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!
ART Clare Magno

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."


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.

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









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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Katherine Go 2 days ago

Cold Food

The most thrilling and delightful moment of any school day is opening up your baon during breaks. There is always so much excitement in unveiling your homemade meal and snacks housed inside matching heat-insulating containers. Because preparing packed meals is an age-old tradition of showing parental love, loved ones pour effort into curating a nutritious meal accompanied by a selection of side dishes, desserts, and beverages daily; it reminds us that we are being taken care of, even from far away.

Baon plays a significant role in a Filipino childhood. Almost every Filipino child comes to school with baon made especially for them by their parents or household helpers. Even Filipinos in the labor force continue to bring baon for varying reasons: to save money, recycle leftovers, cater to personal taste, or attend to special needs. Nonetheless, eating your baon is a heart-warming experience that allows Filipinos to bring a piece of home along with them wherever they go.

Even other cultures practice making packed lunch. In Japan, mothers create bento--Japanese meals in partitioned boxes. Because of the popularity of bento, trends have emerged, such as the Kyaraben, or character-themed bento. Naturally, Japanese parents and students began competing for who had the cutest and tastiest bento, and this is similar to what I have witnessed in my own childhood. I remember seeing my classmates sharing their snacks and lunches. They would compare and boast about their parents' or yayas’ cooking. In my case, I never had the chance to join in the competition or indulge in homemade cooking. Up until this day, I have never brought any baon to school.

For a long time, I envied others. As trivial or petty as it may seem, not having baon became a problem for my grade school self. During that time, I had to sit in a separate cafeteria away from my friends because the kids who bought food were assigned to sit elsewhere. You could consider me spoiled, but I wanted to experience something most kids did. I had food at home, so what made it so hard to bring some with me to school?

Now that I am on my final year in high school I have come to realize the benefits of purchasing my own food. Since I spent on food everyday, I learned to budget my allowance at a young age. Over the years, I learned to practice self-control whenever I wanted to eat more greasy fries and drink sweetened beverages. I have tasted the strangest viands at the school cafeterias, and I have repeatedly satiated myself over my latest delicious discoveries. Despite the struggles, I am thankful that I have never had baon because of what I have learned. Not to mention, I never had to experience eating cold food.

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