How I Started: Alt Manila

Aimee Pua shares with us how she and her friends bridged the gap between fast fashion and luxury bags with Alt Manila!
by Janelle Yau   |  Oct 23, 2016
Art: Clare Magno
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They say that you haven't really made it until you've gotten your first designer bag. But designer bags and their hefty price tags aren't exactly the most accessible mix for a college girl. Recognizing the college girl's need for a fashionable and functional handbag without breaking the bank, Aimee Pua along with two of her friends decided to bridge the gap between fast fashion and luxury brands, and created Alt Manila.

How it started. "Alt Manila started when two of my friends and I had a casual talk about nice bags that we don't see in the market. We felt that the market was missing a bag brand that's stylish, not mass produced, sturdy, and wouldn't break the bank, too. We wanted to fill the gap between fast fashion and luxury bags. So, we decided to create something that we've always wanted, but couldn't find."

Why Alt Manila? "We all love bags in the team! We also realized that carrying the right bag can really make the biggest difference—it has the power of making or breaking an entire outfit."

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Young entrepreneur. "Being a young entrepreneur is both exciting and scary.

Starting the brand is usually the exciting part, but sustaining the business is where you get tested to power through.

You need to have a plan. Getting from vision to reality takes courage and determination to push through days of non-inspiration."

Drawing inspiration. "That's where family, friends, and a lot of brainstorming help. We are very lucky to have supportive family and friends. We definitely draw our inspiration from them."

Team work. "Working in a group is like learning to dance. You learn how each part moves, improves, and what best works altogether. As friends with different expertise, we complement each other. Openness and communication are also key. We each share our ideas, then spend time collaborating to turn our three different ideas into the big idea. Being good friends also allow us to be more transparent and more honest with each other about our ideas and opinions on everything."


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Little challenges. "As an entrepreneur? Getting organized. It's tough to put the systems in place and to be focused. There will be a lot of ideas and you’d get so excited that you'd want to do everything all at once. Not everything is feasible and executable."

Staying original. "I guess it's our combination as a team that makes us different and our unique viewpoints work for us, too. We each infuse a bit of ourselves into the designs we choose and always ask, 'Would I want this bag for myself?'"


What's next? "We are looking at expanding to retail stores and dropping more styles, too!"

To young budding entrepreneurs. "As an entrepreneur, there will always be moments of fear, anxiety and self-doubt. Leaving your career and deciding to start anew, and build a brand is always going to be scary. You will always find reasons not to do it, but when you find yourself constantly wondering and thinking “what if,” you know it’s time to go for it."


There is really no time for simply waiting around. Dare to begin.

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How I Started: Polly
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Know any young entrepreneurs? Leave a comment below and you just might see them on the site next week!

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About the author
Janelle Yau
Fashion and Beauty Assistant
The Rebecca Bloomwood of Manila. I spend half of my time obsessing about the latest fashion craze, and the other half overthinking and over-analyzing just about anything under the sun. When I’m not busy as a bee playing with fifty shades of pink lippies, you can probably catch me swiping my plastic for yet another pair of shiny, pointed gold flats.
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