Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Hi! My name is Yina and I am the founder and designer of the handbag brand 'Yina Yina'. I was born and raised in Korea and came to New York about 10 years ago after a short time living in San Francisco.
My goal is to design and produce good design & quality handbags that are not knock offs straight from the market and offer affordable prices that everyone can enjoy.
Yina with Kafka crossbody in cloud
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
I decided to be a fashion designer when I was 14 years old - I started to make my hair accessories and taught myself sewing. I just liked making something that is one of kind. That’s when I started dreaming about being a fashion designer and having my own brand.
I started my first internship at the screen printing shop when I was in high school, it was a really good experience learning how to run a small boutique / customize dress shop. Starting from there, I have worked part-time dressing mannequins in fashion retail stores. After college, I came to New York to keep pursuing my fashion career as a wedding dress designer. I love the idea of taking time and effort into one special piece that would stay memorable forever. Making patterns for the individual body, and going through the several fittings and adjustment takes tremendous of time but it was so rewarding after all.
How did you launch your brand?
Having my own brand was a long-term dream and a goal ever since I decided that I would be a fashion designer. I planned to do it in 2020 and I am glad I made it by the timeframe. I did not want to leave it as just my 'childhood dream' and wanted to give it a shot. It reminded me how much I love designing and creating - I am still exploring and learning, and it's endless work but I love to keep myself busy.
Why did you name your designs Kafka? Is there a story behind the name?
I get this question a lot! I just followed my first instinct that came to my mind when I was designing the first series of Kafka, which meant 'Tote'. I designed the first prototype about 4 years ago. Because the tote was a little masculine and had a genderless shape, I wanted to give it a stylish and mannish name. Yep, it's from Franz Kafka and I just liked the sound of the name.
What advice would give someone who wants to start their own business?
One of my favorite quotes is 'hope for the best, but prepare for the worst'. Always have a 2nd & 3rd plan while you're putting your best on the 1st. You are all that you got after all. So be nice to yourself and be patient!
How are you adapting to the new situation we are in: working from home?
I am a very home type of person- I love staying at home, doing everything at home, so working at home is even better for me!
My daily routine is mostly the same, wake up with a cup of coffee, turn on my computer, and work until I go to bed in the same pajama. I love that I don't have to waste time for makeup, dressing up, and commuting. I tend to focus better in my zone but I've been isolated for almost 4 months now and I kind of miss the outdoor life too.
What is your biggest talent?
I think I have a special eye for finding the best proportion and the balance. I can't emphasize enough how balance is so important! All the shapes and colors are precisely calculated for the best proportion in my products. I work very closely with the factory and they know that I don't allow 1mm of difference.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want to survive this pandemic first (haha) and then want to expand the brand into more lines - could be shoes, jewelry, or clothing. I am curious how my interest will shift after 5 years but I know I will be always busy creating something.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think my personal style is pretty simple and conserved. I like comfy, understated, and timeless pieces. What I care about the most is how outfits can cover my body insecurities and make it flattering. I think that's the role of fashion.
Yina with Kafka mini tote in cloud
What clothing piece do you think every woman should have in their closet?
A good cut white shirt. It's a game-changer. It sets my mind differently when I am in a good white shirt.
What is your favorite fashion trend right now? Why?
I found myself triggered in big weaving! Just rescaling weaving has offered so crazy chicness and extra refinement! I've tried making the Kafka mini tote in big weaving and it was so cute! And maybe scrunchies, too! It reminds me of the day I started sewing. The first thing I ever made was a scrunchy! I wore it to school and bragged about it. It is still vivid in my memory.
What is your favorite go-to summer outfit?
Summer is all about floral dresses! My closet is pretty neutral in other seasons, but in summer it gets super colorful and I can dive into as many colors and prints as possible! Now I am into maxi dresses that can hide my quarantine-gained weight. Summer is definitely the season to try new fun styles!
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