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Betty Martinez & Paulina Anchia from Puerto Rico of Beamina on Handbag Designer 101 Podcast Every Tuesday






Emily Blumenthal

Host

00:00

Hi and welcome to the Handbag Designer 101 podcast with your host, Emily Blumenthal, handbag designer expert and handbag fairy godmother, where we cover everything about handbags from making, marketing, designing and talking to handbag designers and industry experts about what it takes to make a successful handbag. Welcome, betty and Paulina of Beamina, living in glorious Puerto Rico as we speak. Thank you for being part of Handbag Designer 101, the podcast. So happy to have you. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

00:38

Thank you. It's our pleasure to be here. We're super happy. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

00:42

We were looking forward for this opportunity to be with you, pleasure to be here and we're super happy. We were looking forward for this opportunity to be with you. I know we had a conflict just because Paulina has school, which tends to get in the way. High school can really slow you down when developing a brand. So I'm glad we were able to get the time in when she was not in school legitimately and not cutting school for this and we can make this happen. So this is super exciting. I want to just jump right in. 

01:10

So you were a mother, daughter, you were in high school, meaning daughter Paulina's in high school, not the mom. Stranger things have happened, right, you know, be very interesting. I would take Google back. Yeah, you don't want to go back to high school. Trust me, you're good, you are good. How did this come to pass that you said? Whose idea was it to say, oh my God, there's a hole in the market in Puerto Rico and I want to do it with you together, because we get along so well already and don't disagree on anything. So talk to me about the raices, the roots of Bermuda. 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

01:54

So it was my idea, and so when I was very little, I, because you're not little now. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:00

16 is not little, okay, before you had wrinkles, right Got it. That not little. Okay, 16 is not little Before you had wrinkles, right Got it. Yes, correct, correct. 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

02:09

When I was four I used to take sewing classes and I would make like clothes, I would make handbags, but they were all like made of cloth and like very low key. But then one day I was like telling my mom that like, oh my God, I want to have a handbag in store or like anything like that, a brand, yeah. And then one day I was telling her, like please, mom, we have to do it. And then you know. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

02:38

So it really started like her hobby was doing bags all the time and she started doing paper bags and then she started with the sewing and she started doing the bags and selling to the friends and family. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:50

You were selling them. Yeah, yeah, so pause. So I want to know were you profitable? Were you making money off of them? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

03:01

Yeah, because, since we would, buy like one roll of fabric, then we would make a lot of just one roll, were you making them yourself. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

03:11

Yes, so, and this is something interesting that a lot of new designers don't take into account is labor. So the time value of money spent in labor, did you add on cost to the bag of how much your cost was actually making the bags? How did you figure out the? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

03:31

pricing. I'd meet them more for fun and I wouldn't like I would keep them for myself, but once in a while, like I would tell, like I would make like five and then I would tell like my aunts, do you want to buy one? And they would put overpriced, only just for me to feel like I did something good. But then we would take that money and we would always go to La Romana and we would like use that money to give to the other people in need. So, yeah, what's like? Whose idea was? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

04:02

that Hers. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

04:05

Well, since they are needle, we have been very social, active, like with empathy and helping others, like I said, told you before, like my family came from the exile of Cuba and they came here with nothing from the exile of Cuba and they came here with nothing. So for us it's also important. The same way Puerto Rico opened, you know, their hands to my family to help them in a crisis, in a political crisis, the same way we want to help other people, you know, when you come from zero, if we have a way to support and help, why we don't do that? So when she started doing the bags, and then from paper, then it was fabric, and then I used to work for this company that I used to work more than 10 years. 

04:47

I thought I was going to be an old lady working there and I lost my job because the company was sold and I was super sad, you know, as column of the family. For me it was a really tough time and one day Paulina saw me, you know, crying in the patio of my house. I was just defining how I'm going to be able to support the family after this big loss and Paulina saw me through the glass of the door and I was super vulnerable. I was like, oh my God, how am I going to go back? So Paulina was singing. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

05:20

It's pretty scary when your kids see you in that state I mean especially through the pandemic I think no parent is ever prepared. You know, regardless of what your children are going through because it wasn't easy for any kid because people were still stuck indoors it was an unhealthy, unfair scenario for kids. But for parents, you know, it puts you in such a vulnerable position because you're not meant to be with your family 24-7. And when you are with your family 24-7, your kids see you in positions that they shouldn't. And I mean it is what it is. But you know, typically there would be no real world that your daughter would see you fall apart. But because of how lights has happened, you know it was like the curtain was pulled, everything was just there, raw, correct. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

06:15

So at that time I said, like I have to go back to the house so Paulina can be relaxed and she feels me that I'm okay, you know I'll be okay, everything is going to be okay. And she gave me a book that she wrote and she drew with Crayolas and computer paper and he said, like Mom, those thunderstorms that you see are stars that are coming down and you don't want to see them. And at that point, emily, I was so Did you cry more? I'm going to cry, of course, and even that's one of the slogans that we have in the brand. Because that really was all. 

06:50

Because she taught me she was eight years old at the time that on the storms, there always starts and we always put our attention to the problems, but we don't find solutions sometimes to the situations and we don't see the light. So she told me that there was a solution, there was an opportunity. And she told me, mom, why we don't make the bags? I'm like Paulina, I don't have money, I don't have a job at the moment. How are we going to do this? I never thought of a business, right? 

07:19

So I went to bed and I start, you know, thinking about what Paulina just told me what it could be and who it would be. I was like, oh my goodness, this is so beautiful. So I started accepting her offer of making the bags a reality and I said, well, I have a boy, you know. I have a son, and everything can be about Paulina, because then my son is gonna be jealous. So I asked Pablo his name is Pablo Pablo. What name will you put to the brand? And he said Amina, because when he was little you can tell he couldn't say your name, that he couldn't pronounce Paulina, so he used to say Amina. 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

07:57

So when we were thinking of a name and he said that, it was like perfect. Amina means person protected by everything that causes fear how'd you figure that out, because that's not Spanish. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

08:11

Yeah, no, we google it, we google it. Somebody said, like Amina to the person protected by it's a warrior. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

08:19

It's actually a warrior, and B is by the verb to be. So you want to be an Amina in your life. You want to be a warrior of your dreams, and that's part of our mission and that's how we started Wow. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

08:32

I mean that is look, everybody has an inception story. 

08:37

I've been doing this for a really, really, really long time and I always tell designers to strip any kind of emotion out of the product, because at the end of the day, you're creating bags and they're not bingos, it's not art. You can't get emotionally swept up in every single bag, because the goal is right to sell, and not one, but to continue to sell more and more and more and get people to come back, and all the TTs in the world can't subsidize your future right as a brand. So how are you able to separate the emotion and then say, okay, in my livelihood as a mom with two children two smaller children how are you able to convert this action project into saying like, okay, this has got to be a business, like, let's pull away. Because the first instinct of a new designer who may not understand the market is you end up charging way too much for your bags because of materials and time and labor. Like, oh, the bag's $800. Who's going to spend $800? So how are you able to deal with all of that? 

Betty Martinez

Guest

09:46

Well, actually, when we started, I used to help a lot the Ricky Martin Foundation, long before we had Viamina. So when we started creating, you know what will be the brand and the meaning and our mission, we said, like, it has to be more than just a product. It has to be, you know, it has to have a purpose. So we did an alliance with the Ricky Martin Foundation Amazing, yes, and it was beautiful because, you know, paulina was a small kid at that time and you know, to talk about how you prevent human trafficking. It was, you know, such a beautiful step and purpose for the brand, even more than our bags. You know, right, for us it was so important to have that. But then, you know, we started growing and we came. You know the pandemic, other stuff that had to shift. You know our birth control and the directions to keep helping others in other ways. Right, we still have an alliance with the Blast Wing Foundation. 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

10:56

It's a foundation that helps. You can tell, Helps like young, like young girls like follow their dreams, like the purpose is to make girls want to achieve something. So and to develop. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

11:06

you know their talents and it goes a lot to our brand and that's how we started. When we started the brand, we even had another logo. It was very childish, you know, it was two stars. You, you know our slogan together we shine Because you know mother and daughter, and we wanted to keep that slogan and people that were buying to us were telling us our perception is more elevated of what we see in the brand, of what we see in the brand. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

11:38

So, after- Was this feedback? Was it difficult to hear? Because you get you know again, so swept up into the emotion of you thinking your brand and you know your brand better than anybody else. So, were you able to receive this feedback? Or were you like, no, you're wrong? Or were you like, okay, we get it, we get it, let's no, no. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

12:06

Yeah, I totally received it. Paulina also did, and we were open to acknowledge how people were perceiving us and it was beautiful because the way they were looking at us it was even better than the way we were. So we had to elevate our quality. We had standards, our standards, the logo, everything. 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

12:22

So it was a huge change for us, but then we bettered it. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

12:30

If you ever wanted to start a handbag brand and didn't know where to start, this is for you. If you had dreams of becoming a handbag designer but aren't trained in design, this is for you. If you have a handbag brand and need strategy and direction, this is for you. I'm Emily Blumenthal, handbag designer expert and handbag fairy godmother, and this is the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass. Over the next 10 classes, I will break down everything you need to know to make, manufacture and market a handbag brand, broken down to ensure that you will not only skip steps in the handbag building process, but also to save money to avoid the learning curve of costly mistakes. For the past 20 years, I've been teaching at the top fashion universities in New York City, wrote the Handbag Designer Bible, founded the Handbag Awards and created the only Handbag Designer podcast. I'm going to show you like I have countless brands to create in this in-depth course, from sketch to sample to sale. Whether you're just starting out and don't even know where to start or begin, or if you've had a brand and need some strategic direction, the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass is just for you. So let's get started and you'll be the creator of the next it bag. 

13:42

Join me, emily Blumenthal, in the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass. So be sure to sign up at emilyblumenthalcom slash masterclass and type in the code PINECAST to get 10% off your masterclass today. To get 10% off your masterclass today? Well, I want to ask you because I know way back, like with Coach, you know, like early 2000s, before that, like there was still a lot of handbag manufacturing in Puerto Rico. Now there's pretty much none. So how were you able to find manufacturing, especially with this loyalty of recognizing the give back? I'm sure your first instinct would be like let's make them locally give jobs and people. You know, but you know materials and so forth. How did you deal with that? 

Betty Martinez

Guest

14:36

Yes, so in Puerto Rico. It's really hard for the manufacturer, so we have to really do it in another country. We started in Colombia and then right now we are producing in Europe, in Italy and in Spain. We had to elevate completely our brand and that's where we're developing our products right now. I have to say that our icon bag, it's our bonbon. This is our icon bag and we have a patent design for our bonbon and we are super happy, super excited that we accomplished that. We also have a patent license for our angel wings, the Zip, the Zip bag, and you can use it, you know, in different ways. So we feel super happy. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

15:29

It has been a long way but it is accomplished and those bags are leather. Yes, yes, yes, congratulations. By the way, I think I have five or six handbag patents, design patents, and it's funny. Was your angle for that to stop people from potentially knocking it off, or was it potentially to license it out? Because to spend that money for IP it's really expensive? Because to spend that money for IP it's really expensive, it's really time consuming. So how were you able to justify the why of protecting those particular silhouettes so when we started it was something organic. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

16:12

So because Paulina was the one that really started doing all the bags, and when we started, I started producing all the bags that Paulina was designing, we start, I start producing all the bags that Paulina was designing, and that was one of, I will say, the mistakes that I made. And then I started putting more attention to what was our, you know, the bestseller, and it was our bonbon and we elevated the bonbon and then we stayed with the bonbon for a long time and I remember that people were like, are you doing another bag? Because I, we stay with one bag and one bag and one bag, that's it, nothing else. And I think that was the best thing. I brand and I had to protect our design and that's why we patent, we wanted it to be ours? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

17:09

yeah, no, it's. You know, having been through that and the time and the effort and energy and and doing so much research on the history of the handbag and who actually takes the time to protect? Because with patents there's a utility patent which is based on function and how it's used. Design is obviously the design of the bag. Not a lot of people do it. Not a lot of them get approved. But I always try like whenever designers say so I would say you know, for you to drop that. I mean, when I did it it was 7,000. Now it's clearly much more to spend that money. 

17:48

Just make sure that whatever you're doing, it is for a reason. And then again, I always recommend if anybody's going to knock you off, you knock yourself off first. So that's a secret trick. So you know, I teach my students if you're going to be on the market, you want to be the fastest, the first or the best. So if you're going to use something that you've spent all this money on and you're doing it to protect, then make sure if there's anyone who's going to knock you off, do it yourself first. So if there is a lesser priced version, it's coming from you so you can reap the benefits of everything. Because that's the whole point. I'm not telling you to do it, I'm just saying that's always the advice I give, like, if you're going to do this, go big or go home. You know what I mean. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

18:29

Yes, Like we, our icon bag right. We are already in El Corte Inglés in Spain. We are doing everything A we are doing everything that a lot of projects and a lot of projects. People in the industry, they're looking at us, you know, they understand and they see our product as a great product, Something of value yeah, of value and they're high quality and it distinguishes by itself, Right? I hope that through this beautiful podcast that we're doing, people can see us and they're interested. They can contact us and have our bonbon. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

19:07

So I want to talk a little bit about that Now. In terms of the learning curve of OK, I'm a mom, I'm the matriarch of this family, I'm going all in on this handbag thing, how was it to go from we have our first sample to how did you get your first orders? Did you personally go door to door? Did the two of you do it? Did you? You know? Obviously Puerto Rico is a very close, tight, community driven culture, so I'm sure you knew someone who knew someone who had a boutique. Did someone do a favor for you to do a test? Did they actually buy it from you? What was the story there? 

Betty Martinez

Guest

19:52

No, so we were really an e-commerce brand. We stayed for a long time e-commerce only, and now we just opened our first flagship store, wow, in Puerto Rico, and we're super happy with the opportunity. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

20:10

Wow, so you remain direct to consumer. You didn't even go the boutique route at all. No, how did you come up with that reason to try? Because you're starting with, you know, zero community, zero followers. I mean, obviously, having a 16 year old daughter who's on the pulse of everything, I'm sure you were able to get a following pretty quick. So how were you able to translate? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

20:35

that, so it was just like the patent. I think we wanted it to be ours instead of going to other people. There's something we knew we could do on our own. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

20:46

Yeah, we wanted to start, you know, making a brand like people can see us like, as a brand as itself, not like in every single boutique, to give that opportunity of exclusivity. To give that opportunity of exclusivity. So to keep that exclusivity, I had to hold myself on the intention on other opportunities because we knew where we wanted to go and I think we have accomplished till now. We have created a brand as itself. People recognize us, people value what we have done and they respect us a lot. So I think that was something that it was hard at the moment because I had to have five or six jobs at the same time to fund myself, of course, to make a brand, because making a brand from zero it's super hard, and more such a competitive industry where we are right now. But I feel super proud and accomplished both of us that what we have created till now has been successful. But a lot of work, you know, and Paulina has seen the process and she has been involved in the process and I think it's physically half your life. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

21:59

I mean, that's keep the wrinkles on a minimum, but good for you for controlling the stress. I want to ask were the first orders you received? Were they from Puerto Rico, like, did you know? Obviously we have this amazing, we have a connection with your publicist and so forth. Victoria, who's amazing. But I always tell designers do everything yourself first, because that's the way you understand the market. You know who the people are, who the players are, who to reach out to press, media, marketing, sales. You have to know how to do these things by yourself before you outsource. So how were you able to get people to know you existed? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

22:39

I think the first couple of people that bought were either from Puerto Rico or from Miami. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

22:46

Yes, but I think that, like with all the interviews, like in the local news, yeah, we were able to be out there, like Hola TV did an interview for us, cnn, abc, nbc, the local news also. You know they interview us and it was something that really got the attention because it was something different. It was a true story, it was not a made up story. So every time we went to the interviews the anchor will ask Paulina anything that they want and Paulina will answer with the true story. It's not that I'm telling Paulina, hey, say this or say that, it just came organically. So it doesn't matter what question they will ask, the truth will come out and people love that and appreciate that that. You know it was a hard-working mom that lost her job and her daughter had a talent and it just came to where we are right now paulina, are you still doing the sketching, the mock-ups, are you still developing? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

23:58

yes, and since we have like new bags through season, so we have to like remake them, to send them so they could come before. So it's a big process but we're able to figure out the timing right and everything. So it's like the design, then we send it, they make it, the prototype comes and then we send the official with all the edits and how it's going to be the final product. So I think we both pitch in when it comes to the idea making and how we want everything to be specifically, because even though it's a little detailed and we want it fixed, then we'll just both agree on it detail and we want it fixed. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

24:43

Then we'll just both agree on it. Have you made mistakes within developing the collection? Because a lot of designers, when they do get excited, they get attention, they're able to make a little bit of money. The first thing they do is over-design, over-develop, over-create and I want to do this and I want to do that. And were you able to take your anchor piece, your signature bag, and say you know what, if this is our bestseller, let's keep it in the family? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

25:05

So all the bags look related, I think once that first like new development came in, I think obviously we did get excited and sometimes you know you can go a little off, but I think we measured just the right amount for the first time and then we slowly kept on increasing the amount of bags we did. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

25:27

So we have been very professional On the inventory, because that could be something that can kill any designer 100% the inventory. So that's why, you know, we started only with one product. Once we were established and the market accepted us, then, you know, we started moving with other designs and now with a flagship store that we created because it really gives us, you know, more publicity, but a statement that we are a real brand. We're not here as a hobby, this is a real brand and we're here, you know, to work and give the best that we can to our clients and, obviously, so more people can get to know us and value what we represent. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

26:13

Final question, and then I want everybody to know where they can find and follow you. But, paulina, do you have to work at the store after school, do you? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

26:23

work there Like I, just like right next to where the store is, so I can go there before my practice and stay there and then I'll change for my practice. But I usually go more like on the weekends with my mom and we'll just stay there like hours. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

26:43

I find it fun, because I find it calming to go there, so it's like a hard place. Yeah, amazing Ladies, this has been fantastic. How can everybody find and follow Bermina? 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

27:01

Where, if they decide to show up in Puerto Rico, where can they find your store and learn more? 

Betty Martinez

Guest

27:06

So you can find it online at Beaminacom. 

Paulina Anchia

Guest

27:09

Beaminacom. On Instagram it's Beamina Official, and on Facebook as well. But here in Puerto Rico you can find it at San Patricio Liberty Square. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

27:23

It's San Patricio Plaza. It's a shopping center, it's a mall here in Guaynabo in Puerto Rico. It's a new area and it's very, very nice. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

27:32

And in what city? In Puerto Rico, guaynabo, guaynabo. Okay, amazing Ladies, I only wish you the best. I am so honored that I was able to speak to you at this point. I hope we can reflect on this when, betty, you look exactly the same and Paulina will look much older. I hope so. Yes, exactly so. Bamina, b-e-a-m-i-n-a dot com. Thank you, ladies, so very much. Fue un gran placer. Thank you so much. 

Betty Martinez

Guest

28:08

Thank you so much. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

28:09

It was a real pleasure and thank you for the opportunity. Thanks for listening. Don't forget to rate and review, and follow us on every single platform at Handbag Designer. Thanks so much. See you next time. 

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