#IAMNICHE-Valerie Mayen of Yellowcake Shop

February 5, 2018





Q: Please tell us a great story about your business, your experiences and the gritty back-story of your journey and why your business or products are your passion.


A:I'm originally from Texas, so when I moved to the frigid temps of Cleveland OH to finish my undergrad at art school - I learned quickly that a good winter coat was a must for survival. I was, however, disappointed at the lack of quality and style in most options available to me. So I decided to learn how to make my own - one that married fashion to function and was long lasting. The first 3 coats I designed and made became our best sellers for the early years of our business. It's what Yellowcake was built on. To this day (nearly 10 years later) our outerwear is what we are best known for and keeps our clients so loyal. I love creating products that fulfill a need and do it in style. They stand the test of time and become staples among the owners wardrobe. Our biggest mission with Yellowcake is to be part of the fashion revolution that aims to create thoughtful intentional clothing, ethically and honestly. We believe in slow fashion - investing in fewer garments of better quality, made with care and love.



Q: What has been your biggest success?

Competing on Project Runway and Project Runway All-Stars was the craziest, scariest, most amazing challenge I've ever faced and overcome as a designer. It was a long road to get there and an even longer journey to navigate thereafter - but I wouldn't change a minute of it. I'm thankful for the opportunities it provided and it will always be a part of my career history - one of my proudest.


Q: What has been your biggest struggle?

A:My biggest struggle as a creative is saying no to new and exciting projects. I love trying new mediums and experimenting with different techniques. But to run a successful business, focus and sustainability are key. If we diversify our product offerings too much, it can become difficult to manage and may dilute our brand. Learning to become the master of what we are best at and leaving things on the cutting room floor that we are maybe not so great at has been a constant struggle for me.


But with time, we are learning, evolving and growing into a more polished and refined brand. One with a keen point of view and a smarter lineup to truly fit our clients needs.


Q: What's your niche?

A:Outerwear & wardrobe essentials for the woman who has everything. Our client is a modern working woman, a professional, an entrepreneur with a mission. She's on the go with purpose and needs a wardrobe that can keep up with her lifestyle for years to come. We create high quality staple garments that add instant style, function and ease to her closet while supporting the beauty of responsible locally handmade fashion.


Q: Where do you see the retail industry in ten years?

A: In a much more fluid state. It's not bound just to brick and mortar, pop up events, flea markets or even e-commerce. There are hybrid solutions, fluctuating with the seasons of consumer trends. As the world becomes smaller with social media and online resources, so may the retail industry and it's output. Yellowcake has often considered the Bonobos Guidepost way of retail: a strong online presence with a handful of small, efficient retail shops in select cities that offer the client a location to feel, touch and try on the garments. Yet the purpose of the shop is essentially for the client to do just that. It doesn't house large amounts of inventory or staff a roster of endless employees. There are samples of offerings one can buy online there in store to make purchasing an easier option for the client who may want to try before they buy. When deciding upon their purchase, the client can "checkout" with the clerk and expect to receive their selected items at their doorstep within days. Thus eliminating the need for costly overhead and allowing two points of gratification for the client - one upon purchase and the second upon receiving the shipment. It will be a few years out before Yellowcake considers this method - but it may be the wave of the retail future... to be determined.

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