. I can do a lot of my work at home so I can just call or text her. There are no set hours for us.”  

    Amina wearing disc and puka shell layers from the Taveuni set; Rosanna wearing the Kazari 3-layer necklace

    Amina: “A lot of our planning happens through our phones. This morning, I woke up with an idea and I messaged her about it. So we have a new project for the brand, which we came up with while having breakfast. That’s how it works. When we do decide to meet at the office, it’s also when I set meetings with the rest of the team. Generally, she’s at the office more often than me because I also have to go to SoFA.”

    Tell us more about your latest collection.

    Amina: “When I was creating it, I really wanted it to evoke a more raw and natural feel. I wanted it to be a celebration of summer and the feeling of being at the seaside. Initially, I wanted it all in natural – sand-colored and straw complemented with the texture from the seashells and woven seaside animals. That was my first set of designs. I wanted to see if I can push it that way. But when other people started seeing the collection, I knew I couldn’t do a full natural collection and that’s when I injected some color.”

    Kaia bucket bags in natural and yellow and the Merida clutch

    Left: the fully embroidered Naya clutch made of tinalak and raffia

    “It’s called the Tiki Seashell collection. It has a bit of a Hawaiian feel because of the fringes. One of the first bags that I designed, which I consider a pillar of the collection, is the Stella bucket with 3 levels of fringes that call to mind a hula skirt. I added wicker starfish on it because I imagined it as a hula girl with a starfish-shaped bra top."

    The Raia bucket made with abaca and raffia

    How was your experience with expanding into the international market?

    Rosanna: “We are lucky because we are in the age of Instagram. In fact, one of our first accounts discovered us through our Instagram profile. We managed to tap other boutiques as well as international publications all through social media so we are very thankful for that. When we saw the reception of the international market, we took a brave step and tried joining trade shows. We joined trade shows in Paris and New York and it’s going to be our third season this year. We were very nervous during our first season but it was received well and we managed to get several accounts through that.”

    Rosanna wearing the Marjoram necklace set  layered with her own name necklace

    Amina: “From the very start, the big dream was for Aranaz to be an international Filipino fashion brand but we didn’t know how to do it. We’re a 20-year old brand but we were only able to penetrate the international market in the last 3 years. Social media was what opened it up for us. Prior to that, we really didn’t know how to do it. There aren’t a lot of success stories in the fashion industry that we could refer to or consult with. Many times, it was all self-discovery with hits and misses.”

    “What we’d always hear from other Filipino designed brands that go international is that we have to join trade shows and be visible even if we don’t get orders during the first season.”

    Rosanna: “We also joined some shows that we thought would be good for us. I guess it’s really knowing what kind of trade show you should be joining instead of joining whatever lands your way.”

    Rosanna wearing the Kazari necklace set and Vivero earrings

    Amina: “There were a couple of trade shows that we joined 3 times but we didn’t get a single order. But we persisted because we kept hearing that we need to continue. There’s no formula on how to go international. One of the main factors for us was taking that first step and deciding that we will do it.”

    What’s the best thing about working together?

    Amina: “I think we have the same vision and the same work groove. I know I can text her something work-related even at midnight.”

    Rosanna: “Well, we were brought up by the same mother so we have the same way of thinking. We understand the brand and we know exactly what we want for it so in a way we get each other when it comes to the brand. Like this morning, she just had to name something and I could already envision it without her having to expound on it.”

    What are your plans for Aranaz this year?

    Amina: “We are trying to launch a clothing line this year to be sold in our stores. We want to do a trial run for the local market. Also, we hope to celebrate our 20th year towards the last quarter of the year.”

    Amina wearing the Halma single necklace layered with a disc necklace

    What are some of the self-care rituals that help you relax?

    Rosanna: “I love getting a foot spa or a foot massage and getting my hair done. I like to sleep early. I sleep at 9pm. I like to travel, too. For me, that’s the best way to unwind.”

    Rosanna wearing Heyjow statement earrings exclusively available at Aranaz 

    Amina: “I like to have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. One thing that I also make time for is getting a facial. I don’t get to do it as often as I can and when I do, that whole day becomes my self-care day.”

    Amina wearing the Rocasa earrings

    What are your tips for aspiring designers and those who want to tap the international market?

    Amina: “One is you have to define your creative voice. Try to see what you’re doing differently and how it can be relevant and attractive to the international market. I still believe that it helps to look into Filipino culture - see how you can take elements from it then modernize it when you create your position in the fashion market.”

    Rosanna: “Be brave and don’t be afraid to take a risk. Even if your first buyer rejects you or your email to a department store is left unanswered, don’t let that discourage you.”

    Amina: “When we started this entire journey of making Aranaz international, we created a wish list of stores where we want our products to be. We didn’t know how to reach some of them but we were able to put checks on that list.”

    Rosanna: “Sometimes everything just falls into place.”

    Amina: “I think it’s important to visualize it and be concrete about what you want, and of course, pray for it and ask for guidance. I really believe that when you’re able to concretize and talk about your dreams, that’s how it can come true.”

    Follow Aranaz: @aranaz_ph

    Follow Amina: @aminaaranaz

    Follow Rosanna: @rosannaaranaz

    Photography by Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo)