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Sweet and Spicy


Article by Khrystyna Iaroshenko

Photography by @sayyabylubamakarenko

I was looking for a perfect size bag quite long. And one day magic happened, I was scrolling instagram and boom, ideal, amazing, sophisticated purse from brand named SAYYA. I couldn’t stay away and reach out to designer Luba Makarenko and ask for the interview.

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What does your work aim to say?

SAYYA is my ultimate way of self-expression. My goal was to create a colorful and ironic fashion brand. Back in school everyone had to wear a uniform, while I was a rebel. Guess it was the beginning of my urge to be different from everyone else. And SAYYA girl is the same: you can notice her in a candy-pink suit in the crowd, or she can wear a cocktail dress for morning coffee with friends. We are free to choose.

How have you developed your career? Tell us about your background.

It has been a really long way, I dreamed of being a fashion designer since I was a kid. At the time the fashion market in Ukraine had just started developing and nothing was certain in post-Soviet reality. Nowadays it’s a huge industry with a lot of worldwide known brands.

I started my brand in 2010 right after I graduated. Our first Ukrainian Fashion Week show was held in 2012, and next season we showcased our collection in Paris during Art Paris. We also had several shows at Kazakhstan Fashion Week, Tbilisi Fashion Week and in Paris once again.  

After several seasons with UFW I was offered a contract with Isabel Garcia and took the challenge to live in China for 6 months. That’s where I got amazing experience working with large collection ranges. It helped me learn how to develop my own brand. I also worked for AMA, a french luxury plus size brand, and we showcased our collections in the States, Germany and France. After that I decided to concentrate on my own brand.

How has your practice changed over time? 

I learned a lot over these years, because I was often on business trips, and I developed a way to work remotely with my team. Now I live in Tbilisi and our main studio is in Kyiv, and it is online work for me every day. It is important not to lose the brand’s identity, so I am learning to analyze the market, analyze our clients, and still to keep up with the brand’s main codes. The main focus is creating a community around the brand.

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 What skills are necessary to become a successful designer?

 I love creating, my favorite activities include searching for ideas and inspiration, creating samples when a sketch becomes a puzzle element of a collection. 

I love seeing my clients happy, when they say that it’s something they’ve been looking for during try-ons, when an item becomes their must have and must want. 

I am a non-traditional shopaholic, I breathe fabric and hardware shopping. My job is a dream job, but it’s not a fairy-tale. Moments after the show are the happiest moments, and then you start with hard work over again. A bad decision can cost you a productive season.

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What skills are necessary for a successful fashion designer? 

Everything: you are a psychologist, a trendsetter, marketing manager, PR agent, copywriter, artist, seamstress. When working for a smaller brand you have to work hard, we do not have a different office for different tasks. You definitely need great time management skills, it’s pretty hard without it. I have to admit, I’m not perfect with it, but nobody’s perfect.

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How would you deal with an arrogant client?

 I appreciate each and every client. Everybody has their own mood and temper, but you can find an approach to anybody. After all, one may just be having a hard day and it’s the designer’s and store managers’ duty to act as a psychiatrist. In case if it is utter arrogance, it’s just not our client and I’m fine with that too. Everyone in our SAYYA family is super nice and friendly.

What is your day to day schedule like?

It depends on where I am, but always start with a plan for the day. I also check my team’s schedules, do fittings with clients, work on new samples. Meetings are also an important part, online and offline. Once a week we plan activities with our PR office. My schedule is never fixed, but that’s the fun part.

I usually create collections at night or isolate myself from everything. I can spend the whole night at the studio, and then clean it up in the morning. You have to feel the time and keep moving, nothing happens on it’s own.

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How do you manage stress and pressure?

The best option is to leave for a different country for a couple of days. Love flying, the longer the flight, the better I switch realities. Travelling is the best inspiration and rest. Also, I love walking outside or doing yoga, sport always helps to reset the brain.

Who are your biggest influences?

Guess it’s not personalities, but my urge to be the best version of myself. Even though I can be really lazy at times.

Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

Successful, profitable and with a retail chain of 50 stores all over the world. I think it’s an ok plan for the next 5 year, isn’t it?

Best ideas from you for a Halloween that our readers can make at home?

The first thing that comes to my mind is Jumanji movie. Try turning your home into a game, creating a theme party with a challenge feels like the best idea.

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Shop Here | IG: @sayyabylubamakarenko