Company founder and designer Yan Neophytou has spent most of her life working in the fashion industry, from helping her family’s fashion business while growing up, and qualifying in tailoring and creative pattern-cutting before completing her Fashion BA (Hons) degree, to running a successful North London boutique for nearly ten years. It all led towards the launch of Yan Neo London in 2011. This is a carefully curated, beautifully designed wardrobe line of smart day-to-evening and executive office wear, as well as elegant leatherwear, contemporary jewellery and covetable leather bags. What distinguishes the label is its strong emphasis on tailoring, quality and fit. And those sensible prices.
Yan is a real powerhouse and a woman that knows what she wants, we just could not wait to spend some time with her to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching Yan Neo…
I grew up around the family fashion business. Running around playing with rolls of fabrics, buttons and mannequins, was definitely the start. Later I qualified in tailoring and creative pattern-cutting at London College of Fashion before I went on to a BA Fashion degree at University. After that I had some made-to-measure bespoke clients, and I also owned a boutique for nearly ten years, which led to styling and directing shoots – there was a lot of variety. But I always wanted my own label, which I eventually set up in 2011. There have been a lot of late nights, long hours and weekends – it definitely isn’t a 9am-5pm job – but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
You want to offer the premium look without the premium price tag, how do you achieve this?
I put a lot of effort into sourcing, so we offer the best possible quality, fit and craftsmanship for the best possible price in every piece. If I feel that an item doesn’t make the cut, it’s out, and i’ll start again.
How do you want women to feel when they wear your designs?
I want women to feel confident that they always have perfect go-to outfits in their wardrobe. We all have busy lifestyles and stress in our lives, but when they walk out of the front door I want them to feel confident that they look put-together, stylish and empowered.
What plans do you have for the brand in 2020?
World domination? Seriously though, expanding the brand internationally – at least to a few countries to start with – is on the cards.
Do you plan on launching other products in future, if yes, what will they be?
Of course! There’s always something in production or on the drawing board. At the moment I’m concentrating on my Summer collection, but Autumn/Winter is also underway.
How much does social media play a role in your success?
Some social media is essential – especially for a brand that began on its own website. They’re a great showcase, and extremely useful. But it’s never as good as touching and feeling the actual product, so they have their limits.
What quote do you like to read when lacking motivation?
I have two favourite quotes that help inspire me.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” —Nelson Mandela
“The best way out is always through.” —Robert Frost
For anyone wanting to launch a fashion label, what advice would you give?
Be prepared for hard work and no social life! It’s not enough to have a passion for design and creativity, you need to learn the business – because it is a business – from design to finished product. It’s a lot less glamorous than people realise, so you need perseverance and patience. But I still love it.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could go back in time?
Nothing. Everything is a learning curve and adds to experience no matter how it is perceived by anyone else. Maybe I’d do a bit more yoga!
Talk us through an average day in your life…
Yoga usually comes first, followed by breakfast and a cup of rosy lee. I can’t start my day without that. I’m always checking emails from 7-8am, then get on with range planning (that’s the designing and fabric sourcing) and/or fittings (on a live model). Or I might check production, either remotely or with site visits. Some days I could be arranging or directing a shoot. And then there’s the rest of the business: talking to stockists, overseeing the website, troubleshooting and a million and one other details. It’s endless really. I try to finish before 8pm, But some nights I may end up working till 1am. My husband isn’t overly impressed when that happens!
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
I’d say Japan, I’ve always loved their culture and I’d love to visit during their cherry blossom season.
Where can people find out more?
Come and visit us at yanneo.com