We had the good fortune of connecting with Camille Rustia, Marly Kluge, Chrislynn VanSkiver and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Camille Rustia, Marly Kluge, Chrislynn VanSkiver, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
When we started UkayLA, we were inspired to create beautiful, quality clothing that doesn’t harm the Earth the way fast fashion does. Mass produced clothes inevitably create heaps of textile waste, and often times that waste is made of synthetic materials that don’t decompose. North America alone sends over 10 million tons of clothing to the landfill every year, 95% of which could be reused or recycled. It has been our mission to reduce this textile waste one garment at a time by using discarded fabrics in our designs. We also curate vintage clothing and make the necessary repairs to prolong their lifespan. We strive to create a line of clothing that helps consumers change the way they think about shopping. When clothes are cheap and poorly made, it is easy to think of them as disposable. When you buy one of our handmade, original pieces, it is anything but disposable. It is something you will love for a lifetime, not just a season. We believe that filling your closet with upcycled, vintage and preloved textiles can make a real impact on the environment.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
So much eco-conscious fashion out there is pretty basic–muted colors and shapeless silhouettes. I wanted to shop sustainably, but most options seemed boring and lacked a vibrant, flirty or fun vibe. Our line is sustainable, but also colorful and bold. The pieces are eclectic–from breezy, printed dresses to timeless, vintage blazers. It is a little bit of everything for just about any mood you may be in when you get dressed in the morning. We like to present pieces that can be worn in multiple ways to get maximum use out of them. You can often transition our blazers and skirts from office to weekend wear just by making a few styling changes. As a family owned business run by three cousins of different generations (20s, 30s, and 40s), we often see a piece that each of us would style in a different way to fit our individual personalities and lifestyles. We love putting our styling suggestions into our item descriptions too. We’ve crafted items that you won’t want to wear just a couple of times before donating, and we are proud that our line of clothing is for women who want to be fashion forward without adding to the water waste and other environmental effects of mass production.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When friends visit from out of town I love to first take them on a hike at Griffith Park up to the Observatory. It is a great way to infuse a little nature into a LA visit, and the view from the top gives a sense of how the city is laid out (on a clear day)! I’d follow that by bunch at Republique where we’d have to order pastries along with a few savory dishes. After breakfast we’d head to Abbot Kinney to wander around, soak up the beach vibes, and grab a drink before heading to Cassia for an Asian inspired dinner.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We’d love to give a shoutout to the documentary The True Cost directed by Andrew Morgan. This is a true testament to the power of storytelling. Watching this film changed our personal shopping habits and then inspired us to create a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. Huge shoutout to our family as well, as we are a family-owned business. It all started with our fashionable mamas who have inspired us to be bold enough to mix color, patterns and prints and bold enough to start our own business.