Designer Spotlight: Yona New York
Posted on July 12 2016
One of the most exciting parts about the perspective that we at Hey Gorgeous! have, is that we get to watch new independent designers appear in the plus market- and there are more and more every year. The difference in the number of designers creating for our market when we started was so small, and it has grown exponentially since. We sat down with one of our newest independent designers, Yona Shine of Yona New York to talk all things fashion, and to see what compelled her to start her line.
Introducing Yona New York.
Hey Gorgeous!: The brand is named after you. Why did you choose to have a self-titled brand?
Yona: This brand is an extension of who I am, and I take personal responsibility in what I create. I will only put my name on a piece of clothing that I would be proud to wear myself. I have very high standards for quality and style, and I am passionate about bringing that to our community.
Hey Gorgeous!: How did your own shopping experiences lead you to want to start your own business in plus fashion?
Yona: I enjoy shopping at high end retailers because I have always loved fashion and design. When I see a beautiful piece that is well made and would look stunning on me, I want to buy it. More often than not, it does not come in my size, or anywhere near it. I can't describe how frustrating that feeling is. That is why I began designing and making my own pieces. When people would ask where I got this dress or that top, I would admit that I designed it myself. That's when I knew I had to bring my designs and my emphasis on quality to help other women who wear larger sizes.
Shop the Drape Maxi Skirt.
Hey Gorgeous!: Where do you find design inspiration? How does life in NYC affect your design?
Inspiration is everywhere. We live in the fashion capital of the world. There are so many beautiful people wearing so many marvelous designs here. I find it inspiring just to be in the midst of it. I believe life in NYC is more sophisticated by definition. That is reflected in my line. My designs are upscale casual to upscale professional. They reflect a high end style that is New York City. New York is also fast paced. Nobody has a lot of time to get dressed, so it has to be effortless. Finally, women in New York are unafraid to express themselves and show off their own sense of style.
Hey Gorgeous!: Your brand is a family operation. How do your loved ones contribute to the brand?
Yona: My family is my life. I could not do this without their love and support. My husband, Victor, is my business partner and cheering squad. He spent the majority of his career in high fashion services. (Both of our mothers were accomplished, successful plus size women.) Our son in law, Ben, is the production manager. Our daughter, Shifra, is still in college pursuing a degree in Communication and Marketing. She manages the buying, and the showroom. She was also our first model. My son is a great photographer, but I think we are going to let him finish high school first.
Hey Gorgeous!: Describe the brand Yona New York in a few words.
Yona: Yona New York is effortless fashion for plus size women, by plus size women.
Hey Gorgeous!: What do you think is still lacking in the plus fashion market?
Yona: In short, just about everything is missing, until fashion becomes all inclusive. Plus size women must recognize that they deserve more fashionable options, and retailers must recognize that 100 million plus size American women are worth the effort. Until women of all sizes are equally well served with apparel in every grade of quality and style, it will be important to keep our cause at the forefront of the conversation. It should be our decision to choose to wear what we want, not only what retailers elect to offer us.
Shop the Red Rose Kimono Dress.
Hey Gorgeous!: Who has had the greatest influence on you? Why?
Yona: My mother was a single parent with five kids and little income. She started a business in the construction industry, decidedly a male dominated world. When she would speak to city officials, building owners, and professionals, she was the voice of authority. She was no longer some overweight woman. She was the one they paid top dollar for her expert advice. I wanted to be taken seriously and make a difference, just like her.
Hey Gorgeous!: How do you hope women wearing Yona New York feel in your clothing?
Yona: I have seen grown women cry when they try on my designs for the first time. It's like they had no idea they could look so good, feel so great, and don an air of confidence just by upgrading their wardrobe. There is an air of freedom, acceptance, and empowerment when clothing fits well. This is what I have been fighting for - I want every plus size woman to feel beautiful, radiant, and happy with herself.
Thanks, Yona! We are hungry for designers like yourself! xx