Enter the dreamy world of YOYA, a store where you could find an incredible collection of well-designed kids’ clothing for littles. Check out more about this NYC store and the mama behind it in our recent interview.
Interview with YOYA NYC Owner Cristina Villegas
What inspired you to open YOYA? What were you doing beforehand?
I worked as a textile manager for an Italian mill until I had my first daughter, Mila. I was desperate to find interesting and well-made clothing for her, then realized that there weren’t many places in New York with kid’s fashion that I loved. Soon after, I opened YOYA to bring well-designed kids’ clothing to the city.
What was the experience like starting your first store? How is YOYA different now?
Like any start-up in New York, it was difficult at first: I worked very long hours and had to wear many hats; I didn’t take a day off for the first year! However, I had a clear idea of the image that I wanted for the boutique. Despite the initial growing pains, I continued to work towards my vision. The shop has grown with my kids; we started as a baby store (newborn to four-year-olds), and now we go up to size ten. We’ve grown with designers (currently we stock over sixty), purified and refined our vision, and introduced a highly curated women and home decor collection.
What made you decide to make children the starting point of your business?
My daughters were (and still are!) my greatest inspiration.
What is your take on trade shows? Do you shop there? What’s your favorite one?
Trade shows provide a concentrated location for brands; they are very necessary to a buyer’s life. If I had to make appointments and see every brand in a different location, I would go a bit insane! However, it takes an experienced and focused buyer to sift through the bad design. Playtime Paris is my favorite trade show, because it is easy to navigate and hosts the best brands in the industry. And the location doesn’t hurt.
How would you describe your store? Does that reflect on your personal style and home decor?
YOYA is my canvas for design and fashion. Both my home and my shop reflect a focus on clean, organized space with minimal and peaceful decor. I always hoped that YOYA would be a source of style inspiration for kids and parents alike. YOYA is a part of my home, my lifestyle, and an extension of my fashion and design sensibility.
Where/how do you find the brands that you sell at your store? Are they more up and coming or name brands or a mix?
Sourcing for new brands and designers is my favorite part of my job (it is also the most difficult, as it is impossible to see everything out there). I travel to trade shows for designs, kids, accessories, and gifts. Many new designers find YOYA via e-mail or store drop-ins, but the shows provide a more organized way to see a lot of brands in one location.
You always seem to have special things we don’t see anywhere else. Do you sometimes have exclusive or have things made for the store? What’s that experience like?
I’ve done some collaborations, and do have a lot of exclusivity with smaller designers. I’m not afraid to follow my instinct and take risks, so sometimes YOYA will have more fashion-forward items that others might not risk buying. I also have a private label collection, only sold online and at the shop.
YOYA is known for the gorgeous way it’s merchandised can you tell us a little about that? Where do you get the inspiration for it? Do you always do it yourself? Do you move things around all the time?
I love to merchandise, because it comes natural to me. It’s an organic process – I work with colors in the shop to make the environment comfortable for the shopper. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different designers and products, so I try to create a feeling of serenity among the collections.
Do you have any rules when you’re shopping for the store or do you just follow your gut?
I always ask myself “Can you live without it?”
Why do you think your customers love YOYA so much?
One, because it’s mutual! We care a great deal for our customers and love to watch the little ones grow up. We like to provide a very personal experience for our shoppers, because in-store experience is paramount to boutique survival. We love our environment, we love our products, and we want to provide acute attention to detail to make our clients happy.
Two, our prowess in the kids fashion world. Our customers will always find the best in kids fashion at YOYA. They are guaranteed up-and-coming brands, quality materials, and cutting-edge styles from all over the world.
You also do a lot of personal styling for your customers? Do you have any go to styling tricks that are your signature?
Most importantly, fashion should be fun and easy. We have quite an eclectic selection of clothing, so it’s easy to mix and match dressier items with more funky, casual ones. It’s important to not take it too seriously and let kids show off their personal style.
Is there any new “IT” item for mamas and children alike?
For mamas, I LOVE the Vivien Ramsay collection, because it is a perfect mix of edgy and bohemian. For girls, Leoca Paris, a chic Parisian line combining amazing color and fabrics (think Madeline meets Amelie). For boys, Molo and Finger in the Nose use very high quality materials and provide graphic design with a sense of humor.
Where do you find your inspiration from?
I am inspired by many elements of my life – my kids, my neighborhood, street style, and (of course) a great selection of books. I’m obsessed with all things design, as evidenced by my vast collection of design books and magazines.
What’s your favorite item coming into the shop this season?
We are obsessed with anything from Album di Famiglia.
What are your thoughts on sales? Do you have them often or are they a “not to miss” special event?
Rather than having a lot of smaller sales, we have two huge (and amazing) sales per year. We have a huge following that won’t miss it.
What is your go-to gift for a new baby from the store?
That mostly depends on the style of the parents and what the weather is like where they live. However, anything from Tocoto Vintage or Album di Famiglia would be a hit at a baby shower.
How do you spot a best seller? Can you remember something that just flew off the shelves and you couldn’t keep it in stock? Do you always know what’s going to sell or are you sometimes totally take by surprise?
The popularity of certain colors, styles and brands changes every year. I try to stay ahead of the trends, follow my instincts, and take risks.
I try to stay ahead of the trends, follow my instincts, and take risks.
If we can only buy one thing for our girls this Spring, what should it be?
Anything from Leoca Paris – specifically, one of their amazing pocket skirts.
Do you have any favorite shops in other countries?
I have a few favorite shops I always visit in Paris: Bonton, Bonpoint, Pepe, Merci and Colette.
In Tulum, I love Caravan and Hacienda Montecristo.
In Barcelona, Beriestain is a super cool concept store where you can find a restaurant, great furniture, a bookshop, a bakery, and a flower shop.
In Copenhagen, Storm, Line & Jo, Lot29 and Holly Golightly are some of my must stops, when in town.
To see more of YOYA, shop the store here.
Looking for more on kids’ fashion? Check out the top kids fashion trends from Nor-Folk.