“Since the beginning I’ve always strived to achieve the impossible,” says Yoanny Garcia when looking back on the early days of launching her eponymous bag brand.
Yoanny Garcia, the brand, is classic, elegant and unique — much like its founder, who has made it her mission to showcase the bold style and vibrant hues of the Dominican Republic on the global fashion stage.
“It is my pride as a Dominican and my mission to represent my country in the fashion world on the global stage,” Yoanny says. “It’s always been integral for me to empower the “Made in D.R” label. It is my vision to develop high-quality handmade products in partnership with local artisans, who have worked in my studio since my day one.
In conversation with Yoanny Garcia, we talk about the inspirations behind her colourful bags, the importance of supporting of local artisans and how her ‘works of art’ can help women feel their most authentic selves wherever they go.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. What inspired you to start your own accessories brand?
I studied Business Administration in the Dominican Republic and then years later I did my master’s degree in International Management in Madrid. Ever since I was a little girl, fashion has always been my biggest passion. I made the decision to start my very own fashion brand when I lived in Madrid. All my friends told me that they admired my style and the bags that I made for myself and that I should start selling them, and so that’s what I did. In 2014 I officially launched my dream project, my Yoanny Garcia brand. My first collection was ‘Let’s Play’ and they were only clutches. It was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my life.
If you could describe the Yoanny Garcia aesthetic in three words, what would they be and why?
Classic, elegant and unique.
In what ways does your Dominican culture and heritage influence your designs?
The influence goes beyond my culture. It is my pride as a Dominican and my mission to represent my country in the fashion world on the global stage. It’s always been integral for me to empower the “Made in D.R” label. It is my vision to develop high-quality handmade products in partnership with local artisans, who have worked in my studio since my day one.
For me it goes both ways, I have helped the Dominican artisan community and they have helped make my brand come to life by producing truly amazing products. My country has strong colours, culture, and vibrations that the world needs to see it!
Transparency and sustainability are core to your ethics as a brand. How do you as a brand owner/designer balance profit and purpose?
Yoanny Garcia is a regulated brand, and we strictly follow Dominican regulations by showing everything that happens behind the scenes in the most transparent way.
On the sustainability side, I’m very proud to say that all my pieces are 90% handmade (sometimes even higher) and we are committed to preserving the environment that brings us such amazing raw materials.
Here at Yoanny Garcia, we thrive everyday learning about new materials and techniques so the process of making a bag becomes more and more environmentally-friendly. One of our latest innovations is incorporating natural cork in our bags, and it really looks amazing! We also make donations to different foundations and give back once to our tight-knit Dominican community.
Last year, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic chaos, we started selling dominoes made with our bag acrylic and all the profit went to Save the Children Foundation directly helping pregnant women and mothers affected by the crisis.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur so far?
The biggest challenge I’ve overcome is becoming an entrepreneur. It’s a lot of work and sacrifice and it’s been especially hard with the COVID-19 crisis. Because of the pandemic, everything went south with the fashion industry, sales slowed down, and it became very difficult to maintain my business and protect my partners.
As a businesswoman, I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to stay afloat during this difficult period. It’s been a long and challenging road and it still is to this day. I know it will keep being that way forever, but this business is where I found true happiness, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Tell us about your latest collection. What are the inspirations behind it, and do you have a favourite piece?
My two latest collections are called ‘Regina’ and ‘Abby’ with new modifications and colourways. The launch of ‘Colette’ was also a total hit! I get inspired by everything, a texture, a colour, or a feeling. It could be something I see or a combination of everything and for me that’s the beauty of art.
Seeing the final product with my team after countless trials is the best feeling in the world. For me, it’s impossible to choose a favourite piece, they are like my daughters! But I can say that the YG Ladies favourites are Teresa, Camellia, Abby, and Colette these days. I can’t wait for the launch of our next collection! There are many exciting things coming for the brand.
In your opinion, what sets Yoanny Garcia from other fashion brands in the market today?
Since the beginning I’ve always strived to achieve the impossible. I like to create different and unique pieces that I know my YG Ladies will love. I envision that when they enter any room, they will turn heads just so people can see the piece of art they are wearing. My pieces perfectly complementing their whole outfit and presence. For me, I don’t sell just a fashion piece, I create and sell feelings, exclusivity, and the magic of being your true, authentic self wherever you go, with a piece that represents you and your personality.
What advice do you have for women who would like to become a GirlBoss like yourself?
Start and don’t ever stop. If it is your dream, go for it because if you don’t do it, no one will do it for you. Be your own boss and stand up for yourself and for what you believe in. Organise yourself and don’t get distracted or discouraged by others. You got this babe.