Interview #1 - Jessie Wong of YU MEI
Hi there! Thank you for taking part in our new I Love Palm Boutique interviews -
Hi Jane + Julia. No problem!! Congratulations on 10 years of Palm!! No mean feat.
Can you tell us a little about your journey with your brand YU MEI?
For sure. Yu Mei is my Chinese middle name and loosely translated means young and beautiful. I started Yu Mei in the summer after my first year of my degree at Otago Polytechnic. I produced small lines of garments for both Slick Willy's in Dunedin and Harry's Boutique in Auckland. I always used to sick my Yu Mei labels onto degree work from there, so once I graduated it made sense to keep going. I've been sewing since I was 11 and so i've turned my hobby into my job!
I learnt leather craft from Bill Drake who owns a little store on Rattray street in Dunedin- Julia I think you know he is the leather guru of Otago. I kept going back over four years for him to teach me his leather skills. That's why you'll notice in Yu Mei designs that most of the straps and fittings are derived from belt making techniques.
At the end of 2014 I won an AMP National Scholarship which allowed me to start Yu Mei right after graduation.. I made a range of bags, drove around Otago selling them to stores and I haven't stopped since!
How long have you been stocked at PALM BOUTIQUE?
Since our last season 'Make Noise' which we displayed at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2016.
Describe YU MEI in 3 words -
Shibui, perseverance and play! (because we work hard but you've always gotta have fun with it!)
Shibui (渋い) (adjective), shibumi (渋み) (noun), or shibusa (渋さ) (noun) are Japanese words which refer to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.
You have a strong following at PALM, why do you think your brand performs so well with us?
I don't know! Maybe because i'm new on the block? New Zealanders love an underdog. I think people relate to Yu Mei because all our bags are built out of stories of my friends and family who are just everyday people.
What is your favourite new look for the coming season?
For Yu Mei or in general? This season I die for the new Yu Mei Rita bag which was inspired by my cousin. Rita has an extensive collection of curated luxury bags and loves pockets and organisation... so the Rita bag has just that- lots of pockets!
In general- gold hoop earrings.
What are you working on at the moment?
A womenswear look for a competition entry, a wedding dress and research for our next collection!
Who will always be your icon?
My Mum (funnily enough named Jane too - Jane and Jessie).
What song are you playing on repeat at the moment?
Can I have two? Them Changes by Thundercat and On the Regular by Shamir
What are you coveting most right now?
What are your favourite fabrics?
Anything natural, cashmere, silk... leather.
Have you been to Nelson before? If so what was your favourite part?
Yes- I know it's not quite Nelson but I spend a week or two in Kaiteriteri every year. The WOW museum is pretty good!
Who would attend your DREAM dinner party?
Phoebe Philo, the Olsen Twins, Leandra Medine, Emily Weiss, Lena Dunham and Beyonce.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Stealing Yu Mei samples for my own wardrobe!!