Amina Aranaz: The Lead Designer of Aranaz and Creative Director of SoFA Design Institute Tells Her Story
by Gretzel Lantican
“I consider myself a big dreamer. I work hard and I’m one [of those people who] don’t give up,” says Amina Aranaz, the Creative Director of the School of Fashion and the Arts Design Institute (SoFA) and Lead Designer of Aranaz.
Creating a Socially Conscious Label
Aranaz bags displayed on MaArte Fair 2018
The designer and entrepreneur was introduced by her mother, Becky, to the world of creativity. With Becky, she learned to not limit herself and to not think of her dream as something too big, because it can happen.
Her interest in creating Filipino products and promoting local artisans started as she grew with her mom’s business. “Her factory was basically my playground”, she says while reminiscing.
At the right age, she thought of creating a stamp in global fashion. In 2004, she took a masters course in Fashion Accessory Design at Istituto Marangoni Milano. Afterwards, she ran the business together with her mother and sister.
In 2007, she co-founded the country’s first-ever design college, SoFA Design Institute. The institution has been known as a training ground for business acumen, creativity, and technical proficiency for future design leaders. It offers CHED and TESDA-accredited degree programs in the country.
With two businesses and a full-time job as a housewife and mother, Amina is lucky enough to manage her own time. “It gets stressful but I have my own way to balance it”, she adds.
Aranaz bags included in Vogue's Top 20 Basket Bags
Becky's business has been producing and exporting native bags in the country since 1980, but Amina says they, “were never recognized as a Filipino brand”. When she took over the business venture, she created Aranaz and made sure it would turn into a local label that carries a Filipino name wherever it goes.
In 2012, Aranaz went in the international scene. Two years after, its handcrafted straw bags were recognized. Vogue, Harper Bazaar, and InStyle are some of the world’s premier fashion magazines that featured their Filipino craftsmanship. These handmade accessories made a mark in the U.S., Dubai, Greece, Kuwait, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the Queen of Belgium and the Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are included in the list of her clients.
Learning from Mishaps
Before the brand was widely known, it took a long time for their stitched and weaved products to be desired.
Amina goes, “We joined some trade shows, which we thought were the one. There’s this one fair when people liked our pieces, and we won an award: Best accessories for it, but we didn’t get a single order. We didn’t know that it was a wrong trade show”.
Based on this experience, Amina learned: 1) It is important to know your audience. 2) Persistence will eventually lead to success; 3) One must face failures, challenges, and mistakes to prosper; and 4) Keeping a positive mind and taking a risk along the journey are two secrets of a successful entrepreneurship.
A career woman always has a lot of things on her plate, and for Amina, it gets tiring and overwhelming at times. But it’s her growing to-do list that makes her up everyday. She always reminds herself, “I get to do more today”.
Amina’s willingness to learn, to do anything, and to let go of the small stuff are what makes her an inspiration, a self-made woman who is truly one to be proud of.