Taking a chance and making a change in life does not always come easy. There are the finical aspects of it as well as the psychological aspects, but California native Amanda Tjan has been able to conquer that and more. Tjan attended Boston College and while there studied abroad in Madrid. “ I fell in love with the city,” she said. “ I wanted to come back.” And after graduating in 2011, that’s exactly what she did. She moved to Madrid to teach English and continued to fall in love with the city. “ With the city, and not a boy,” she clarified. Always a fan of fashion, Tjan noticed, “in Madrid- and Spain in general- they’re about 2 years behind as far as fashion goes and there’s not a lot of variation.” So she took it upon herself to change that and start her own jewelry line: Manda Unchained.
“Manda in Spanish is the command form for the word to demand. The idea of Manda Unchained is to demand what you want, to be bold and feel free to break out of your chains and to be a confident strong woman,” Tjan explains. In addition to her women empowerment message, she is also starting to do men’s pieces as well. For two years, she taught English in Madrid and at the same time met local designers, shop owners, and people in the fashion industry who helped her with her own dreams. “My friend has a store that’s pretty well known in Madrid and she was like ‘I’ll sell your ring bracelets’ and so I started out with that.” Her products soon expanded into a variety of jewelry pieces all inspired from her travels and the different cultures she’s experienced. “I was born in Southern California, and since then I’ve lived in Boston, New York, and now Madrid. Each place has taught me something different and formed a part of my personality and style, which I think is reflected in my jewelry.” Now when she travels, she is constantly looking for new stones and different elements to use in her pieces as well as taking things she sees and reinterpreting them into her own original design.
But with success comes difficulty. “I hate social networking, “ Tjan said. “So one of the hardest things was learning how to use social network properly because it’s super important nowadays to get followers and to get likes. It’s important to make a name for yourself on Facebook and particularly Instagram and that was really tough.” Another difficulty was appealing to her local consumers. “My never ending battle is being based in Madrid and they’re a little bit behind and they’re not necessarily like yes I see something I love and no one else has it I’m going to go for it,” Tjan said. “I’ve sort of had to start a trend here like no don’t be afraid to wear it, go for it and wear it with confidence.” Making her mark in Madrid has definitely been a challenge for her. But her life has changed in great ways including finding her passion. “I’ve always liked fashion since I was little,” she shares, “but I was sort of afraid of entering the industry. I knew how difficult it could be. I was like I’ll just study business and work at a marketing agency and that’ll be that.” But once she moved to Madrid, her perspective changed and she realized she didn’t want to go the route many of her friends did: getting jobs at banks and agencies. “When I started the jewelry [comapny] I said, wait I can actually do this.”
So what does Tjan have in store next? Exactly that: a store. “I’m hoping that in the next 10 years I’ll have my own jewelry showroom that’ll also have a collection of clothing from local designers that I like.” “I’m also looking to move to different cities to grow as a designer.” With plans to grow her jewelry line within the next two to five years and the goal of opening a store in ten, we have no doubt Tjan is on her way to continued success. She overcame her fears and found her niche in fashion while making fashion forward moves in Spain. Now that’s true confidence. Tell us how you are breaking the mold in the comments below.
By Brelaun Douglas / Courtesy Photos