As a child, Amina Aranaz-Alunan spent all her summers working in her mother’s bag factory that it seemed natural for this style maven to take over the business one day.
And in 1999, she did take over Aranaz.
But despite knowing the business like the back of her hand, Amina admits that she found it hard to identify and break into the local market because the family business initially operated as an exporter. [See three businesses that made it big in the metro here]
“I’ve always believed in our products, but we have a very select group of clients back then. The appeal it has on our foreign buyers might not work here,” she says.
As the new kid in the local bag industry and a fairly “unknown” brand at that, breaking through the mold scared Amina. “I wasn’t sure on who to tap or where to go to market our bags,” she shares.
All these questions were eventually answered in late 1998, after her brother Miguel made incredibly huge sales from selling their export overruns to his classmates in Ateneo de Manila University. The timing was perfect since her brother’s buyers were purchasing the bags to give as Christmas gifts. [See tips on managing friends and families in business here]
So from 1999 to 2003, Amina decided to expand the enterprise and explore different markets in Manila, without necessarily having set up shop in malls and going mainstream. It was a branding tactic, she explains.
At that time, Aranaz bags could only be found in upscale Christmas bazaars. The brand had gained quite a following that at one point, they were invited by The City Golf Plaza in Pasig City to become an in-house brand.
“We want our brand to be known while remaining ‘exclusive’. In other words, we want buyers to specifically look and request for our items. Although we might come off as a little elitist, the company and the brand are not discriminating. In fact, we involve peoples from different walks of life in the business,” she says. [See seven factors that make or break a business here]
Page 2: Partnership with Rajo