Montreal designer Yana is probably going to end up single-handedly saving the world from an environmental crisis. One visit to her Etsy store, Supayana, shows not only the adorable shirts and dresses she makes from vintage clothes and fabrics, but that she tries to remain environmentally conscious in all aspects of her life, like recycling whenever possible and biking to the post office, ensuring that those who buy from her store are supporting an earth-friendly way of life.
How did you first get started with making and selling clothes?
I started making clothing the same way as lots of people. Starting with doll clothes, and then experimenting with real people clothes; I wanted something really unique and fun. As a high school student I couldn’t afford designer clothes, so I just learned how to make my own. The clothes I made in high school were pretty hilarious and terrible… but I got better with practice. When I was in university I started selling my handmade clothing on eBay. At the time it was a way of paying for my textbooks and having extra spending money. I was studying speech pathology, not fashion, but I knew deep down inside that I wanted to design clothing for a living. A few years later, it became a self-sustaining business, so after I graduated, I decided to do fashion full-time. It’s been amazing ever since, and I am so lucky to make a living doing what I love.
Do you prefer designing in Montreal or New York? What are the differences?
Selling online allows me to live and work anywhere, providing there’s an internet connection and a post office! I moved to Montreal two years ago from Brooklyn, NY, and I love it here. I do miss NY from time to time, but my life here feels so luxurious in comparison! Now that I’ve had a little taste, it’s pretty hard to go back. I’m also much more relaxed since I’ve moved to Montreal. Maybe a little too relaxed! I find myself smiling at strangers in the subway when I go back to NY, and I think it freaks them out.
Fashion-wise, I think Montrealers have more interesting vintage/second-hand style, and New Yorkers tend to dress in trendier designer clothing. Probably because Montrealers have access to amazing vintage and second-hand clothing, and New Yorkers have more independent boutiques to choose from.
How do you feel about the “going green” trend that so many fashion magazines have been going on about lately?
I welcome this trend with open arms! It’s about time this idea has spread into the mass media. There is, however, the problem of “greenwashing” (making a product seem eco-friendly when it actually isn’t). For example, I saw these “eco-friendly” sweaters at a popular department store in Montreal, and then when I checked the fiber content, it was like 90% acrylic and 10% bamboo. Ten percent? Woop-di-doo! Or how certain products claim to be “eco” and they’re packaged in two layers of plastic and a glossy coated cardboard box. Read the fine print and find out if whatever you are purchasing is as “green” as it claims. It’s not fair for companies to do this, especially when people are trying to make the right choice.
Do you feel that there is a tight-knit community of sellers on Etsy? How do you find it useful to your business?
Yes, definitely! Well, it just so happens that most of my real-life friends sell on Etsy as well. It’s useful to be friends with other sellers because you can help each other out with finding new retail locations, getting advice about your shop, just getting good business advice in general.
- interview by Anna Fitz