FROM writing articles in newspapers and magazines, this UST Journalism graduate’s way to success was paved by the internet and fashion.

Back in high school, accessory designer Ana Gonzales admitted she was not a very stylish person. Her only fashion concern back then was the outfit she wore during Sunday mass.

But having obsession for accessories, the simple hand-crafted trinkets she made as special gifts to her friends soon turned into a potential business venture.

Gonzales now designs and sells different accessories, from bracelets to rings, on her online shop, Anagon Collection.

When she entered college, her crafty hobby earned an audience among her peers and professors. Because of the strong support, Gonzales also decided to put up an online blog, “ANAGON: The Fashionista Commuter,” in her junior year.

Now a familiar face in the fashion blogosphere, she gave credit to magazines like Candy and Good Housekeeping for influencing her style and making her fall in love with fashion.

With her trending blog and a small capital to start off, Gonzales turned what was once just a hobby in high school into a full-time online shop.

“I used to make my all-girl friends some crafts with their names on them. I didn’t really sell these things back then. Eventually, it became my business,” said Gonzales, who graduated in 2007.

From writing to business

Growing up in a middle-income family, Gonzales would save money from her allowance to buy Candy magazines every month when she was in high school.

Her fascination with the adolescent fashion publication encouraged her to contribute articles as part of Candy’s "Council of Cool" when she was in college.

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“I used to collect Good Housekeeping magazines that usually feature one page fashion articles and when Candy magazine came out, I started to make my own stuff,” she said.

The magazine’s fashion spreads would leave her inspired to make her own accessories.Using simple handmade things from pencil cases to shampoo bottles became herspringboard in refining her craft in the large world of bazaars and online blogging.

“Back then, I just make accessories without anyone to sell it to. I would also make some for my friends. We were 16 in the group, and I would make stuff for all of them. I never expected that it would become a source of income for me,” the former Thomasian Cable Television member said.

Gonzales said she learned a lot in taking up Journalism, especially in Feature writing where their professor, Manila Bulletin editor Nestor Cuartero, asked them to write on a variety of topics.

“Unfortunately, I did not join any writing organizations like the Varsitarian and the Flame in college,” Gonzales said, who instead joined Artistang Artlets, official theater guild of the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

After graduation, she tried to apply for a job in publishing, knowing in her heart shewanted to work for Candy magazine. But after a while, because of varying interests, it seemed as if she could not figure out what she really wanted to pursue.

Her sister told her then to sign up on Multiply, a social-networking site turned online market, so that she could showcase her products to a wider range of customers.

“This is the reason why I believe in self-employment. It has merged my passions in both business and art,” Gonzales said.

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From simple college rackets

The online entrepreneur began to sell her handmade products in her junior year back in December 2005. Gonzales said that she started with selling simple anklets for P20, then with handmade earrings that soon got the attention of people from outside her block.

“My trinkets got into every classroom and one time, one of my professors bought an item from me too,” she said. “Sabi ko, money-generating rin pala yung business na itokaya ginawa ko nang full-time.”

As a beginner in the market, she worked hard from scratch to manage an online shop and a fashion blog because she could no longer depend on an allowance from her parents.

“In the online world, there are a lot of critics. Back then, I could not handle them, theywere really painful. I learned that you needed to be thick-skinned and confident to survive,” Gonzales said.

The fashion enthusiast began promoting her products in Candy after becoming part of their team before. After two years, she reached out prominent fashion bloggers likeLaureen Uy for them to showcase her products to customers.

When her products clicked, she noticed that some amateur bloggers copied her designs, such as the bracelets and necklaces with wired names, and sold them at lower prices.

“It feels a bit insulting when they copy something from you, then sell them at more affordable prices. But I learned how to ignore them,” she said.

She said that she does not only get her inspiration for her products in fashion. Exposure to anything good and interesting like a poem helps influence her designs.

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“I don’t really need a lot of inspiration. Sometimes, a poem strikes me and would motivate me to make my own interpretation of it,” Gonzales said.

But through all her hard-earned success, Gonzales has bigger dreams ahead. She envisions putting up a lifestyle boutique, equipped with a coffee shop and bookstore, so that she could help with the unemployment in the Philippines.

“I think that’s the dream of most entrepreneurs, to employ more people to help them have jobs, right?” she said.

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