Inspiring Filipinas To Succeed
By Linda Dela Cruz
Loida Nicolas Lewis (left), a billionaire who is the richest Filipina in the U.S., with Gina Alexander
In seminars to empower others, photo handbag entrepreneur Gina Alexander shares her story of how she became a millionaire. "I'm an open person and want others to succeed," she says. "If I have something special, why not share it? It would be selfish for me to keep it."
What woman wouldn't want a bag that showcases a picture of her most precious loved ones? She launched the company as a way to subsidize her wish to adopt her own precious loved one - a child. "I'm a handbag fanatic," admits Alexander, who started the company in 2000 and adopted her daughter, Katelyn, when she was 2 weeks old, in 2003.
"Handbags are a woman's best friend - it has everything we need, so it meets an emotional need of ours."
With 6,000 square feet of Los Angeles-based office and warehouse space, Alexander easily attracted a celebrity clientele. That led her to expand her business to include the Jimi Hendrix Collection, an exclusive line of handbags and leather jackets with the entertainer's image on them. In fact, when it was time for a scheduled interview with MidWeek, Alexander was on a tour bus with the Hendrix crew. She says she chose handbags because it allows her to have time for a family - and it's her family she credits for her success.
"My best training was from my parents, Cesar and Imelda Lopez - they were the first Filipino couple to own a Denny's franchise in the United States in California," says Alexander, who spent the first five years of her life in Hawaii. "We owned hotels, restaurants, a limo service and a lot of property."
Alexander was honored last month as one of the 100 most influential Filipina Women in the United States at the Filipina Women's Network fifth annual Filipina Summit.
"We need more Filipina entrepreneurs," urges Alexander. "Alot of women need mentors, plus we have so many needs in the Philippines that need to be taken care of, like adopting children who are abandoned."
When MidWeek asked why she wants to empower other women, she said she wished she had had a mentor by her side. "I love to see others succeed," she explains. "I rejoice in other people's successes. The tools I have learned give me so much freedom, and having financial freedom is awesome. I get to travel, shop, go to seminars that cost thousands of dollars and gain a lot of knowledge."
The former jewelry designer trained in fashion design in Europe. She did marketing, forecasting and merchandising for Sue Wong Couture, Rampage Clothing Co., RAFE and Isabella Fiore. But running a corporation is no easy task, Alexander admits.
"The biggest challenge in my company is money," she says. "Our company is growing, so keeping up with new machineries and technology is not cheap. I have a high standard for my handbags. Every stitch has to be straight, every leather consistent, and I only want the best hardware from Italy. We have opened a new division 'licensing,'and it has been a challenge, but a healthy challenge. The perks are that I get to work with celebrities and rock stars up-close and personal."
Alexander says everyone has their own strengths, and she considers her strength to be creating. For a successful enterprise, Alexander believes companies need five things: someone who handles the money and is frugal; a good customer-service team; a great website director; a publicist who will get the company in all the magazines; and, finally, a product that gives value to the customer.
She says one of the secrets of her success is that she does not focus on the competition. "We are more concerned with the inside of the company," explains Alexander about her 15 employees. "If the heart is not healthy, the whole body cannot function. We go out of our way to teach our employees that how you do your job here is the habit you are creating for your life for eternity."
Alexander donates a portion of the proceeds from every bag to the Hope For Children charity, which helps families who want to adopt. "I love my life and what I do. I'm living the life I love!" gushes Alexander.
She soon will be launching www.FilipinaMillionaire.com.
AZN - Asian Excellene Awards
Los Angeles, CA
The AZN, Asian Excellence Awards were presented in a televised ceremony on Monday, May 28th and sponsored by JC Penney. Honorees included Chow Yun Fat, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Vivenne Tam. And of course, GINA ALEXANDER was there to present many of the outstanding celebrities with their very own GINA ALEXANDER PHOTO BAGS! Presenters and entertainment included Quentin Tarantino, Rob Schneider, Elizabeth Rohm, Margaret Cho and Lou Diamond Phillips! Here, holding their GINA ALEXANDER PHOTO BAGS are the hot stars of the night: TIA CARERRE, APL FROM THE BLACK EYED PEAS, OSCAR WINNER GEOFFREY RUSH OF PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN, AND THE FABULOUS SANJAYA MALAKAR (WITH HIS MOM!)
Celebrating Apls' Birthday
Hollywood & Highland, Hollywood, CA
Gina Alexander walked the Red Carpet at Apl De.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas' birthday celebration. The celebration was held in Hollywood at the Hollywood and Highland Complex. Gina came with a personal gift for Apl De.Ap. She designed an image using his party image inviation. Apl De.Ap gave the handbag to his mother who absolutely loved the handbag of her son. She toted it around the party all night. Gina also was able to hang out with Dancing with the Stars' - Cheryl Burke and then talked together about how they were going to design Cheryl's own Gina Alexander photo handbag with her personal photos.
The Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan's Annual Holiday Party
House of Blues, Hollywood, CA http://www.rowellfosterchildren.org/
Good friend, Victoria Rowell of The Young and the Restless, held her annual Positive Plan's Annual Holiday Party. This year's party was held at the House of Blues in Hollywood, CA. The holiday party brings together all the foster children in Los Angeles for a great time of gifting and celebration with Victoria and her celebrity friends. Included this year was a special award ceremony for Samuel Jackson. Gina Alexander was in attendance with her adopted daughter, Katie. Katie was invited by Victoria to help her in distributing all the donated gifts to the foster children at the party. She was also able to meet R&B singer Shanice who performed at the party. While there, Gina Alexander was able to meet actress, Angela Bassett who was able to share her own surrogacy experiences.
Reef Check Hawaii's Run For The Reefs Luau by Vonage
Waikiki, HI http://www.reefcheckhawaii.org
Hawaii's own Kelly Hu and Reef Check Hawaii invited Gina Alexander to a very special evening, beachside at the Sheraton Waikiki for Reef Check Hawaii's Run For The Reefs Luau by Vonage. Kelly Hu. whose starring roles include Scorpion King and X2, and Carl Lewis, winner of 9 Olympic Gold Medals co-hosted the evening. Other stars who attended included 8 time world champion surfer Kelly Slater, Jason Scott Lee, Lance Bass, Reichen Lehmkuhl, Mimi Rogers, Jonathan Silverman, Daniel Dae Kim, and Mario Lopez. Gina Alexander donated to the silent auction her popular photo handbags. Lance Bass was one of the many celebrities who signed up to win Gina's photo handbag that evening! It was a great evening supporting a great cause. Gina's love for the islands stems from her own personal childhood growing up in Hawaii.
The Premiere Show
The Trya Banks Show - http://tyrashow.warnerbros.com/
Tyra kicked off her new talk show, speaking to and empowering women of her generation. She gave one young woman an emotional “Makeover for Life,” and visited the DMV to show real women how to take a better driver’s license photo. Amongst all the hype of The Premiere Show, Tyra invited Gina Alexander to be a part of all the excitement by asking Gina to gift her live audience. Gina obliged by giving everyone in her audience a complimentary personalized Gina Alexander cosmetic bag! Tyra returned the favor by featuring Gina Alexander handbags and accessories during one of her photo fabulous products segments for Valentines Day. Thanks Tyra!
Mother's Day Celebration
The Dr. Phil Show - http://www.drphil.com/
Gina Alexander celebrated with Dr. Phil's Wife - Robin McGraw during the 'Mother's Day Celebration' on the Dr.Phil Show. Robin was gifted a Gina Alexander handbag one Mother's Day from her sons, Jay and Jordan. During the Mother's Day Celebration Show, Robin featured her favorite Mother's Day gifts over the years. Robin said this about her Mother's Day gift from her sons about her Gina Alexander Candy Bag, "This one, I think, is absolutely the cutest, and sweetest and most precious gift I've ever received from the boys ... It's our photo on a beautiful Gina Alexander photo bag." She then proceeded to inform the audience that they will all be receiving their own Gina Alexander Cosmetic Bag compliments of Gina Alexander. The audience went crazy!
The 47th Annual Grammy Awards
Los Angeles, CA
Event coordinators, Distinctive Assets invited Gina Alexander to participate in the 47th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. The event was to congratulate and honor Grammy nominees, presenters and performers with gifts. Gina Alexander gifts were greatly received due to the cooperation of Distinctive Assets in providing confirmed attendance with select celebrities for Gina to pre-design gifts. Recipients of Gina Alexander gifts at the Grammy's were: Tim McGraw (leather wallet), Joss Stone (couture wristlet), Penelope Cruz (cosmetic bag), Green Day (leather wallets), Gretchen Wilson (cosmetic bag) , Jennifer Lopez (cosmetic bags), Lisa Marie Presley (couture wristlet) , Lynard Skynard (leather wallets), Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas (leather coin purse), Usher's mother (nicole baguette), Usher (leather wallet), Kanye West (leather wallet), Maroon 5 (leather wallets) and Destiny's Child (leather coin purses) just to name a few.
Country Music Awards
Las Vegas, NV
Event coordinators, Distinctive Assets invited Gina Alexander to be a part of gifting for the Country Music Awards held in Las Vegas, NV at the Mandalay Bay Resorts. Gina Alexander was greatly received and appreciated by all celebrities in attendance. Some of the recipients of Gina Alexander gifts include: Julie Roberts (handbag), Emily Proctor - CSI: Miami (handbag), Terri Clark (handbag), Sugarland (handbag), Montgomery Gentry (canvas wallets), Josh Turner (messenger bag), Dolly Parton (cosmetic bag), Sarah Evans (handbag) and Dr.Phil (canvas wallet).
BET Music Awards 2004
Distinctive Assets hosted a gift lounge for all the presenters, nominees and performers of the 2004 BET Music Awards in Hollywood at the Renaissance Hotel. Gina Alexander was asked to participate in the gifting of top celebrities. Recipients of Gina Alexander gifts included: Victoria Rowell (handbag), Ashanti (handbag with bamboo handles), Chili of TLC (handbag), Nick Cannon (notebook bag), 50 Cent (notebook bag), Jennifer Locke- American Idol (handbag), Kim Fields (handbag) and Run DMC to name a few.
BET Music Awards 2005
Gina Alexander has become known as 'the' gift to give celebrities who have everything which is why event coordinators, Distinctive Assets has continually requested the attendance of Gina Alexander at a majority of their celebrity events during the year. Gina was again in attendance for BET's Music Awards held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The event was a packed out night of all the top black entertainers of the world. Many already familiar with Gina Alexander products, were eager to see if there was a surprise for them in this year's gifting lounge. Some of the recipients this year include: Gladys Knight (handbag and cosmetic bag), Lisa Raye - NBC's All of Us (cosmetic bag), Omarosa - The Apprentice (candy bag), Grammy winner - John Legend (canvas wallet), Kim Whitley (tote bag), Chantel Lattimore (handbag), Kenny Lattimore (notebook bag) and Omarion (canvas wallet).
Living Local with the Baraquios
Honolulu, HI http://www.livinglocal.tv/
Gina Alexander was featured on the popular hawaiian hit talk show, Living Local with the Baraquios. Living Local was created by Miss America 2001 - Angela Perez Baraquio, and her sisters. The show features local highlights of island living and the many wonderful rendezvous of Hawaii. In this segment, the Baraquio sisters enjoy personalized gifts by Gina Alexander featuring one of their Living Local photographs. Gina was able to share with the Baraquios her story on how Gina Alexander, Incorporated was created and her heart and personal story with adoptions. Angela and Gina have become good friends from this experience and are now working together on a special event collaborating with the Hoku Award winners' - hawaiian group Na Leo and Janie Hendrix (sister and executrix of the Jimi Hendrix Estate), to shed light on some great philanthropic causes.
Matthew McConaughey's Charity benefitting the Boys Lodge of Los Angeles
Gina Alexander partnered up with Camden Media in a charity event hosted by Matthew McConaughey. The annual event benefits the Boys Lodge of Los Angeles. Every year Matthew hosts a golf tournament and an auction with his friends, family and colleagues. This year it was held at the prestigious and private Lakeside Toluca Lake Country Club where all proceeds from the event go directly to the support of the kids at the Boys Lodge of Los Angeles. Matthew has been involved with this non-profit organization for many years. This year, Gina Alexander donated complimentary items for Matthew's silent auction. Gina also gifted Matthew a photo handbag with his image on it for his mother and a personalized image leather printed wallet for himself. The day was filled with guests like Penelope Cruz, Dennis Quaid, Carson Daly and Andy Garcia to name just a few.
Oprah Winfrey's Backstage at The Color Purple
New York, NY
Gina Alexander and good friend Janie Hendrix (sister and executrix of the Jimi Hendrix Estate), were both invited backstage to meet and celebrate the shows success while visiting in New York. Gina met the cast of The Color Purple - LaChanze (Celie), Elisabeth Withers-Mendes (Shug Avery), Felicia Fields (Sophia) and celebrity guest, Mo' Nique of hit shows 'The Parkers' & Mo'Nique's Fat Chance. Gina's handbags were recognized and praised by all who have their very own Gina Alexander handbag. Gina is in the midst of working with LaChanze in creating her own personalized photo handbags.