Charlotte and Sophie Wilson Launch YANA | Living North

Charlotte and Sophie Wilson Launch YANA


Charlotte and Sophie Wilson Launch YANA
This January sisters Charlotte and Sophie Wilson are launching their first business, YANA, an activewear brand inspired by the fierce tribes of Amazonian female warriors – and it’s just the motivation we need to get fit for 2020

Tell us a little bit about your personal backgrounds?

We're sisters, we were born in North Yorkshire but we both moved to Newcastle for University (seven years apart – don't try and guess who's the oldest, it always ends in tears) and fell in love with the city. Charlotte did a degree in Fashion Marketing at Northumbria University and was named one of Italian Vogue's top ten designers after creating a vintage lingerie collection for Graduate Fashion Week – although, after a slight change in career path she now works for Siemens. I graduated with a degree in Business Leadership and Corporate Management and moved to London to pursue a career in the defence industry. We both work full-time at the minute, but spend all of our spare time on developing YANA, I try to come up from London every other weekend to work with Charlotte.

What led you to set up YANA?

We've always dreamed of running our own business, having the freedom to do our own thing and create something special. We saw a gap in the market for a premium, British-made activewear brand for women, so we started to create some designs and went for it.

What inspires the brand?

The Amazons were a fierce tribe of women warriors, but it’s the strength of their unity that inspires us most. YANA works to capture and nurture this sense of unity within the community who trust and wear our activewear. Those who wear our clothes, share our goals, and our products are designed to be durable. As a brand, YANA will always be there to encourage those in our community to push on, and achieve their goals every day. As a company, we are a collective. We value and cherish our tribe and encourage everyone in it to strive to support one another, and rise up to their daily challenges in style.

Who is your customer?

Our customers are women who have active lifestyles, and they’re trend-setters who love high quality, British-made garments too. We are creating a supportive community for women to share their hopes, dreams and goals, whilst not having to worry about clothes that will let them down.

Tell us what sets Yana apart from other activewear brands?

We're a British-built activewear brand that combines comfort, performance and high-end style. Designed for courageous women on demanding days, our unique clothing is confident, distinct and durable. Our technical stretch garments are made using specialist fabric which has anti-cellulite technology. We've designed versatile pieces that work hard in either the office or gym – however you want to wear them!

What products do you offer?

We offer a range of products for women from technical stretch garments such as leggings and crop tops, to a post-workout dress and a range of accessories.

Have these been designed by yourselves?

All garments have been designed by Charlotte (she's the creative one!) with our brand goals and customer in mind, as well as garments that we love to wear ourselves.

How are they made?

We make high-quality and timeless designs using organic cotton and bamboo where possible, by making our garments in Britain (they’re currently made by hand in Jesmond), we've maintained a lower carbon footprint than if we were to manufacture or import items from overseas, along with our recyclable packaging too, we’re very much a sustainable brand. We were conscious when we set up YANA, of creating an ethical brand that doesn't contribute to the fast fashion, throw-away society we currently live in.

How have you found the North East as place to be a start up business?

The North East has been a fantastic place to set up a business. We looked at using manufacturers and creative agencies in London and other major UK cities, however, we found that the North East has a really strong entrepreneurial community as well as lots of independent agencies who have strong, innovative ideas that have helped us develop YANA's brand identity.

How have you found the process so far?

It's been a really interesting journey, we've had some really amazing days and some really awful days. Fortunately we have each other to share the highs and lows, so it makes it a lot easier. We often say to each other how difficult it would be if we didn't have one another to share the process, decisions and YANA story with.

What kind of challenges and setbacks have you experienced throughout the process?

Although we've been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic businesses in the North East, we've found in some instances that suppliers across the UK have a negative perception about a start-up business. Often, they won't take us seriously or will let us down at the last minute, which can have huge implications, especially for a start-up.

What is your favourite thing about the North East?

We love how many independent brands and companies operate from the North East, and how supportive and friendly they all are.

The last restaurant you visited here?

Fuego in Fenwick's Food Hall  – the king prawns are a must!

What are you watching at the moment?

The Crown

Any New Year's resolutions?

Get YANA off the ground and develop a strong customer base, as well as supporting our customers with their goals.

A song that really gets you motivated?

Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones

Published in: February 2020

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