|Vancouver is home to a thriving fashion industry made up of individuals committed to its growth and success. Get to know these personalities in The Inseam and discover what makes the Vancouver Fashion scene so awesome.|
Since its beginnings late last summer, the Young & Only blog has developed a culture that’s deeply rooted in art, fashion, music, and design. Catering to the young and fashionable while featuring the everyday stories of the Y&O team, the blog perfectly blends style with a tone that’s unpretentious and accessible. After months of hard work and a few teasers (Y&O even opened a pop-up store last December), the team is finally set to launch their highly anticipated online shop this Friday.
I caught up with Dammy, Kirsty and Jordan of Young & Only to learn more about their diverse team of individuals and their new venture into e-commerce.
Valerie Tiu: What is Young & Only?
Kirsty: Young & Only is first and foremost an e-commerce store, so we sell clothes for men and women. The kinds of brands we bring in are not the typical mainstream brands you would find at large stores. We have a very carefully curated selection of merchandise.
Secondly, Young & Only is really about this culture that we have about art, music and fashion. We want to leverage this culture through the e-commerce store and our blog. The blog has been the biggest part of the company so far because we haven’t launched our site yet, but it’s going to be a really huge component that drives a lot of content and draws in a lot of traffic. We’ll be doing different articles and interviews, we will feature artists, all that kind of stuff.
Valerie: What’s the story behind the name, “Young & Only?”
Kirsty: I was thinking about what type of people would want to wear our stuff and about how they’re the type that would want to stand out. They don’t want to just wear stuff that everyone else is wearing. There’s only one of you. You’re an individual – you’re one and only, and you want be young too. It just kind of sprung from that.
Valerie: Tell us about the team behind Young & Only.
Kirsty: I am an Emily Carr Graduate with a degree in Communication Design. My background is mainly in branding, a little bit of marketing and web design. I graduated in 2011. I started working for someone and then I decided that I wanted do my own thing instead. I met Dammy because he did some contract work for the company I had worked for and ever since then, we’ve been working together and we came up with this idea.
Jordan: I studied fashion merchandising and marketing. I was in the retail business for about seven or eight years prior to this. I assisted in boutique store buying in Calgary for a store called Dick and Jane’s and that’s how I got into this buying role. I met these guys at an interview and from there my job has been the fulltime buyer, which is basically picking all the merchandise, trend forecasting and doing some travelling for garments.
Dammy: I’m the oldest of the group. I graduated in 2007 from SFU and I majored Political Science and a marketing minor. Ever since I graduated, I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, so I started REACH Magazine. From there, I met Kirsty, we worked at Yellow Hat Media together and we we were blessed with working together with some amazing individuals and a lot of clients. It got to a point where we wanted to start focusing on our own product. I’m an entrepreneur at heart.
Kirsty: Terry is our third partner. We’ve been friends for many years, that’s why we started working together. He went to BCIT and he has a media and music background. He brings that side over too w his passion for music.
Dammy: He’s also been very instrumental in getting the seed investment money that we needed to start this up. Emery runs all our digital marketing initiatives and she is amazing.
Valerie: What distinguishes Y&O from other online retailers?
Kirsty: I think it’s interesting because when people think about Vancouver and fashion, we have a very distinct west coast vibe. That doesn’t really venture much out of the west coast to be honest – our style remains here. What we’re trying to do is push past that boundary and push away that stereotype. We want to work with different people around the world. Our last mix was with DJs from Toronto. Jordan is going to New York, I travel, and Terry was just in Asia as well, so we try to bring what we find back into Y&O and build content to connect to our audience.
Jordan: From a merchandise standpoint, one thing that really sets up apart is that we’ve managed to combine that west coast feel but we’ve also added touches from the UK and New York. We’re also trying to bring in Korean and Australian collections. We’re really trying to combine all of those cultures into one place that’s nice and curated so you don’t have to look through 50 pages of it to find what you’re looking for. Instead, you’re looking at four pages of things from around the world that’s all in one place.
Dammy: From a business standpoint, I like thinking about the price point of our clothing. When we did the pop-up store, people came in, saw the clothing, and it was something that they could afford. It’s not going to break the bank. We’ve got amazing clothing that you can get for 150 bucks. We don’t sacrifice quality or the type of brand. We understand how people like us think and we consider what kind of jobs they do.
Valerie: What designers or labels can we expect to see from Y&O?
Jordan: Our collection right now is a mix of west coast feel with British Heritage, and we’re bringing in a touch of New York into it. Right now, we have a couple of Canadian made brands like London Alexander, we’re bringing in some UK brands like Marshall Artist and some New York brands like RVLT. With our women’s collection, you can expect a lot of cooler labels from Australia, like Cameo, Finders Keepers and Keepsake. There are British labels like Supertrash, Cutie London, Darling UK and Glamorous UK.
Valerie: How do you envision the future of Y&O?
Kirsty: Like any e-commerce store, the goal is to go global. A really big thing for me is for our content to reach out to people globally and I want it to become a daily read.
Valerie: Why is it so important for you guys to base your business here in Vancouver?
Dammy: Kirsty and I went down to San Francisco and we were talking to some mentors and investors and they kept asking us, “Are you guys sure you want to do this in Vancouver?” We came back and we were like, “F*ck that. Why do we need to be down there to start something like this?” There is a presence up here. We believe in it, we were born and raised here and we rep it to the end. This is our home and this is where we’re going to be based. It doesn’t matter if we do business elsewhere but we will always be based here.
Kirsty: The important part is not to forget where we’re from and who we are. We want to incorporate all those things we love about other cities like London, Paris and New York and bring it back here and share it with our people.