Dienstag, 22. April 2014

Yidi XU - Co-founder of Terracotta New York

Yidi Xu is co-founder of Terracotta New York, a women’s accessories company built around an innate appreciation for menswear-inspired simplicity.

Dear Yidi, when did you decide to found your own company?

Terracotta New York was co-founded in early 2012. I met my co-founder Alina Cheung when we both were working at Credit Suisse. We shared an affinity for fashion and Alina was accepted to fashion school before she decided to study economics at Barnard College.

What exactly is your position at Terracotta New York? How does your daily work look like?
I look after Sales and Strategy, while Alina focuses on Design and Marketing. My morning is usually spent catching up on emails that we receive from the night before, may it be confirming purchase orders and coordinating with our manufactures. Afternoon is usually spent on business development, i.e. reaching out to new channels, gathering design inspirations, etc. One good thing about working on a startup is that you really get to set your own schedule. There are days when we are crazy busy..and there are also days when things can get a little slowers. It requires a lot of discipline to map out what you have to get done and to stick to the schedule.

SS14 Collection
Alina is responsible of the design of your scarfs, bow-ties and neck-ties?
Yes, my business partner Alina designs all the scarves. She’s based in New York City. All of our patterns are hand-drawn by Alina. We then place them in Illustrator and come up with the design for each scarf. Once the designs are laid out, Alina and I work together on choosing the colorways.

When is the most stressful time for you?
It usually gets pretty stressful during the buying seasons. That typically happens in January – February, then August – September. Aside from constant traveling for tradeshows, there is a lot of networking with industry peers, maintaining relationships, all at the same time trying to manage inventory and keep track of orders and followups.

What is the best part of your job?
I always feel really proud when a new boutique or new online channel starts to carry our products. It’s really hard to not take things personally (even though I am not supposed to) when you’re the founder of a business and the designer of a particular product. So everytime we are able to expand our retail footprint, it feels like a big win for the team!

What is the biggest challenge in your job?
To be the jack-of-all-trades. Everyone wears multiple hats in a fashion start-up. The internet becomes your best friend. When you don’t know how to do something, you just google it. For example, even though Alina and I have an amazing web designer who takes care of our online boutique, both of us still need to be very involved with Search Engine Optimization and Google Adwords, all of which involve basic understandings of HTML and web design. It is always good to delegate, but as we are fully responsible for every aspect of the business, to effectively monitor, we’ll need to have basic understandings of every single aspect as well.

How do you draw new inspiration / ideas?
Almost all of our patterns are menswear inspired. When Alina and I worked on Wall Street, many of our male colleagues had ties and cufflinks with really cool patterns. These patterns were conversation starters. They were ways for their wearers to express subtle hints of their personality and uniqueness, a way of self-expression. Our latest SS’14 collection is ocean-themed with creatures such as seastars, turtles and crabs. We try to stay true to our menswear inspired roots, then expand on top of that.

Spring Summer 14 Collection
Did you always want to work in fashion?
Both of us have always been really interested in fashion. We certainly took a lot of inspiration from clients that we’ve worked for while at Credit Suisse and many of them are power players within the retail industry. I worked on the sale of Tommy Hilfiger to PVH in 2010. It was really amazing and inspirational to see how one designer translates his creative vision and aesthetics into a fashion empire.

Is there anything you still want to achieve with your brand?
We want Terracotta New York to be known for whimsical and statement silk scarves the way that Tom Ford is known for his impeccable tailoring and Pheobe Philo is known for her dedication to simplicity.

Which fashion or beauty blogs do you read regurlaly ?
When i comes to beauty blogs, i really like the beauty blog  Politics of Pretty. I also like Refinery29’s beauty section. I am not big on fashion blogs, but i take plenty of inspiration from Pinterest.

Which are your favorite magazines or newspaper?
I am still sticking with Wall Street Journal, sometimes it’s good to take a little break and read something different. Elite Daily is also a really fun read.

Is it possible to do an internship at your company?
We offer a wide range of internships from web design, fashion editorial to sales / marketing. At any given time, we usually work with 4 to 5 interns, many of them actually work remotely. Both Alina and I really enjoy the nurturing environment an internship can offer. It’s always about mutual learning and working together as a team. Find more information here.

Thank you very much, Yidi!


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