Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi, my name is Dina Meier and I am the owner of aaina & co.
aaina & co is a fashion accessories brand with a twist, how I would call it, because the why is more important than the what.
There is a wise word from Ghandi which is the foundation of my daily living and also for the business - “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
In my first collection I focused on 18k gold plated stainless steel jewellery which reflects the wearer’s inner beauty of their natural soul. Each piece comes in an eco-friendly triangular vegan leather purse.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I was born and raised in the Swiss Alps. From an early age, my father, who was a very successful business owner, introduced me to all sorts of business strategies.
It led up to the point that when I started going to high school and wanted to work at McDonalds, he forbade me from working at the said fast food joint and instead made me help him with his accounting. His idea was that one day I would take over his company. He always pushed me to want and achieve more.
At the age of 24, I opened a little boutique in a small town in Switzerland, where I sold artisan products, some of them being my own designs, from all over Asia. This allowed me to follow my passion for travelling, all the while encountering different cultures. Two years later, I opened my second boutique in Zurich.
Soon, Switzerland became too small for me. Thus, at the age of 30 I decided to spread my wings and move to Bali which was my home for almost 5 years and where I owned two apparel stores. Subsequently, I settled in Sydney, Australia. Sydney has now been my home for over 7 years. My upbringing and the time I spent in Asia led up to the foundation of the why’s and how’s of aaina & co.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
The motivation behind my journey came from all the guidance my father provided me with since I was a young kid. Him having a business definitely made me gain more exposure to how everything worked. But one thing that I'd like to point out is that I always had strong ideas, I was a champ at coming up with new ways to create something different. That's why I'd like to offer the readers a piece of advice, never be afraid of taking risks! One way or another, they'll always lead you up to a path that you can further explore to gain new experiences!
Soon enough, at the age of 24, I travelled to Vietnam where I fell in love with a 180 kg white marble buddha which I could not resist buying and which was the reason I started my career as a home and gift shop owner. Two years later, I opened my second shop.
My passion grew stronger and my thirst to explore the world helped me open two apparel shops in Bali. 5 years later I moved to Australia and started producing leather bags and fashion jewellery with my ex partner.
That's the story of how I was led up to aaina & co. I registered my brand a year back from today and launched it in November last year! The motivation behind aaina & co. is, in simple terms, me. "Aaina" is a word derived from the Urdu/Hindi language which stands for "mirror" or "same as something". My brand is “me”, it holds all my passion and ideals, it is the embodiment of my determination to help others and to spread the message of love to the world! The "& co." stands for all the highly skilled professionals that I get to work with! All those people who help me expand my business and help me spread my message to the are like family to me.
I'd like to explain a bit about what my brand actually is! I am a vegan myself and I like to promote an eco-friendly and cruelty-free lifestyle for the betterment of the environment. The leather I use is made of water based microfiber. I also aim to donate 10% of the profits to charity. Saba’s Kids was founded a few years ago by Saba, a well known Swiss artist and her husband Jess, which are good friends of mine. The charity is supporting children in Bali whose parents can’t afford education.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
aaina & co was only launched about 8 months ago. The brand is still in early stages, but I'm working day and night into expanding it and I can proudly say that it is evolving at a very fast rate. I am truly motivated to accomplish anything! I would say that I'm doing great nowadays, I have so much more planned for my brand. Despite the fact that I'm working almost day and night, my effort is truly bearing fruit and I am absolutely in love with it!
I personally don't think that only numbers and figures indicate the success of a business but more so the impact one has on the society.
For the future, I have quite a lot of ideas up my sleeve! I'll be expanding my business over to Switzerland and possibly Italy. I am also planning on collaborating with an international ex -model to launch a joint limited edition collection! My vision for the brand is to not only focus on jewellery but also expand over to other fashion accessories as well.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Since I started my business, what I've learned has kept me going on for so long. Through various experiences, I can confidently say that you should always follow your intuition. Learn to listen to people, understand their opinions and their suggestions.
Having a positive outlook on life, I believe there is no such thing as a mistake. You might refer to it as a different choice that can lead you up to a new path where you can explore new things and get to make new choices. Similarly, I don't believe in the concept of luck, whatever you achieve, it comes from your hard work and dedication.
The path ahead of you might seem difficult now, but if you are following your passion you are doing nothing wrong, you're definitely on the right track.
Throughout my journey, I've learned that there's so much more to this world than what meets the eye. It's filled with so many people, each with his/her own story, own ideals, own point of views. Love is the emotion that keeps us all going.
If I were to talk a bit more about myself then personally, I'm a highly organized person and a perfectionist! I'm a designer, a mother and a business woman. I believe in being spontaneous, planning too far into the future is not beneficial because "the mind can only plan what the mind knows", so one should always be open to new ideas.
I love to grow and expand my point of view. I've always been into yoga and keeping a positive mind set and I like to help and inspire people.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I definitely find Shopify a great tool. The 3rd party apps which I am currently using are:
- Auto Currency Switcher
- Email & Marketing Automation by Omnisend
- Free Popups & Banners - Pixelpop
- Intuit QuickBooks Online
- Product Personalizer
- Product Reviews
- SEO Image Optimizer by Booster Apps
- SEO Ranger
- Wholesale Club
Apart from that, I have multiple people on freelancer that are working with me. I also use Instagram to get a broader reach out into the world and target a larger audience.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I've always been motivated to surround myself with positivity and success, thus I absolutely adore Gandhi, he is my role model. I've also read "The Secret" and I am following the twitter page Billionaire Mindset to get a better business mindset and keep myself determined.
Apart from the above mentioned influences, I've done yoga and meditation to achieve peace of mind, I truly believe that it is what has led me to having such an outlook on life. I also like reading poems about love to keep me reminded of the fact that there's so much love one can spread in this world to keep others happy!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I would like to guide all the entrepreneurs out there by advising them to always believe in themselves and follow your passion. Always be open to change. Ultimately a lot of people hesitate to follow their dream out of a fear of failure, but what about the regrets of not having given it a go?
The path ahead of you might seem difficult now, but if you are following your passion you are doing nothing wrong, you're definitely on the right track. Your passion and determination should be your drive to accomplish your goals, so be sure to give it your all and stay true to yourself!
Where can we go to learn more?
- [email protected]
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