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Mommy Republic – A Website for Moms by Moms

 

A Website for Moms by Moms

 

A digital storefront  offers award winning, functional and whimsical finds especially curated by moms

As a mom, I’d rather go to the mall than order anything online. Previous purchases left me with clothes that don’t fit, damaged goods, and worse, overpriced products that don’t look anything at all like the photos posted by spurious sellers. Return or exchange policies are non existent and since most online sellers are unregistered (read illegitimate) enterprises that don’t issue receipts, it’s really a losing battle for consumers. One website, however, has made a convert out of this cynical virtual shopper.

 

A Market for Mompreneurs

The good news is that there is now a legitimate platform for women entrepreneurs. Mommy Republic (MR) is the brainchild of ingenious moms Edie Acedera and Kate Yu. “We wanted to create a unique space where we can enable business minded moms to sell their wares by providing them with all the necessary resources. As long as their businesses are registered and they have the products we are looking for, they can easily join,” says Edie.  According to her, the first challenge was the creation of a multi-user website that provided an excellent experience for both sellers and buyers. The next hurdle was to populate the site with the pioneer batch of brands that carry quality products which would cater to their target market who are moms with young children.

The women behind the brand.

The women behind the brand.

 

Is it easy to join? After the screening process and acceptance of their applications, moms can go in the site and create their own stores within half an hour. MR sellers are allowed to customize, post photos and update their e-stores. For those who are not tech savvy, assistance is provided. Currently, there are 30 mompreneurs with more registrants in the offing. Warehousing, payment collection, delivery, customer service, as well as marketing and promotion are all handled by MR. Need to exchange an item? Consumer experience is highly valued so you won’t have any trouble getting the product that’s just right for you.

 

Made and Curated by Moms

 Edie and Kate admit to finding the Philippine market quite fragmented in terms of sellers, most of which are housed in Facebook and Instagram. By starting MR, moms can now go to a singular website to find a wide variety of items. All the products are meticulously selected and tested. Included in MR’s inventory are non-electronic, non-toxic and award winning toys that encourage creativity in children (baby and toddlers), cute and functional school bags (kids), beautiful beddings and linens (home and living).

Wooden toys

 

My favorites are among the site’s bestsellers. White and Olive pillowcases and linens are lovingly hand made by skilled artisans and are of fine export quality.  I’m told that it’s a hit with US and European buyers. MR also boasts of a wide assortment of wooden toys. My daughter has so far spent many hours playing with the wooden kitchen and fruit set I ordered for her. Both are from the brand Magic Forest whose creators are Singaporean parents who understand the value of learning through play. It’s amusing to watch my five year old prepare all kind of food while pretending that she’s a chef, server and fruit vendor. Goki, Heimess and Holztiger are 60 year old toy brands imported by a German mom while Little Playtown is another wooden toy label that encourages active pretend play which is an important milestone for kids. All toys are made from redwood, fun and safe, and stimulate the curiosity, cognitive  and psycho motor skills of children.

Mommy Republic products

 

Ever find yourself frowning while reading the grocery list prepared by yaya? Now you never have to guess what that gobbledygook means. MR’s foolproof grocery list will make things so much easier. Just check the items you need and you’re ready to go.

Super handy grocery list. A must-have for all moms!

Super handy grocery list. A must-have for all moms!

 

The site also has a directory which has extensive listings of almost every mommy need you can think of like party planners and supplies, kids’ enrichment activities, food, hair and make-up, photography, grooming for kids and even home cleaners!

 

So if you’re looking for another channel for your business or have the products but need help in selling them, MR is the perfect avenue for you. As for savvy but practical mommy shoppers, you’ll certainly discover many extraordinary finds in Mommy Republic. Happy shopping!

 

Unique finds await you at https://mommyrepublic.com/ and in their Facebook page The Mommy Republic.

 

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Freedom vs Justice

 My 12 year old boy M is the biggest fan of Ironman. Behind the ironsuit is Tony Stark ,the ultrasmart megabillionaire  scion of his equally brilliant inventor father, Stark Industries founder Howard Stark.  M has always been fascinated with Tony’s intelligence,  witty one-liners and I-don’t-care-what-the world-thinks-of-me attitude.  He has a whole collection of Ironman toys and memorabilia, dressed up like his favorite superhero during his 7th birthday and even virtually suited up as the metalled Avenger via a hologram powered attraction when we visited California Adventure in Los Angeles a few years back.

Both ladies and men's apparel are available. Choose your side!

Both Civil War ladies and men’s apparel are available. Choose your side!

 

So M was over the moon when the first trailer of  Captain America Civil War was shown.  At a special screening last Monday  which the two of us attended in Megamall, M was so excited he chowed down his bucket of popcorn even before the movie started.  The latest Avengers installment  is based on crossover plots from previously released Marvel movies.  It begins when a grief stricken mother pays Tony Stark (played oh-so-perfectly by Robert Downey Jr.) a visit after he gives a talk to MIT students.  She has lost a son due to the superheroes’ past mission in fictional Sokovia.  This incident is followed by a bombing attack  which resulted to heavy human collateral damage in Lagos, Nigeria which immediately prompts Downey’s character to support government oversight.   Ironman’s action is seen as a kowtowing surrender to the will of politicians by Captain America (played by the superbuff Chris Evans).  The proposed Superhero Regulatory Act  creates a deep divide  in the Avengers alliance.   Captain America  believes in remaining free to protect the people sans political interference while Ironman sees regulation as  a justifiable and effective means to spare innocent lives.  The other team members must now choose a side.

Cool Captain America gear from F&H

Cool Captain America gear from F&H

 

The good news is that local  clothing brand Folded & Hung (F&H) has an ongoing partnership with Disney.  The Marvel franchise is now under the Disney brand.  With the third of the Avengers movie now out in theatres, F&H has launched a variety of  cool Team Captain America and Team IronMan apparel for both the men and ladies.   Rivalry, which echoes the plot of the movie, is the theme of the collection.  Cotton shirts as well as  long and boxy fit tees with prints of  “Truth vs Justice”,  the mask of Ironman and the shield of Captain America are now in the stores.  An assortment of backpacks, duffle bags and sling ons are also available.  Each Team Captain America piece has a counter Team Ironman item.  Now it’s up to you to choose your team!

TeamCap or Team Stark ?

TeamCap or Team Stark ?

 

As for my family, the husband has secured four tickets for tonight.  My son and I certainly don’t mind watching the movie for a second time.  (I will watch anything with Robert Downwy Jr. in it!)  We promised not to let out any spoilers since my little daughter and her Dad have not seen the show.  This time around, however, we will be dressed up for the occasion.  Wearing our  chosen shirts from F&H, it will now be known to all that the  Fermins are stalwart fans of Team Ironman!

We've chosen our side. Have you?

We’ve chosen our side. Have you?

JOIN the BQP CONTEST NOW! Get the chance to win P500 Gift Certificates from Folded & Hung! SHARE on FB, TAG, and ANSWER this simple question here on the blog.

1. Whose side are you on? TeamCAP or Team STARK? WHY?

 

 

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With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

 

What the Cool Kids Wear

I’m quite sure a lot of moms have the same dilemma as I do.  We see clothes that would look absolutely adorable on our kids (never mind the price tag), we make them fit it in the store (or just buy them off the rack having been suddenly overcome by shopping euphoria), then we go home and keep it in the closet.  They wear it once or twice and voila!  Just like that, they seem to have grown overnight and the clothes don’t fit anymore.  Money down the drain, euphoria bubble busted big time.

The Summer collection is all about the 70’s vibe, marked by its powdery and aged blues combined with more upbeat and bright colors.

The Summer collection is all about the 70’s vibe, marked by its powdery and aged blues combined with more upbeat and bright colors.

 

The good news is that the Zippy Kidstore has just opened!  Zippy is a children’s apparel brand from Portugal which caters to children ages 0 to 14 years.  “We pride ourselves in being an urban brand, characterized by a contemporary style so that children feel cool and comfy. It’s for the the preppy hipster, the expressive and the practical kids.  The store is a one-stop-shopping haven for the whole family.  Our Spring/Summer 2016  collection offers a full line of  apparel, fashionable shoes, accessories as well as  nursery products.  Soon we will have car seats, cribs and strollers in the stores,” says  Karren Alvarez, brand manager of Zippy.

Come on over and shop the  Zippy Spring/Summer collection at Glorietta 3!

Come on over and shop the Zippy Spring/Summer collection at Glorietta 3!

Adorable in white

Cool kids wear Zippy!

 

Last Monday, Zippy hosted an intimate gathering at their flagship store in Glorietta. Select moms and kids got to preview the latest collection from the brand and were treated to fun activities as well.   The children spent quite some time playing with different board and card games.  My 4 year old had a great time as she played a game of  Old Maid with older kids!  Red treat bags were also given to guests so they can have their sweet fill from the candy buffet.  At the far end of the table, there was a pyramid of cupcakes neatly arranged in a cupcake tree holder ready to be decorated by the guests.  Everyone had smiles on their faces as they poured multi-colored sprinkles, pearl beads and dollops of chocolate over the mini  pastries!

The highlight of the event was when the kids were asked to choose anything they liked from the store.   Everything was eye candy so it took a while before everybody got their choices down pat.  Before I knew it, my daughter had a denim Minnie Mouse bag dangling from her arm and promptly announced, “I like this!”  I built her outfit based on her choice.  Faded denim skirt, a light Minnie Mouse top and the cutest floral sneakers with peach ribbons completed her ensemble.  A perfect summer get-up.  Of course, we took photos.  What  fun!

Easy, comfortable and cool get ups at affordable prices!

Easy, comfortable and cool get ups at affordable prices!

 

Aside from the wide, fashion forward selection of apparel, what I like most about Zippy is its competitive price point.  Basic t-shirts sell for P179, ballerina flats for P529,  and sneakers for P659.  It’s definitely a brand that the cool kids will wear and one that all fashionable but practical moms like me will love!

My daughter all dresse up in Zippy clothing. Just look at her adorable floral sneakers!

My daughter all dresse up in Zippy clothing. Just look at her adorable floral sneakers!

 

Zippy stores are located at Level 1, Glorietta 3 and SM North Edsa.

With a pcketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

Tickled Pink

I’m not exactly sure how it happened or why.  I just found myself gravitating to all shades of pink.   Who knew that I would succumb to the color that I shunned for decades — and willingly too!   Up until recently, I did not have anything of this saccharine hue in my wardrobe.  Then the unexplainable happened.   I bought a pair of hot pink shoes and then some accessories.   These purchases may have forever piqued my fashion fervor  to  lean towards Barbie’s favorite color.

For the first time this year, Pantone has chosen the pairing of two shades as color of the year – rose quartz and serenity blue.   According to Pantone’s official page, Rose quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.  Serenity is weightless and airy, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.   Blue has always been the color of any given year for me.  Navy, royal or powder blue – I like it in all its shades.  Now, however, it’s time to explore the  power of pink.

 

Hot  Hues

Hot pink  in small servings works!  Donning sneakers with everything is all the rage now.  Since this is already a striking color,  I suggest wearing these with white, denim or muted apparel.

Aldo pink shoes

Aldo Hot pink Baby Doll Shoes with Velcro Straps: A bargain find in the Camarillo Outlet Stores in California. These pair scores high in both fashion and comfort.

 

Kate Spade x Keds


Kate Spade x Keds – What could be better than sneakers with sparkles?

 

Perfect Pair

I found these ultra comfortable flats from local manufacturer Bella in a Christmas bazaar in the South and was immediately attracted to its animal print design done in pink and blue.  Mix and match these with handmade  accessories  from House of Heirloom and you’re ready to go.

Flats from BELLA and accessories from HOH

Flats from BELLA and accessories from HOH

 

Summer is just a couple of months away!  Enjoy your day in the sun with the roundie Mandala towel from Quiver.

 

Cool colors for summer from QUIVER CLOTHING.

Cool colors for summer from QUIVER CLOTHING.

 

 

 

The Girl In You

 

Rihanna wore volumes of pink when she attended the Grammy’s  last year. Remember her dramatic super last minute entrance in her cupcake gown?   Newly-crowned Ms Universe Pia Wurtzbach donned a terno in pink and white when she made her courtesy call at Malacanang last Tuesday. And just today,  Sofia Vergara walked the red carpet wearing head to toe hot pink in the SAG Awards.  If these women can embrace pink, so can we!

 

Turn heads in these fabulous creations by  Avel Bacudio.

Perfect in pink!

Perfect in pink!

 

Avel Bacudio Spring Summer 2016

Avel Bacudio Spring Summer 2016

 

The new year has brought a lot of changes.   Change is definitely good.  Opening up ourselves to possibilities in small or big doses means we choose to experience life.  My gosh, even my Iphone 6splus is rosegold!   My 4year old daughter certainly approves.  More of my fab finds and adventures next week!

Open up yourself to everything pink this year!

Open up yourself to everything pink this year!

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!
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The Fringe Fever

 

*Fringe (noun) – an ornamental border of threads left loose or formed into tassels or twists which is used to edge clothing or any kind of material

 

This Busy Queen has  been seeing  a lot of  products with fringes in almost all of the display windows of  stores and boutiques  she’s gone to around the metro.   Fringes in bags, shoes, accessories and in clothes are abound and aplenty.  It looks like  this seventies trend which started several seasons back is not slowing down any time soon.

Fringe- Burberry scarves:bucket bag

Burberry fringed scarves and bucket bag from the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection . Photo credit: us.burberry.com

  

 

From Function to Fashion

Just exactly when and how did the use of fringes originate? The American Indians cut the edges of their outerwear to help shed moisture.  As the fringes moved back and forth, their clothes dried faster as water fell to the tips more quickly.   So back then, the focus was more on function and not fashion. The Apache tribe, however, mimicked nature in their clothing and might have used fringes to simulate feathers and wings.  Many years later, in the 1920’s, the skirts got shorter, fringed hemlines went swinging and the flapper look was born. But it was the free-spirited 60’s and 70’s,  that immortalized the hippie-happy fringe look.  Everyone from rockstars to your average Joes and Janes embraced the fringe like they did free love. Four decades later, we now have elite fashion houses such as Miu Miu, Chanel and Gucci breathing new life to the fringe look in their runways and making it a global trend.

 

Into the Swing of Things

 

This column is all about sharing my fabulous finds.   Here, I’ve rounded up products from the affordable to the expensive.  I’m quite sure the fashionista in you is more than willing to give this look a try.  Just how much you want to embrace the craze is totally up to you.

 

Fringe- Penshoppe

Spruce up a solid-colored top with this gold necklace from Penshoppe Accessories. (P350). Be sure to hang this when you keep it to prevent the chains from tangling and also from discoloring.

 

Fringe -ETHNIQUE bags

Fringe Ethnique bags (P2000). May also be used as a clutch since the golden chains are detachable. I’m loving the grey number in the back. Very boho chic!

 

Fringe - ZARA black shoes

It was love at first sight for me when I saw this pair. Black suede high heels with ankle wrap fringes and tassels from ZARA (P4500). Guaranteed to add style points to any ensemble. Also comes in cream.

 

I’m a proud owner of a TALI handmade bag. Women prisoners turned artisans were tapped and taught to make beautiful patterns. This local luxury line empowers the marginalized to afford the basic necessities in life. You can support this socially-conscious business model by purchasing their unique products. Shown here is the GINA big chevron tote (P13,800). Made from plastic straw with genuine leather fringes and tassel.

  

 

Chanel-Lambskin-Fringe-Drawstring-Bag

Turn heads and treat yourself to this gorgeous arm candy! After all, Chanel is always a good option.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the fringe mania is likely to be with us for several seasons more.  Be sure to choose pieces that you can mix and match with whatever is in your closet.   With that said, go ahead and get caught up in the fringe fever!

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Everybody Loves Smiggle!

Eyes Wide Open

I can tell it’s a good product when my children can’t stop tinkering with it.   And that’s exactly what happened when I sat down for an interview with Joyce Reyes.  As soon as she  pulled out her SMIGGLE goodies from big white paper bags , the smiles on the kids’ faces grew bigger and bigger.  My son M and daughter R had their pupils dilated as their mouths formed the word “WOW!”

M picks up a green hard case speaker and says “This is sooo cool!”  Four year old R, on the other hand,  starts to take off the caps of the colorful markers.  “Kids, please put those down,”  I say.   “Don’t worry.  It’s perfectly fine!  The products are really designed for children to explore, poke, prod and play with.  That’s why everybody loves SMIGGLE,”  Joyce laughingly assures.

 

Smile + Giggle = SMIGGLE!

LOVE, WANT, SMIGGLE!

 

SMIGGLE was born in South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia in 2003.  It’s colorful, fun and fashion forward stationery was an instant hit!  Today, it has 100 fun stores Down Under. The brand has gone international too, opening  stores in New Zealand (2008), Singapore(2011) and London (2013).  It was in Sydney where Joyce and her daughter Gabey discovered SMIGGLE.  They found themselves going back and back again to look at the quirky, innovative products. “I guess you can call us die-hard Smigglers! We just kept on coming back to the stores and really liked the products.  So when my daughter asked me if we could bring the  SMIGGLE brand  to the Philippines , I said –Why not?”

 

What Happens When a Smile Meets a Giggle?

I won’t deny it! Even as I was gently reprimanding the kids, I too was smitten!  Just look at these adorable thingamajigs!

Hard Top Bubble Pencil Cases

Top : Zip Hard Top Pencil Case P850, in green, black,purple,pink and teal Bottom: Bloom Hardtop Pencil Case P915, in blue, pink. purple and teal

Top : Zip Hard Top Pencil Case P850, in green, black,purple,pink and teal
Bottom: Bloom Hardtop Pencil Case P915, in blue, pink. purple and teal

 

Smiggle Hard Top Gift Pack

HardTop Gift Pack (P1985) includes a notepad, scented and bendable pencils, colored pens and a ruler.  All the girls would love to own one!

 

Character Strap Lunchboxes

Smiggle Character Lunchboxes

These cute character lunchboxes (P1330)  are made of polyester with two layers of insulated storage, removable carry strap, convenient handle, bottle compartment and double zip openings.

 

Speaker Cases

Bestseller and The BQP’s top pick are these multi-colored speaker cases.  My boy absolutely loves his black SMIIGGLE portable speaker!

Smiggle  speakers

Plug in your cellphone to the speaker (P1185) and listen to your favorite music or watch a movie. Soft touch zip up and embossed graphic designs. Does not include 3AAA batteries BUT guarantees a whole lot of F-U-N!!!

 

It’s in the bag!

Smiggle Lucy Satchel

The Lucy Satchel Bag (P1920 ) comes with interchangeable backpack and shoulder straps. It has an inner front pocket, magnetic closures and an ID card.

 

The BQP is loving these delightful bags too! Will get the pink backpack with ice cream print for my little girl.  Prices available upon request.

The BQP is loving these delightful bags too! Will get the pink Go-Girl Backpack (P1920) with ice cream print for my little girl. Satchel Messenger bags in polka dot prints (P1690).

 

I’m sure you want to get your hands on these  fab delights!  You’ll be glad to know that the SMIGGLE pop-up store will soon open!  For now,  you can visit @smigglelovesph on IG and the brand’s Facebook account for more products.  For orders , please viber 0917 5958658. Gabey and her Mom will also take part in the Kiddo Preneur Bazaar which is happening this Saturday, May 30 at the East Atrium of Shangrila Mall from 9am to 6pm.  Birthday girl Gabey Reyes will donate part of the proceeds to Bantay Bata.

The Reyes kids are all SMIGGLERS!

The Reyes kids are all SMIGGLERS!

 

SMIGGLE is a CERTIFIED BQP MOMMY FIND!

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Shopping In Tokyo – Bargains, Best Deals and Discounts

 

Before I left for Tokyo, some friends who had travelled to the city warned me that they didn’t  get much shopping done.   Asked why, majority said that it’s quite expensive and that the place was only for sightseeing and not for serious retail therapy. Well, not if you’re on a regular tourist budget anyway.   Being the bargain sleuth that I am, I took this a s a challenge.  Here’s my special report on Tokyo shopping and the great bargains,  deals and discounts that I took advantage of.

 

LALA PORT TOKYO BAY (Hamacho, Funabashi, Chiba Perfecture) –  I had high hopes for this mall.  Online info touted it as the largest mall in the area with over 500 shops.  A good 45 minutes via JR line (from out hotel – Grande Sheraton) and a 15 walk from the exit point, this port didn’t  excite me much.  Most of the shops are Japanese brands and most sold winter apparel.  I only got to explore this for an hour at night. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.

 

LaLaport

 

The selection of restaurants are good though.  You can get your Starbucks drink and there’s a Toys R Us store where my daughter bought a Hello Kitty dollhouse –  a prize her daddy gave her for braving the long cold winter walk from the station exit.  We CALLED the taxi company  (with the help of a restaurant manager) and paid 7500 Yen to get back to the hotel.

 

AEON MALL – This mall is very similar to LALA PORT but a liitle  bit more upscale.   I was able to get some good deals at H&M and ZARA and so did my 11 year old.  Discounts ranged from 20 -50%.

AEON Mall

 

A short bus ride will take you across the road to MITSUI OUTLET PARK .  This is a small outlet where you can find KATE SPADE,  MICHAEL KORS, LEVI’s and  FOLLIE FOLLIE.  There’s a NIKE GOLF outlet  (If I played gold, this store  would be heaven! Sadly, I don’t).  Three other stores located on the second floor got us excited- UNDER ARMOUR,  ADIDAS and NIKE.

Mitsui Outlet Park

I bought those cutie nude Nike sneakers forjust a little over a thousand.

There’s a taxi station right outside the mall so that was convenient for us.

DIVER CITY PLAZA– In and earlier post, I told you that we went to GUNDAM FRONT TOKYO ,  and that it was situated inside this mall.  Aside from mainstream brands LACOSTE, H&M and FOREVER 21, this mall had BLACK LABEL and BLUE LABEL by BURBERRY, MARC by MARC JACOBS,  See by CHLOE and AJ (Armani Jeans).

Diver City Plaza

While my boy enjoyed Gundam, mommy had a bit of retail therapy on the side. Haha.

Diver City Shops

Some of the shops at Diver City Plaza.

A five minute drive from DIVER CITY PLAZA  will take you to . VENUS FORT, ODAIBA.  We love this place!!!  ZARA was at 70% (whole store), TOMMY at 50% off,  and DESIGUAL at 50% off.   NIKE  yielded the best buys for my boys, and my littlegirl’s charms worked on her dad (yet again) at the LEGO store.   There’s also ONITSUKA TIGER and a RALPH LAUREN store but discounts were only at 20%.

Venus  Port

The inside of the Fort looks like the Vegas Strip.

 

photo (68)

 

We took plenty of photos here.

We took plenty of photos here.

Our travel agent arranged for a car pick up and a guide to DIVER CITY.  I saw VENUS FORT on the way there and made sure we had enough time to discover the place. GREAT FINDS!!!!

 

 SHISUI PREMIUM OULTETS – You definitely need a car to get here.  All those who have been in the Premium Outlets in the US will surely like it here.  WE DID!!!

Shisui Premium Outlets

Seventy more stores will open by next year!

 

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Can you believe that we were able to get three shirts and a cable knit sweater from the Polo store for just 7000 yen! That’s less than P2500!

 

UGG Store

Love, love the UGG store. At the end of each day, I take a photo of whatever we have purchased then I list everything down.

 

IXPERIA – Just two stops aboard the Disney line from our hotel,  this mall is our favorite!  HILFIGER, CROCS,  and the DISNEY STORE were all on sale.  GAP had its items all marked down and was giving extra discounts on top of that.   I was able to get the best deals for my kids here.

My daughter loves going to the Disney Store here!

 

Had to hand carry boxes of this sumptuous chocolates back to Manila.

Had to hand carry boxes of this sumptuous chocolates back to Manila.

 

I hope you found my tips helpful.   Remember the golden rule  — Buy only what you can afford.  It pays to be a smart shopper!

Until my next post,

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Aranaz – In Full Global Display

Amina Aranaz – Alunan grew up in a creative and business environment. Her mother Becky Aranaz was in the export business and manufactured bags for international labels . So it was but a natural progression for her to try her hand in the same field.  “The time came when we wanted to create our  own designs and have  our  own brand, “ she recalls.  “My Mom had the technical know-how and I had the passion for designing.  Our earliest  products were sold exclusively in bazaars in the nineties.   Women of all ages would come to our table and hoard everything because it was a seasonal event.  Then we started selling from our house – but clients would come at all hours!” she adds animatedly.    “So finally, we decided to open our very first store along Julia Vargas in 2004.”

After college, Amina attended Instituto Marangoni in Milan  where she earned her Masters in Fashion Accessories.   Armed with her degree , she returned to Manila with a firm resolve to make Aranaz a  serious contender in the fashion industry.  Fast forward to today, the brand is now 15 years old —flourishing, in-demand both locally and globally and evolving continually.

 

COLLECTIONS

 

BOQUERIA Resort 2015 –   Inspired by her many travels, Amina decided to make the lively market places as her starting point for her latest collection.    From  the  market stalls of Manila, the souks of  Turkey  to Moroccan bazaars,  she took the colorful, the interesting and the unique.  The result —a line that exudes an artisanal spirit  with  handmade bags that are beautifully made using intricate weaving and masterful handcarving techniques.

 

Aranaz - Lawat Dos

Chic Meets Down-To- Earth. LAWAT DOS -Macrame market bag with leather handles

 

Aranaz - Azure

OFF TO THE MARKET.  AZURE – wicker tote with braided row inserts and woven plastic handles and frame.

 

Aranaz - Delilah

ART IN HER HANDS – DELILAH (L) -rattan wrapped box purse with leather handles and abaca lining.
DOLORES/ROCIO (R) – wood , bead and shell clutches.

 

Aranaz Pina

PIÑA – handcarved wood purse with brass accent and chain

Aranaz - Club Tropicana Collage

FESTIVE AND INSPIRED- BOQUERIA (market place) – bamboo tote with multi-colored raffia fringe and braided handles

 

 

Aranaz - Carrie

“I gave Sarah  Jessica Parker a CARRIE bag when she visited Manila. Her character Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City was my inspiration for this abaca woven tote with braided leather handles”  Amina enthused.  I TOTALLY LOVE THESE BAGS!

 

Aranaz - MAJA

 

Aranaz- 3 clutches

SENORITAS. CONSUELO, CONCHA and CIERRA  (L-R) – handcarved bamboo minaudiere

 

 

 

Aranaz - Coco Luria

COCO LURIA – two-toned coconut purse with brass frame and chain.

 

 

CLUB TROPICANA  – The previous season’s collection  is no less stunning  as the resort line.  Bursting with vibrant colors  and designs, the totes, handbags and clutches are refreshingly original and arresting.

ARANAZ - CLUB TROP Collage

Aranaz - resin clutches

HOW LOVELY ARE THESE! – Handcarved wood cutches in lacquer finish

 

THE QUEEN’S CHOICE

Aranaz- Queen Mathilde

The King and Queen of Belgium. Her royal highness  Queen Mathilde is carrying the GINTO minaudiere from ARANAZ.

 

Truly,  ARANAZ has made its mark in the global market.  The women behind the brand are relentless in their pursuit for excellence.  “My Mom kows what will sell and what will not . My younger sister Rosanna edits and refines my sketches.  We love our work and it shows in our products, ” Amina  remarks finally.

The brand is now being sold online by Harper’s Bazaar, Moda Operandi and Shop Latitude.  Locally, it’s shops are located at Greenbelt 5 (2/f) and at Rockwell Mall (2/f).

Can’t wait to get the Carrie, Rocio and the Palma in blue lacquer!

Aranaz- Shop Collage

Local goes global. Photos taken at the ARANAZ Greenbelt 5 store.

 

 

Aranaz - amina

AMINA ARANAZ-ALUNAN – Putting local craftsmanship in the global stage.

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Vito Studio – The Best of Local Fashion at our Fingertips

VITO STUDIO.COM is a virtual haven of  fashionable goods.   Gowns, cocktail dresses, coats , purses, accessories – they offer the whole stylish gamut.  But what I love about this online store is that everything they sell is made by local designers.  The main  thrust of the website is to showcase local designs to a broader and more global market by making unique pieces by some of the country’s celebrated designers available online.  In its maiden foray in 2009, the website opened with a stellar collection which included creations by fashion mavens Ivarluski Aseron, JC Buendia, Jun Escario, Maureen Disini, Rajo Laurel , Veejay Floresca and Yvonne Quisumbing, to name a few.

I was only too thrilled to be invited to the VITO STUDIO VIP showroom in Bel-Air by one half of the duo behind the brand –  the  effervescent Bianca Salonga.  (Corrine Alegre was indisposed.)   Bianca ushered me inside the receiving parlour and we started to talk. “Corine and I  are long time friends from Assumption College and we  both had previously worked in fashion magazines.  We decided to be entrepreneurs rather than remain as employees.  With the connections we had  made in our work, we started VITO STUDIO.COM.  Corine selects the merchandise  that we carry while I’m responsible for the marketing side,“ Bianca explained.  “The brand is a tribute to my grandfather JOVITO SALONGA, hence the name VITO STUDIO, “ she proudly added.

Vito- Duo

The beautiful ladies behind the brand – Corine Alegre and Bianca Salonga.

 

THE BQP’S TOP PICKS

The Ears Have It

Ear Sliders by MARIA

With these ,  you’ll have every reason to tuck your locks behind your lobes.

VITO- Ear sliders 1

Slider earrings by MIA – From Top Right (clockwise) – 1. Full safety pin 2. Tri-cap 3.Triple X and 4. Zipper.  All have sapphire stones.  Price Range PHP4,500 to 6,500.

VITO Ear sliders 2

Top Right (clockwise) 1. Multi Layer Slider 2. Rose Leaf Slider 3.Three Layer Slider 4. Dangling Pear Slider.

 

Precious Arm Candies

Minaudiere Muse

VITO Heart's Purses

TOP ROW: Actress Heart Evangelista completes her outfit with this enamel clutch by MIA ARCENAS (PHP18,000)
BOTTOM ROW: I’m sure you want this bejewelled beauty by NICOLE WISEHUNT! (PHP34,850)

 

Janina Dizon’s Colorful Clutch Bags

Made of  ostritch, lamb and stingray leather, these bags are both fun and fashionable. But what makes these creations extra special is the solitaire diamond setting on the front .   A jewel of a find , don’t you agree?

VITO JANINA DIZON purses

My choice – the blue grey with apple green combination.

 

Purses by CARABAO

VITO Carabao Purses

MUST-HAVE!!! I ordered the bronze and the black purses. My friend AVA carried her CARABAO purse in beige at a fashion event we recently attended. (PHP6,600)

 

Heavenly Creations

Greek Goddess

VITO Grecian Dresses

I LOVE THESE! (L-R) 1 . Chiffon dress in blush  by ERIC DELOS SANTOS (PHP 10,000) 2. Chiffon dress in hot pink by ERIC DELOS SANTOS  (PHP 10,000) 3.Jersey dress in grey by MARTIN BAUTISTA. (PHP18,000)

 

    J is for Jumpsuit

VITO JUMPSUITS

(L-R) 1. Black One Shoulder Jumpsuit by MARTIN BAUTISTA 2. White Jumpsuit with cut-out detail by PABLO CABAHUG and 3. Nautically-inspired jumpsuit by MAUREEN DISINI. Prices available upon request.

 All the Pretty Dresses

VITO - All the Pretty Dresses

LEFT- White dress with black beaded details by JC BUENDIA . RIGHT (top) – Black and nude cocktail dress by JUN ESCARIO. RIGHT (bottom) Silver and black geometric dress by RONALDO ARNALDO. Prices available upon request.

 

Chevron Chic

VITO - MISSONI

Ladies, gotta have these in our closets! Collection by ERIC DELOS SANTOS

 

The Black Pack

VITO LUCY BW

Lucy Torres looks regal in this black and white number by JUN ESCARIO.

 

VITO MOLLY Black Collage

MOLLY Maxi dress (PHP2,500). Cuff and minaudiere also available at VITO STUDIO.

 

Plum Perfect

VITO Perfect in PLUM

Photographer Sarah Black wore this plum tulle skirt by JC BUENDIA to the Mega Pinoy Pride Ball. Lower right picture shows a plum balloon skirt also by JC BUENDIA. Prices available upon request.

 

Women Who Wear VITO 

VITO celebrity clients

These celebrities are fans of the virtual brand.

THE LAST WORD 

Online shopping  can be frustrating! I myself have wasted money on clothes that look so good in pictures but turn out to be oh-so-ugly when delivered.   Scheming sellers put up flawless pictures and  use different filters  to dupe their customers.  So be careful before you purchase!

Vito Studio’s collections are very well curated by its owners.  They carefully select and inspect each and every time before these are sent to clients.  What is shown on the pictures is exactly what you’ll get.  In fact, I’ve seen some designs that look plain in print but are so fabulous up front!  Yes, you pay more for designer creations – but you’ll also get more mileage from these one-of-a-kind masterpieces than you ever will from designer duds or designers “inspired”  (which means poor copy or fake, really)  merchandise.

The BQP bestows her seal of approval to Vito Studio.  In fact, she has ordered  some items already!  Visit their  website at VITOSTUDIO.COM.  You can also check the brand’s Facebook page and Instagram.  VITO STUDIO ships both locally and internationally.

Let’s support our Filipino designers and entrepreneurs.  VIVA VITO STUDIO!

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The Essential Michael Kors

It’s safe to say that a fourth of my closet is occupied by Michael Kors.  My love for Mr.  Kors started with his oversized watches.  As time went on, I gravitated to  patronizing his handbags, his dresses and his shoes.  Michael Kors, famous American designer and resident judge in Heidi Klum’s long running  reality fashion show (PROJECT RUNWAY) , continues to amaze  the fans with his clean and modern designs.

 

In my recent trip to Singapore, I visited his boutique at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.  I’ve been to quite a few MK boutiques abroad but this particular store stood out.   The bags that were displayed on the window were new designs that I hadn’t seen before.

LUXE BAGS

The salesperson inside the boutique was very friendly.  I commented that the bags were very beautiful and felt very luxurious.  She said the bags I was referring to were all made especially for the high end Singapore boutique.  Below are some bags that I particularly liked.

 

 

MK oversized Black Bag

This black number is made of real leather with crocodile skin pockets on the side. Retails at about SGD1400

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I have always favored the camel/tan/brown colored bags (See ZARA post) and I saw one that really tugged at my heartstrings.

MK Oversized Linen brown bag

Made of linen-like fabric and crocodile leather, this bag belongs in the BQP’s arm!

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This particular bag costs as much as a PRADA.   She sure is irresistible!

MK oversized snakeskin bag

Beautiful, elegant and useful. This oversized snakeskin tote is a keeper!

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I didn’t find this in the Singapore store but rather in my e-mail today.  Just wanted to share —  It’s Selma reinvented!

MK Selma Snakeskin

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DESIGNER LOOK-ALIKES

I was amused to see that some bags look like designs from other designer labels.

Is that you Kate?

MK- Kate polka

The colors, the patterns — For a moment I thought I was in a KATESPADE boutique

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Louis V in Michael’s Boutique!

MK Neverfull

It’s the long lost twin of LV’s Neverfull!

THE BQP’s COLLECTION

Here are some of my favorite pieces from Mr. Kors.

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Snakeskin heels

Loved the shoes more than the bag so I adopted this pair and gave them a home :)

Loved the shoes more than the bag so I adopted this pair and gave them a home 🙂

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Cream wedge and brown belt with dangling logo

i don't mind spending for fabulous shoes.

These are very comfortable on the feet.

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Golden Girl

I wore this MK gold bag at the JLO concert.  It was my birthday. :)

I wore this MK gold bag at the JLO concert. It was my birthday. 🙂

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Med-size watch with Swarovski stones

Love this bejewelled MK watch.  If you like the nail art here, watch out for my upcoming post devoted exclusively to that!

Love this bejewelled MK watch. If you like the Hello KIitty nail art here, watch out for my upcoming post devoted exclusively to that!

All of us have our preferred brands.  We keep on buying from the same label because we feel comfortable wearing them and their style suits our tastes.  This is the reason why I am a loyalist and true Michael Kors fan.

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