People come to Jill Aiko Yee’s downtown Los Angeles studio for style advice and maybe a bit on life.
It’s part of the business concept she’s built for herself with a work space that doubles as a by-appointment studio for a business centered around mainly direct-to-consumer selling.
“I like working with customers. I like to know their stories and I love it when they’re creative, whether that means in their job or just the way that they think and the way that they live their lives,” Yee said. “My focus is really on the one-on-one customer relationship. I like to have them in the space and get to know them. When I do by-appointment shopping, I feel like a hairdresser. [Customers] come and we do therapy and they share what’s going on in their lives.”
She’s now opened her workspace up for a small-format multibrand marketplace to not only feature her work, but that of other Los Angeles designers. That roster includes bags from Clau Leather Goods, sustainable underwear and lounge maker Botanica Workshop and Amy Agamemnon Jewelry. She’s also hoping to bring in wall weavings and fine art. The marketplace is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Yee continuing to book by-appointment visits Tuesday through Friday.
“I think people are just interested in a different kind of shopping experience, which is being able to see the workspace, knowing it really is made in this space and knowing where it comes from,” she said. “People also love limited-edition and one-of-a-kind pieces.”
Her operating model was somewhat inspired, she said, by the boutique Kaviar and Kind, which had previously been on Sunset Boulevard with an appointment-only model.
She recently relocated to new studio space, about doubling her office, which is shared with the Amy Agamemnon Jewelry line. The showroom, located on 9th Street, places her in good company with A.P.C. and just around the corner from Tanner Goods, Aesop and Acne Studios on Broadway.
Yee, who launched her business five years ago, dreams up airy, effortless pieces aimed at creatives. The tag line is “A Uniform for Creative Women,” with pieces that include dip-dye rayon tunics, natural indigo-dyed tops and dresses and cotton cropped pants. Pricing ranges from $65 for a T-shirt to about $550, with some custom pieces included in that range.
The bulk of her business is done direct-to-consumer via online sales or local events and she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.
“I’ve always wanted to do a company that was really organic growth and just a company that was a creative endeavor rather than a growth-oriented type of thing,” Yee said. “It just feels so much more true to who I am.”