The 12-Year-Old Designer Making Bags For Good

Paulina Anchia is only 12 years old. But she became the youngest speaker at the Latin American Fashion Summit last November, when she took the stage alongside figures like designer Carolina Herrera. 

The young designer and her mom Betty Martinez have cultivated a cult following in Puerto Rico with their handbag line Beamina and have raised awareness about human trafficking through a major partnership with the Ricky Martin Foundation. The line features colorful velvet bags and neutral totes for everyday life – all adorned with their signature star logo. 

We chatted with Betty Martinez about her daughter’s success and why Beamina uses its platform for good. 

How was Beamina born?

Beamina started because Paulina was interested in creating a latine of bags that could have a global impact and purpose. My grandmother, Lily Greer, would make our clothes growing up. She had exquisite taste. We always dreamed of someone in our family to inherit her talent. When Paulina asked for a sewing machine at age 6, the entire family started celebrating. 

Where did the name come from? 

When Paulina was born, her brother could not pronounce her name, so he’d call her Amina. We all started calling her that in the family. When we started searching for a name for the brand, we went back to Amina and found out it means “a person that’s protected from fear.” That’s why we called it Beamina, as in Be-Amina. 

How would you describe the line?

The line is a mix of modern and classic. It’s made for a versatile woman who likes to dress well and enjoys being very feminine. 

If you had to choose a favorite piece, what would it be?

The “Fearless” collection is one of our favorite because of what it represents. It was also our first bag so it means a lot to us. 

What’s your creative process like?

Paulina is the one who designs all the bags and then I take care of the commercial side. We know how to complement each other and find solutions that work for our clients and the line. It’s really all about the passion and love we pour into the line. We give every piece and every move a purpose and that, I think, transcends beyond a bag. 

Beamina also partners with non-profit organizations, what is the role of charity in your brand?

I think fashion has a massive reach that can spread important messages. We’ve focused in raising awareness about human trafficking on a global scale. We partnered with the Ricky Martin Foundation to raise funds and educate our community about this issue. 

Frances Solá-Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, based in New York City. She is the editor-in-chief on Emperifollá. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Glamour Magazine, Numéro, Refinery29, Remezcla, and Bustle.

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