I recently sat down with Lisa Yoon founder of Tina + Jo, and Sheena Snyder the current designer behind the Fall 2015 collection. Each piece, inspired by the natural landscapes of California is a wearable piece of art. The colors, patterns, and elegance of each piece is crafted through artful creative exploration and experimentation.
Lisa Yoon, founder of Tina+Jo (left) and Sheena Snyder, current designer (right)
How long have you been in LA
LY: My background has always been more in Junior wears, like Forever 21. Two years ago, I found the timing was good to change to a better, more high-end line. That's when Tina + Jo happened.
SS: I am new here. My first collection was actually this last Fall 2015.
What are your biggest inspirations?
LY: I’m a nature person, I go hiking every weekend. Whenever I see something, like a piece of rock, wood, a dead tree, it kind of gives me the idea of what I can do to bring that into the clothing and prints. It just comes from anything I see in nature. I take pictures of the clouds everyday because the colors are so different and it gives me a lot of inspiration.
SS: I paint. I am inspired by the way the colors blend together. I am also influenced by Lisa’s interior design background…I am very into seeing the structure of things. I love that you can start off with an image but have it change so much through development. It can look even better than you thought or nothing like what you thought. The process is insane. We’re really trying to get more involved in creative dyes and specialty dyes. So its very nature inspired but also just everything—whatever’s around you and how the colors blend together.
inspiration board and fabric explorations
Would you best define the brand as organic?
LY: It’s definitely a part of it. We use a dye house that uses solar power. We are trying to use more organic and reclaimed fabrics...so I think starting Spring ’16, we’re going to use recycled fabrics.
SS: We want to get more into recycled and organic fabrics but still have the really great soft touch. There are so many recycled fabrics and it would be awesome to create something that is so good for the environment and is sustainable.
What materials do you use now?
LY: We use a lot of Modals, Rayon, Challis, and we’re trying to introduce a Jacquard texture and more silk blended fabrics.
And all of the dying is done separately?
LY: Yes we have many great dye houses in LA. Because American denim is so popular, these dye houses start out with denim lines so they have the facility to do the denim wash plus the novelty dyes.
What is the process? Is it hand dyed?
SS: Yes. Everything is hand-dyed. We usually start out with some images that we’ll bring to the dye house, like photos that we’ve taken or something we’ve painted. They’re using different types of process so we come with great ideas but then translating into clothing is a whole different game. We do all of the fittings, details, and constructions while we’re also developing dyes at the same time. Then we finally put them into the piece.
LY: Different fabrics take dyes differently so we test strips of different fabrics that we think we're going to use. Then we see what looks good and make a body from there.
Sounds like a lot of work that goes into each piece.
LY: Yes, that’s exactly how we figure the prices. The work behind each piece—the time and effort—its a lot. But we try to make it still reasonable.
SS: We really want to encompass that you’re wearing clothing, but also that you’re wearing art because its one of a kind and its been developed from our studio. We’re not copying anything or buying a print that everyone is using.
Lisa and Sheena discussing some of the new fabric ideas for the upcoming Holiday collection
I also see some cultural influences behind the collection. Can you tell me about any places that have inspired your designs?
LY: I used to travel when I was doing a lot of Juniors business like London, Paris, and Hong-Kong. Most production is done in China and Korea. Even if you’re not really looking for anything in particular, you look at people in the streets and get the idea of what works and what doesn’t. So I guess it just stays with you and when the times comes to design it just comes out naturally. I'm never looking for anything specific when I travel.
Yes, just getting out of LA is sometimes enough to clear the head. You mentioned hiking, what’s your favorite place?
LY: I like Mount Baldy a lot. It ‘s beautiful. There’s plenty of shade and running water.
Do you think you’ll ever leave LA?
LY: My friends tell me LA is such a hard place to do fashion business, because we come from a place where everyone is a different background so everyone has different tastes. For example—in New York, they’re very conservative. They wear black all of the time. So its kind of easy. But in LA, anything goes. But LA has everything—you meet a lot of people, there’s great food. There’s the mountains and the beach.
What are the next steps for Tina + Jo?
LY: I guess what I want to do eventually is try to wear casual but luxury. Right now we have very reasonably prices pieces that you can dress up and dress down with jeans, etc. I guess I would like to go more into luxury. But right now my hands are pretty full. Laughs.
For someone who wanted to do some DIY dying projects, what advice would you give?
SS: For personal projects, you can just go to a craft store like Michaels and get the Rit Liquid Dyes. Just get washable friendly paint. It’s a lot of getting creative with it and creating something from it.
before and after samples of the dye process
Any other hobbies to take a break and unwind?
LY: I like going to galleries and street festivals in Laguna and in LA just to see what’s going on and see what people are wearing and get inspiration from there too.
SS: I have a lot of different creative projects always going on so to mellow out I love to paint. I don’t have a lot of time anymore but I do graphic freelance and design wedding gowns. I also love yoga.
What trends are you forecasting for spring?
LY: We were just at a trend seminar and they’re forecasting that the 70’s trend is going to be huge.
SS: Yes the Indian inspired prints like quilting and art are also predicted. We’re definitely going to try and incorporate some of that influence into our next collection.
hundreds of beautifully dyed pieces hang throughout the studio