“When a woman wears my designs, she can tackle the world. They will empower her and she will feel great and look great. My clothing helps women feel professional, fun, sexy, fierce, confident and comfortable… all at the same time!”
Life has a way of bringing out the best in us so we can uplift and encourage others. Yona Shine, entrepreneur, clothing designer, and inspirational leader in the fashion industry has overcome extreme challenges to pursue her passion for style and sophistication.
From a young age, Yona spent hours sketching and dreaming of having her own business one day. She attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, began designing and wearing her own clothing. Soon people were wanting to know where she shopped.
Yona New York was birthed! Desire, passion and a tangible need for women of plus size is the foundation for Yona and her clientele. It is a line of well-made, well-fit, professional, classic, timeless, colorful, and fabulous clothing for plus size women. Yona describes her clothing as effortless as the pieces in her collection take women from morning through night in comfort, style, and fashion.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Yona about her path and journey, both her successes and struggles. You will understand why women love her and Yona New York!
EB: You have a thriving fashion business, Yona New York, which meets the needs of professional women of plus size. It is not just about clothing, but more importantly, your emphasis is on style and confidence. How have you seen this impact your clients?
YS: As a plus-size professional woman, I have felt deeply frustrated by the lack of fashionable options I can purchase to express myself. Earning a nice living means I can afford to invest in my wardrobe, if only there were appropriate choices. By creating my own line, I have been fortunate to help women like me exude confidence and display great style, which allows them to look great and feel amazing about themselves. It is time for our community to be able to dress for success!
EB: Your passion is invaluable to the women you design and offer sophisticated, fun, trending and empowering fashionable clothing. Your company was birthed out of the desire to feel more alive and vibrant from within through the clothes you wear. Tell me more about this passion and how it has transformed yours and other’s lives.
YS: It is nice to be appreciated. I felt the pain of plus size women, and I just had to do everything I could to change the status quo. It is so gratifying now to make a difference. When I see grown women break out in tears because my clothing fits them well and makes them look stunning, I know it was all worthwhile.
EB: Being successful and feeling fulfilled is important to women today, not only in the business world but in life in general. How do you design your clothing around knowing this is part of a woman working towards goals and life purpose?
YS: That is such a great question. When I know that stunning style combined with top quality fabrics can help people feel fulfilled and successful, that gives me a special sense of mission and drive to break all of the barriers and create without any restrictions. I source the most wonderful fabrics I can find, like washed silks, crushed silk velvet, and cashmere wools because we are worthy of that investment.
EB: What have been some life-altering struggles you have had to overcome and yet you are better because of them?
YS: There are too many to list, both internal struggles and external attacks. All I can say is that each of my battles and challenges has directly contributed towards my personal growth. By standing up to each difficult day in and day out, and not allowing them to overpower me, I continue to become a better version of myself.
EB: Inspiring others can be rewarding. As a leader in the fashion industry for the plus size woman, what advice would you give to someone who would like to start her own business but may feel disempowered because of her size and feels intimidated by possible obstacles she may come up against?
YS: Just start! There are so many opportunities available now for indie designers which were not possible even five years ago. There are factories which have no minimums, and samples can be made for anyone. It is important to minimize your costs whenever you are in business. Don’t try to make everything for everyone. Diane Von Furstenburg started with only one dress, not 21 or 51. Also, network, network, network.
EB: Throughout your journey and growth as a business, what are three key lessons you have learned that have made you a stronger person and business leader?
1) Get up very early every morning. That is the best time to focus and set the direction for the day.
2) Tomorrow is another day – don’t try to work 24×7. It is not sustainable, and you will not be productive.
3) Be grateful for all of the wonderful people and blessings in your life. That will keep you centered.
EB: Who has inspired you to follow your path and reach the goals you have set for yourself?
YS: My mother was a single mom with five kids and little income. She was also plus sized. She started her own business and became very respected in her field. Although she became successful, she never forgot her roots, and always helped others in need. I know she would be so proud of me if she were still here.
EB: What is the legacy you would like to leave for future generations?
YS: There is a plague of entitlement which festers among much of our youth. They seek momentary pleasure and think everything is coming to them. The best way to feel fulfilled is to invest one’s own efforts into creating something meaningful and worthy. Nobody else can do that for you, and nothing else will give you the same level of satisfaction. Put down the smartphone, wake up, and do something meaningful with your lives!
EB: What is your favorite quote?
YS: “Always aim to be the best. If you are going to be a loser, be the very best loser you can be.” Sally Love
EB: Please share some words of wisdom to pass along to our younger generation, middle age professionals and those who want to keep taking the next step for success.
YS: Living meaning growing and evolving. I fear stagnation – I never fear change. Have the courage and tenacity to make your dreams come true. Nobody else can make them happen for you. In today’s world, anything at all is possible. Take the time to reflect on the life that you want to live, and then figure out how to steer yourself towards that goal. If you are stuck in a dead end job that keeps you unhappy, then make that change. I was a partner at a successful real estate firm when I chose to go out on my own. Now I have two businesses which make me proud. You can be anything you desire. Stay happy!