I’ve been in denial a little… As I embark on my 15th year in business, I honestly can't believe it’s been that long! If you asked me 15 years ago where I envisioned myself, this would not have been my answer. I’m not disappointed in any way. I’m grateful for my life and how everything has led me to this point. But, 15 years ago (or even before that) when I had the inspiration to start this business, I was a completely different person. I was focused on making beautiful clothing and I’m ashamed to share this with you, being rich. Isn’t that what all 20 something year old fashion designers want? sigh…
I was 30 when I finally left my family business and embarked on my own (that’s some scary sh** for someone in an Asian family!) I dabbled in other businesses, until I found my passion in creating premium petite denim. I stumbled a lot in the beginning, facing numerous road bumps and dwindling funds. I started this business selfishly, for myself. I was short and I wanted clothing that fit my height. And then realized that other people were facing the same insecurities and frustrations with the fashion industry.
I went from trunk shows to consignment into local boutiques. My dream was to launch my denim in every boutique from here to New York. I heard a lot of “no’s” along the way, it was discouraging and set me back a bit. But it also pushed me to go deeper and understand what my purpose was. I wanted to offer my customers classic, clean styles that were timeless and easy to wear.
I went from wholesaling into Nordstrom to retail in the blink of an eye! And then the Universe pushed me to grow once again . . . Ala Moana. It was daunting but the opportunity led me to meet a lot of people and grow my reach here in Hawaii. It was there that I was able to find a deeper why. It was there that I was inspired to create IZU Body Types and the idea to Live Your Letter. To give women permission to be proud of their unique shape, their bodies, their height, their age. Whatever it was that was holding them back, I knew it was the brand’s purpose to let women know - ‘own your uniqueness, you are beautiful and worthy!’
It was through seminars and events that I was able to meet more women and hear their struggles. And as a designer (and obsessive problem solver) I went to work, designing styles that could help them feel better about themselves. Minimizing those parts that we want to stop thinking about, and highlighting the parts that we ‘kinda like’. This was my inspiration, this was my focus - YOU.
At the core of every decision, every design, every fabric or color choice, I would picture you and ask if you would love it. It was a long journey to get here, but it’s because of my deep respect and care for you, me, our community of women, our struggles, and our uniqueness that kept me going. I wanted to create a brand that stood for more than just clothes. I wanted this brand to be a beacon of light for women, a permission slip of sorts to say, “yes, you can be 100% yourself with us!”
The heart and soul of this business is you - my customers, my team, my friends, and family. So yes, this isn't where I thought I’d be 15 years ago. It’s not jetsetting from New York to Paris or rubbing elbows with famous people. It’s deeper and more fulfilling and it’s better! Every time I get to talk with you, every time I see the joy in someone’s eyes, the way they stand a little taller or stare at themselves a little longer in the mirror, that is what my dreams are made of. That connection back to you, to have you know that your worries are my worries, that your insecurities are the same ones I share, that is priceless. To have the honor to be connected to you and your life in this way, is an honor. Thank you for allowing me to be on this journey with you. I am grateful.
Cheers to 15 more.