Tze Ching Yeung is the owner and founder of Jake + Maya [Kids], a slow fashion brand for fast growing kids, thriving to help reduce textile waste by making kids clothing last longer than a couple of growth spurts.
Today we thought we’d get to know Tze Ching a little more.
Why did you start your brand?
The idea came to me when I was clearing out my kids’ wardrobes one day, noticing that most of their outgrown clothes were still in very good condition. It seemed like such a waste to get rid of them.
I want to see if there was a way to make clothes last longer than they currently do.
You had a prolific store before, Monster & Munchkins, what made you start afresh?
Although Monsters and Munchkins was doing really well, I didn’t feel passionate about it. I wanted to do more than be a store owner. My vision is to create a destination where conscious consumers can get inspired, learn and connect with other people that also want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. I want to provide solutions for busy parents to help make better choices easier.
What does your typical working day look like?
My son wakes me up at 7am. We have a quick snuggle before I go and wake my daughter up. We all have breakfast together before my husband walks the kids to school at 8.30am.
9-10am – Walk Daisy (the dog), while listening to a book on audible. Mostly inspirational or business related.
10-3pm – Non-stop work. These hours always pass too quickly, as there is always so much that I want to do and typically, I am doing something that I really want to finish around 3pm. Luckily, school is only a few minutes away.
3-7.30pm – Mother/chauffeur/cook.
8-11.30pm – Evening shift. This is the time when most of my creative work gets done and it’s my favourite part of the day. I love working in the evening; when there are no distractions or sounds and nowhere to rush off to. I aim to get in bed before midnight but, quite often, I don’t actually manage that.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think a lot when I am out walking and as soon as I get in, I sit down and start developing my ideas in my journal. I have so many ideas and if I don’t write them down, I will forget them.
Some make it beyond my journal and gets made into reality with the help of my team. Rachel, my sample maker, is quite used to me turning up at work with yet another idea for her to make happen …so far she is loving the challenge.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
People are becoming increasingly conscious of their consumption and genuinely looking for ways to live more sustainably.
Who inspires you now and who has influenced your thinking?
Usually, it is ideas or actions that inspire me, not so much people … Partly because I am really terrible with names and can’t remember them !
You made a huge lifestyle change, moving from the city to the countryside to live a more sustainable life. What has been the biggest success and the biggest challenge in making such a move?
Biggest success I’d say would be to have more time to connect with myself and my family. It is funny how “busy” you get with distractions in the city. Being in the country and living a slower paced life has definitely allowed me to become more focussed on achieving my goals, both personally and professionally.
There hasn’t actually been that many challenges. I really love it out here. I love the space, the quietness. OK, one thing I have to say has been tricky – childcare. We don’t have a babysitter here and can’t call on family to help as they are too far away. So going out in the evenings with my husband has been difficult.
However, a good friend of mine has recently started Kowalah, a baby-sitting app, where you get connected with qualified and vetted baby-sitters in the area. So, it looks like even that problem has been solved !
Talking about challenges, what do you find to be the biggest challenge for a brand with sustainability at its core?
I think one of the main battles for sustainable brands is in communications. It is not easy to change people’s perception of fashion when fast-fashion is so in-grained in people’s shopping habits. Changing people’s mind-set is difficult.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have cleared out my studio space, as now I don’t have time to do it and there is “stuff” everywhere.
What’s next for you and your brand?
We are currently talking to potential partners to help us scale the business, so exciting times ahead. Can’t talk too much about that just yet!
Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
Set up a social enterprise to help support local disadvantaged people. We are currently speaking to some charities, trying to find ways to do this.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
When I was younger, I dreamt of becoming a professional dancer and that’s what brought me to London all those years ago.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting a sustainable brand?
Make sure you know why you are doing it because starting a sustainable brand, or any brand, is tough and in order to keep yourself motivated, you need a strong reason why. Be specific with your why.
How do you make the time to be so creative? Your Instagram is full of your amazing art.
My brain is always thinking, trying to figure stuff out, so in order to give it a break, I sit down and create every now and then. That’s the only time my thoughts stop swirling around in my head like 100 miles an hour. It helps me focus.
I recently started a business plan journal, where I illustrate my plans and ideas instead of writing it all down. It sure makes business planning a lot more fun.
Why should people buy from you?
Because they love what we do; our style, our ethos and more importantly, because they want to do something a little different. They want to make a positive change in their consumption.
Want to know more? Connect with Tze Ching:
Website: jakeandmaya.com – you’re here! So sign up to the newsletter!