Full Name: Yenifer Lam
Current Title/Company: Co-Founder of EL VOYAGE along with Vicky Cohen.
Educational Background: International Business, Finance, and Marketing
Yenifer, I’m so thrilled to be interviewing you. Please tell the Chic Galleria audience, what was your first job and how did you land that position?
After being the Denim Wash developer at Mudd jeans and 2 years on Wall Street, I decided my passion was fashion. I applied to 100 companies and within 3 months I had landed my dream opportunity.
How have your designs evolved since your first sketch?
Well, I didn’t start designing until recently. My background is business and finance. At first my career started in designing denim washes, then product development, later I moved to sourcing and last to business development. I wanted to learn and experience the end-to-end product life cycle.
I always made pieces for myself and gifts for loved ones. I don’t sketch. I love draping fabric on the body and allowing it to take its own form. One-of-a-kind pieces are my favorite! With the weavings, it’s more technical when sketching the patterns. As one needs to keep in mind, the limitations because they are hand woven pieces. What I love about it is that every piece is unique. Each has the human touch therefore the character of each artisan is shown in each piece and collection.
The design and sketching process is different every time. And yes I do have a beautiful red sketching book.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career and how were you able to overcome them?
At first, I was not being taken seriously. I was in my early 20s when I started traveling overseas representing the companies I have worked for and let’s face it, being a young and petite woman doesn’t help. But through time, I learned to use it to my advantage.
I had to modify my way of thinking, therefore my attitude, and in some instances my dress code, pending on the country I visited. It is key to understand and respect the different cultures, build relationships with the people with which we interact. Being personal, genuine and honest has allowed me to meet wonderful people through-out the world.
“I have long-term career colleagues I can count on.” Yenifer went on to emphasize how essential lifetime friends are to a successful journey.
We want to hear about your inspiration as a creative! Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out? How would you describe your design style?
My inspiration comes from everywhere! In recent years, I like to appreciate and observe the small details in life. A morning cup of EL VOYAGE coffee on my patio while looking at the ocean in awe inspired the 2016 collection. Nature, people, and mediating in God’s splendor and in all his creation inspires me.
How did you learn the ins and outs of owning and operating your brand?
I don’t think you are ever done learning…I have been in the industry over 15 years and I’m still learning every day. This is one of the reasons why I love what I do.
As a business owner, how do you achieve a work/life balance?
Funny I get ask this question often. I must confess it’s only been in recent years that I have focused to work towards a balanced life. Happy to report I’m on the road to victory. For me, my priority is to know what I want to achieve in this life. These wants become dreams; which are simply goals with due dates. Your mission must be founded by the roles you play in life (individual, family member, friends, etc) and your goals must ALIGN. Therefore, you will prioritize these based on YOUR mission and goals.
Don’t think it’s perfect. My foundation is God. It’s important to start my day with gratitude and prayer, then off to choose a fabulous attitude along with an outfit and shoes! Always try and live each day as my last, and above all prioritize building deep relationships with the people that surround me.
What do you see in the future for your brand? How do you hope to grow the business?
The goal is to distribute EL VOYAGE globally. Weavings and coffee for everyone. As a traveler, I love being able to find or have access to products I love from all over the world at my reach. Therefore we are always seeking for an online presence and we focus on the logistics on the backend to bring our pieces of art to the comfort of your home. We will be expanding our collection into other categories, so stay tuned.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
So many things to share! Probably top on the list is we get to help and empower others, not one day is alike, that we get to travel and discover new cultures and above all that we get to connect with people all over the world.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Each day is different and I try to work as efficiently as possible. I spend alittle time on emails, but more time in thinking and strategizing so we can implement these changes.
Best moment of your career so far?
Presenting the first collection under EL VOYAGE. It was evidence that it was no longer a dream but reality, and the journey to achieve our dream had begun.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Listen and observe more than what I did.
Go-to coffee order?
Black Americano or double shot espresso (prefer EL VOYAGE coffee)
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and what would you order?
I don’t have anyone in mind that I would like to have lunch with that I haven’t already.
Best advice you’ve received?
I can narrow it to this:
First, Trust in God with all my heart.
Second, From my Great Grandmother – Always know how to do what you are asking others to do.
Third, From a book: Don’t take it personal.
The Nolcha Shows are a leading award winning event, held during New York Fashion Week, for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections to a global audience of press, retailers, stylists and industry influencers. Over the past seven years the Nolcha Shows have become established as a platform for discovery; promoting cutting edge innovative fashion designers through runway shows and exhibitions.
The team at Chic Galleria is thrilled to again be collaborating with the designers who will be featured at the Nolcha Shows. We are looking forward to showcasing these talented designers and attending their shows this fall. – Beth Anderson, Founder and Senior Editor, Chic Galleria