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Life and Work with Stephanie Yu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Yu.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Stephanie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Wilder Bag Co. is a vintage/handmade shop owned by me, Stephanie Yu, a womxn of color, who have found a piece of home in various cities including; Los Angeles, Portland, Joshua Tree, Santa Fe, and Taipei. The landscape and culture in each city I’ve lived influences my curation of textures, fabrics, and color vibes. My goal is to curate a shop full of beautiful objects that will inspire others to travel and to follow their curiosity. Along with curating secondhand clothing, I also hand make my own line of jewelry using moonstone, agate, opal, turquoise, nickel free and hypoallergenic metals.

I was born and raised in Rowland Heights, California to immigrant parents who were born in Taiwan. My work and creative practice centers around a photojournalistic eye, body positivity, and self-love. Wilder Bag Co. exists online, at a brick and mortar in downtown Colorado Springs, and at pop-ups in surrounding cities. My goal is to own my a dedicated storefront within the next five years. I’d like to make it a community center for open mics, pop up events, town hall meetings, and small business workshops. I want to create a home base for people of color and those who have a lack of access to resources.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My road to becoming a successful entrepreneur is an ever-changing and winding road. I am just eighteen months in and already feel like a different and more mature womxn. The struggles to balance mental health, physical health, and the hustle has been the hardest hurdle. However, it has grown me into a more patient and grounded person. Working sixty to seventy hours a week for a few weeks in a row can take a toll on my relationships to others and myself. My advice to any young womxn just starting their own business is to know their “why.” Why are they in business and why do they want to achieve their goals. I’d say reevaluate this ‘why’ constantly and distill it down to something they truly believe in. Self-care needs to be number one. If you skip meals, skip exercise, and eat unhealthy food constantly your body will break down. At the same time, don’t hold yourself to an unhelpful standard of perfection. It is a myth that womxn can and should have it all at once. We can have it all, but maybe it comes in seasons and waves. Some seasons your business will be booming and thriving, meanwhile, your friendships and relationships take a backseat. It’s okay! Just remember to balance it out and come back to a place of nurturing those relationships. Because financial and professional success taste sweeter when you have a good group of people you can go out with to celebrate with. Speaking of celebrating, celebrate often! Practice celebrating the little victories just as much as you celebrate the big victories. Honor your pace. Don’t push yourself constantly and relentlessly. Take a break and then get back in the game.

Please tell us about Wilder Bag Co.
Wilder Bag Co. is the intersection of my passion for sustainability, fashion, photography, and most of all community. I believe that shopping secondhand and local first is a powerful way to fight global warming and the degradation of our planet. My mission is to be a voice of color in the slow fashion community. We are underrepresented in this community and I want to show other young people of color that they can build their own business while making a social impact. There is room for us at the slow fashion and sustainability table. I am most proud of Wilder Bag Co. being a voice that stands up for black lives, trans lives, and queer lives. This is our way. To be an ally and good steward of the platform we’ve been given.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
My mom being an immigrant womxn who started her own CPA firm and working late hours is what gives me the work ethic needed to thrive as a small business owner. She showed me that good things come to those who treat their customers with respect.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo by Sipho N’jedi T’Challa

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