Fashion

This 23-Year-Old Turned Her Love for Bags Into a Biz

From shopaholic to productive in a snap!
IMAGE Mon Sac | instagram.com/shopmonsac

For most people, being a shopaholic can be a cause of all sorts of problems—from being a hoarder to being in debt—yikes! But Reeham Afdal, a self-confessed bagaholic turned her love for new bags into a business and managed to turn her love for shopping into something productive. Find out how she started Mon Sac and get inspired to turn your passions into an actual biz.

When it started. I started Mon Sac, which is French for "my bags" in January 2017."

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How it started. "Before starting my brand, I was actually already selling my designs to my family and friends. When my family and I saw that there were people with an actual interest in my bags, my dad suggested that I take my business online, which paved the way for Mon Sac."

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Why Mon Sac? "At first, I really wanted to start a service-oriented business, but I didn't know where to begin. So I asked for advice from my parents and they told me to start with something small and easy first. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always loved bags. If other girls feel like they can never have too many pairs of shoes, that's how I feel about bags. So I decided to turn my love for bags into an actual business and make my love for shopping productive."

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Young entrepreneur. "Starting a business at a young age is definitely hard—especially when you barely have the experience or the background of an entrepreneur. Also, there are already so many brands present in the market today that it’s not enough to have a cool product to sell, but you also need to find a way to differentiate your brand from the rest of the competition."

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Drawing inspiration. "My parents have always been my inspiration. Ever since I was young, I've always been in awe at how hardworking they are. I consider them as my mentors. They constantly teach me and give me advice on how I can turn my business into a success."

Flying solo. "I've always liked working alone, so it's really no hassle to me. I consider myself very obsessive compulsive. I always want to make sure that every single detail of the bag is in perfect condition before I sell it to my customers. I literally check everything from the bag itself (pockets, zippers, handles) to the tags and labels. I want to personally ensure that the quality of each bag is good. My goal is to make my customers feel happy and satisfied when they buy from me, so I prefer doing it myself to be sure that the work isn’t sloppy. But when I do need help, my family and friends are always willing to lend a hand."

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Little challenges. "There have been problems from dealing with my supplier to my clients. Just a few weeks ago, my supplier wasn't able to start the production of my bags on time and everything else was pushed back. My bags were already sold out and a lot of my customers were already waiting for me to restock."

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Staying original. "I like to believe that the designs and colors of Mon Sac bags are something that you don't usually see in the market. As much as possible, I veer away from the basic colors, which is why I also offer a variety of colors for each design. I like to keep my brand as something original, lively, and as colorful as possible."

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What's next? "As of now, I just want to introduce more designs to my customers and join as much fairs as I can. I want to focus first on my presence online, build my own website, and who knows? Maybe I'll have my own physical store in the future!"

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Entrepreneurial philosophy. "Be passionate about what you do so that you are working wholeheartedly; and when you do, you will generate the best results and make your customers happy.

You're happy with your work and so are your customers, it's a win-win situation."

To young budding entrepreneurs. "As cliché as it sounds, don’t be afraid to take risks. Some people are scared to start from nothing, but no one ever reaches the top without climbing from the bottom. It might be scary and intimidating, but the reward is worth it. Believe in yourself and dream big but at the same time, work for it and when I say work I mean work real hard and put everything you have into your work. Don't be lazy. It’s not easy, but you'll forget all the times you were tired as soon as you start to see the fruits of your labor."

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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.
VIEW OTHER ARTICLES FROM Janelle

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Ivah Ely 14 hours ago

Forget Me Not: A forgotten entry in Tokyo

Watching well-made films often fuel the desire for adventure and excitement in our own lives. Like many in their youth, I've felt that childlike feeling of seeing myself as the main character in my own movie. The genres often change with time and it goes from comedy to tragedy really quick. I used to think that if I closed my eyes for too long, I'd miss the best parts. That if I close my eyes then I'd be covering the lens to the camera in my mind. But I also believed that I could dream about what I see again when I lay my head to sleep at nights or that I can re-watch all my memories after I die. But now that I'm older reality has a tighter grasp on my throat as I trudge my rocky road to adulthood. My memory is failing me. I write this entry for that reason. Because I am scared to forget. I was emotionally and mentally worn. I didn't know it at the time but I desperately needed that feeling of childlikeness again.

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Senior high school came with so much unnecessary pain and pressure that I didn't realize I was gasping for air. I always sat by the window to stare out during class as the voice of my teacher became background noise that faded into my daydreams. Before I knew it, I was packing a small backpack in the middle of the semester on a cold November evening to go on a trip to Tokyo. This time it wasn't a dream and it felt as if time stood still.

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While my friends and classmates were back home in their classrooms going on with their lives and schoolwork, I on the other hand was two-thousand miles away in a foreign land with a foreign language where my basic knowledge was not enough for me to survive on my own. Like passing through the Torii gate which the Japanese believe brings humans into the land of the spirits, I was in a new world. The breeze felt like a cold nip at the tip of my nose as autumn was nearing winter but I've never breathed in air fresher. I was welcomed into a small and warm Japanese home with lovely little folded cranes on a humble dinner table.

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My aunt who was far lovelier and even more vibrant than the colors on the delicately folded cranes was there to welcome me as well. The paper cranes weren't the only things she prepared for my one-week stay. On a little pink card, she had my name along with my Tokyo address handwritten in Japanese for our rides on the bus & bullet train; and in case I get lost. She also prepared a small pink pouch with cute yellow elephants on it. The pouch was filled with coins of different amounts. The coins were for me to spend freely on drinks and snacks in vending machines. It was all more than enough since beforehand she already prepared us 2 weeks' worth of snacks for my 1-week stay. On top of all that she prepared winter clothes since I traveled light and she insisted that I wear the pink parka that she brought before I came over. I find it funny that she still thinks I like pink but it's still just like the good old days. She's still one of the most thoughtful people I know. My aunt is a missionary in Japan and has always been like a mother and a friend to me. I sobbed like a baby in front of a thousand-member congregation on the day my family and I sent her off. A few years later, with my father being our Church's missions pastor, I was given the opportunity to travel to Tokyo and see her. Seeing her again was bittersweet. It's sweet since she raised me and is a big part of who I am and my interests today. But bitter because it hits you like a ton of bricks when you notice someone you love is has gotten older or weaker. Don't we all feel that at some point with our parents and guardians? On my father's side of the family, we have issues of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Dementia. It's hard to pretend that it doesn't hurt that after years of being with my grandma, she doesn't know who I am. As for my dad, on top of having Parkinson's he is starting to show early signs of dementia too. It's scary how quickly one can forget decades worth of memories. I wonder if I may go through that as well one day.

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At the time these thoughts were overshadowed by the magical Disneyland rides and digital museums, sights like Mt. Fuji as well as traditional and Modern Japanese Architecture, pictures we took at the iconic Hachiko shrine, and Shibuya crosswalk, and even the small oddities of Harajuku fashion and merchandise. I took as many pictures every chance I could get. I wrote in my digital journal with plans to make a picture journal when I get back home. Japan was quite the story to tell that I believe rekindled my childlike spirit. Before we knew it, the week ended and I was packing once again. This time my luggage was more than twice as heavy and the destination this time was home. I dreaded leaving Japan but I dreaded leaving my aunt more. I didn't get to say a proper goodbye to her at the airport due to my not knowing that she was only allowed to see me off until a certain point. I cried on the flight back while holding a giant Donald duck stuffed toy as I just imagined her going to her small Tokyo home alone. I also cried since soon I'd have to face reality once again. After hours of travel I found myself back home in the all too familiar Baguio. But I was in distress. It wasn't because my lungs were starting to forget what clean air felt like or that I'm missing the life I've lived for the past week. But I was in distress because I couldn't find my phone. Why was that the biggest problem in the world to me at the time? It was because of the pictures and notes that were lost with it. All the pictures I took and the notes of the smallest details were a blurry mess amidst the panic in my brain. I never posted anything because I wanted to live in the time there and not worry about anything back home or anyone knowing what I've been up to. But what haunts me is that I don't remember a single one of the pictures I took. I was so sure that I'd be able to go over them when I get back home. I don't want to forget. It's been 550 days and it still bothers me. It's been 550 days and it's only now that I realize the lesson of this story as I write this.

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As scary as it is to forget memories, we have to understand when we have to hold on to something and when it's okay to forget. I tried for weeks to somehow recover the pictures on iCloud but to no avail. We may not be able to fix the mistakes of the past or avoid misfortune that is out of our hands but what we can do is to move forward and make more memories that are worth remembering. Treasure the beautiful moments and the lessons from the terrible times. Cherish them and fight to keep these memories on the surface. If you find that difficult to do then strive to tell your stories to others. Because in the times that we forget, then we have others will remember our legacy. We can't be sure about what happens next though we can plan all we want. Often life doesn't have spoilers and may have a plot twist around the corner. As for me, I may never find those photos again but I made it a goal to one day come back to Tokyo and make more memories. That is a promise that I won't forget.

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Kim Angela Santos 14 hours ago

The Art of Doing Nothing

We have been confined with the worldview about the idea of success; thus, the word “productivity” has been diverted into a different meaning. We labeled the level of our success by identifying the weight of the works we’ve done – believing that the busier you are, the more productive you’ll be. But little did we know that this kind of mindset is a pitfall, ending up in a trap and restricting us to do more of what we can.

Every person has their own way of planning on how to get productive. One of the tips mentioned by Prosalendis was the “2 Hour Hermit Mode” where you just need to stay quiet for two hours to learn and reflect. Within the 2-Hour Hermit Mode, you need to completely shut down outside distractions and try to do nothing, this will help you to have a peace of mind and a quiet time. Focus. This word may be cliché, having a shallow meaning, but the reality is, focusing on one thing is one of the hardest things to do. Some people may have mistakenly understood “doing nothing” as unproductive, but this is actually a form of taking a break. I usually do this 2-Hour Hermit every time I am loaded with tons of deadlines. Just try to sit in the corner of a coffee shop and try to discover new things or just go to a place where you find yourself comfort and peace.

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The art of doing nothing makes you appreciate the beauty of the mundane things - you get to witness how the leaves sway on their own branches, you get to see the unappreciated smiles of the people, you get to hear the sound of the birds giving you lullabies. You will never have the time to focus if you are too disturbed with a lot of things. Give yourself a rest from thinking about all the work you need to do. Don’t get distracted and give yourself the freedom of unfolding new things. The power of focusing and art of doing nothing will help you to do things you don’t normally do, and maybe start to love the things you once hated. Trace your progress. We don’t know how productive we are unless we trace our activities. I have a journal where I can write the things I have done, and the things I wasn’t able to accomplish. This helps me to track and jot down the things I failed to do within the day.

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You are able to take a break and have a rest by doing outside the boundary of the tons of work you have. You will also be surprised that you have done so many things when you’re listing the things you’ve accomplished. This will not just give you the satisfaction but you will also be grateful for what you have done for the past twenty-four hours. You just need a minute to reminisce what you have done while enjoying the silence in the process. Small daily acts can be a solution to achieve our long-term goals. We’re always bombarded with distractions and piled up work, but nothing can beat the idea of staying on track and not feeling lost. By doing this, we will always be reminded why we started to commit on the things that we want to do. After all, what makes us love what we do is knowing why we started it in the first place. The problem with us is that we are too busy achieving, losing the time to see the colors of the ordinary. We are blinded with the idea that success comes with great productivity. We always think that we are defined by how much work we exerted, and not appreciating the effort we’ve given. The fact is you are already successful in acknowledging that you have done something, and nothing.

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