The Love of My Life
Hi. I’m Yevgenia Aleksandrovna Yushkova, or simply YAY. I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself, my ideas, and my passions to you. I have been fortunate throughout my life to live in a variety of places, from eastern Russia to the Philippine Islands, and truly experience the exquisite charm of various cultures first hand. This has made me realize one thing- everyone is most beautiful when they are free to be themselves. After working as a top executive in a multinational fashion house, I decided to strike out on my own and see if I could bring this beauty out of every woman I encounter. I envisioned women like me; women who were proud of their accomplishments, who were excited by their experiences, and who wanted to always feel fashionable but never constrained. With this in mind, I created YAY brand. It strove to offer unique and innovative designs that encourage freedom, individuality, and effortless style for daring women on the go. I still believe in this motto from the bottom of my heart, and plan to follow it throughout every future endeavor. I hope you will let your own personal beauty shine alongside mine, and join me in my next adventure.
What should everyone know about you?
YAY: Entrepreneurial and driven executive in a consumer products environment, working with fashion design, creative direction, brand initiatives, product development, business operations, cost cutting and margin expansion. Proven record of success within the corporate and private company environment in developing and implementing unique processes to ensure product design is consistent with brand message and timely deliveries. Have a strong network of relationships within creative community. Master at development of internal designs and calendars to elevate brand performance across different channels. Have a keen sense of style and passion for beautiful products and retail. Ready to undertake complex assignments, meet tight deadlines and deliver superior results.
How would you describe what you do?
YAY: I conceptualize and lead the collection from sketch to finished product with perfect understanding the needs and wants of the consumer, while reflecting and complimenting the Brands DNA. I build and inspire a creative team around the project and collaboratively deliver superior results by brainstorming, assorting and merchandizing as a collective decision.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
YAY: It was my dream since I was four-years –old. Ever since I remember myself, I always know that I wanted to become a fashion designer and create beautiful product that would make people feel and look good.
What steps did you take to become a designer?
YAY: I was born in Russia, where I dreamt of becoming a designer since the age of four. I set a goal for myself and decided nothing could stop me. I studied several disciplines that could help me bring my dream to real life like academics, art, design, pattern making and sewing in multiple schools. By the time I was fifteen years old in Russia, I had an Associate Degree in Art & Design with a second Associate’s in Pattern-making & Sewing. Soon afterwards, my family and I immigrated to America in March of ‘99 and my journey really began in Salt lake City, Utah. While struggling to learn English, going to school and working a full time job to help my family, I continued to dream big about one day having my own brand. In 2001 I graduated high school and moved alone to Los Angeles to pursue my dream. I graduated from FIDM with another Associates Degree in Fashion Design and then from Long Beach University with a B.F.A. while simultaneously working full time in the LA fashion industry where I first started out as an associate designer and then rapidly moved up and ultimately successfully stayed as a head of design and product development.
Best/Most Challenging part of your job?
YAY: Is to sell your idea to your team and later to the consumer with out pushing it down their throat, but instead let them get excited and inspired by it. Show them the vision and make them believe in it same as I would. Only then you know that you have something valuable to proceed and it will succeed when you have the support of your team and following of the consumer.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
YAY: I would probably become a veterinarian, as I really love animals and wish to help them.
How did you get started in design?
YAY: Fashion has been the love of my life since I was a child. My need to share my take on it with the world through my devotion, efforts, and determination led to the creation of YAY convertible clothing brand- the brand after years of working in the industry and learning from very talented professional around me.
What do you like about what you do?
YAY: I love the constant interaction with suppliers, vendors and buyers that makes this job exciting as I meet people of many cultures and trades. Learning from them so much, while working at fast-pace. Experience the thrill of fast-moving and competitive environment that makes every day different and exciting. Yes, with no exception of the stressful moments and problems that appear left and right, for some reason always at the last minute, but always gets resolved at the end. Makes it all worth it with the huge reward that comes at the end, seeing people wearing the product you designed with a smile. To see women gaining more confidence, feeling more powerful and beautiful in the garment I designed or styled for them.
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
YAY: People think that being a designer means to sit down in a pretty office, sketch and drawing all day at the desk or in front of the computer. In reality, its only 5% to 10% of the actual work that you will ever do as a successful designer. Being a designer means working and being an expert in garment construction, patternmaking, sewing, cutting, analyzing, shipping, filing, and amazing communicator, team player, project manager and problem solver. People do not realize how much resources and steps takes to make a simple tee-shirt. We buy in the store without even thinking for a second, that the Designer who created it and made the design come true had to roll up his/her sleeves and dive into hard work of developing and production of that tee-shirt after spending only few minutes actually sketching it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
YAY: I hope to lead a fashion brand to a success as a CEO and be an inspiring leader for the team while influencing and coaching upcoming designers to help them succeed on their career path.
What sparked your interest in designing your own brand?
YAY: While working as a head of design and product development for an established LA brand, in 2006 I established a company Yushkova Design to design and create custom clothing for a modern women who are looking to buy unusual but yet functional clothing with edgy and trendy feel. One day, one of my regular clients, as she was getting ready for a trip, complained that every time she has to travel her luggage is very heavy and filled with clothing to fit every occasion that might occur. That led me to think on how I could make her journey lighter. Well, I had a concept that if my car, convertible mini cooper, could change with a push of a button when I want to enjoy sun or hide from the rain; why can’t clothing do the same for women and convert to fit every lifestyle with out going home and change to a brand new outfit. From that moment YAY brand came alive and officially launched in 2001. After being well received by my clients in the USA and perfected, we decided to broaden our horizons and introduce YAY to the world. While being a pioneers of the Convertible Clothing / Sustainable Fashion trend in the US six years ago we saw a huge opportunity for the business in Asia that was ready for the idea of transforming clothing, We expanded YAY brand to Asia and quickly became an iconic brand in the Philippines and others counties in Asia. YAY was the only foreign brand that was permitted on the Philippine Fashion Week runways and was well received by the public.
How has your work evolved since you began your career?
YAY: I have stated working in a wholesale and privet label environment and with years expanded to a retail brands that cater to a direct consumer. As the industry started to shift to e-commerce business models, I have also evolved and moved my focus on the retail with in e-commerce environment.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
YAY: My inspirations come from everything. The flow of one of my dresses can resemble a flower in the wind if you look closely enough. What I’m trying to say is that I get my inspiration from nature, art, love, life, family, and everything else that makes life worth living and fashion worth loving.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
YAY: The biggest lesson I have learned since I started my career is to listen. Listen to your team, listen to your mentors, listen to your leaders, and listen even if its not directly applying to your job description. As if you lesson, you will not only learn a lot and quickly advance in your career, but to your surprise, you will catch and resolve a lot of risks and problems before they even take place. In fashion you always need to be one step ahead of your self and what is happening at the moment.
What advice would you give to young designers?
YAY: Not to give up quickly when things gets difficult and always surround yourself with industry professionals that are loyal to you and will support you with the advice when you need it. Be realistic and always know the limits of your resources. Plan and analyze before acting on the idea.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
YAY: Since I am in transition to next career opportunity, I hope to find the company that I can join as a family and contribute my knowledge and expertise to is continues growth.
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
YAY: My rules of life are to be honest and kind, be loyal, communicate and there is no issue that can not be resolved, it just a matter of how hard you are willing to try. Dream big and bigger, while work hard and harder.
What’s your motto?
YAY: I strive to offer unique and innovative designs that encourage freedom, individuality, and effortless style for daring women on the go.
Learn more about Yevgenia on StylePortfolios and LinkedIn.
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