We had the good fortune of connecting with Hanna Yocute and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hanna, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It is kind of wild to think back and pin-point when the “process” of starting my own business began because a lot of the ground work for me was exploration, conversations which lead to thinking, deep thinking, to eventually an action plan. I remember as a college student, I preferred when guest speakers would visit the classroom to talk about a business they had started as an entrepreneur or hear an artist describe themselves as a creative entrepreneur who managed to successfully create various streams of revenue for themselves. I personally do not believe in being a starving artist. I believe being a creative person is so extremely valuable with varied opportunities for financial gain and that is why it is so important for us creatives to learn how to value and monetize our skill set. I believe it was through hearing the success stories of other creatives that fueled my creative mind into desiring to start a business. To seek to develop a brand that I would strongly resonate with and be willing to invest in. I also want to emphasize the freedom of exploration which is so key to starting your own business because exploration often inspires a degree of concentration. I believe a lot of our young people are being deprived of the freedom of exploring their passions for the sake of “stability.”While stability is important, I believe there are many trailheads that can lead to such a destination. I graduated from UCLA in 2020, during the height of COVID-19 and during the LA stay-at-home order. Normally, when you graduate you have a collective of people—most of the time, it’s family or your parents’ friends—asking you, what are you up to now? Have you gotten a job yet? What’s the next move? And while I did get a lot of those questions and still do, I am thankful that the pressure wasn’t flooding in from all directions to just get a job that would silence the people. I am so thankful now that I had that season to explore, with the support of my immediate family, and am now continuing to explore through launching my own business.
During my last year of graduate school, in January 2020, I joined the online seller’s community on the Depop app to earn a little extra cash. Once I graduated virtually, I started receiving more orders online because of the pandemic. At the time, it seemed logical to focus on my e-commence shop since in-person jobs weren’t really in demand. I began focusing on curating second-hand and vintage pieces meanwhile learning more about the vintage marketplace. I was wearing so many hats while running my Depop shop @hannayocute—doing all the photography, styling, modeling, editing, posting, copywriting, marketing, social-media, customer-service, packaging and shipping—that I did not realize how naturally good I was at it until customers were leaving me 5-star reviews and friends on my Instagram page were constantly raving about my visual marketing skills or asking to directly buy from me.
I was later invited by Depop to join their exclusive “Road to Top Seller” program—Blue Tick Status. Through the program, I learned some more strategies on how to grow my shop. While I was loving the community on Depop, I knew I did not want to stay on the platform forever. Normally, it takes sellers years to move on from Depop and start their own brand. Though, through some conversations with other sellers on the app, I realized a lot of them had become comfortable and were dependent on Depop for their sales, exposure and influence. It became evident to me, that I needed to establish something of my own and develop a personal brand. Depop, for me, was just a means of discovering I had a passion for re-selling, designing and connecting with people, especially women, through my long-established love for vintage fashion. I began to move away mentally from Depop with a quiet confidence that if I put in the same amount of consistency, patience and quality in developing something of my own I would eventually see the fruit of my labor in it as well.
In January of 2021, I continued to run my Depop shop while self-educating myself in fashion trends. I discovered that the market and demand for vintage is growing. There is a rising awareness for sustainability, diversity and inclusivity in vintage fashion while also a desire to express individuality through styling one-of-one vintage pieces. Growing up in the LA area and born to Central American immigrant parents, thrifting vintage, dead stock and second-hand pieces were a necessity, rather than the luxury it has become today. Shopping vintage and second-hand was at one point in my lifetime rarified. I remember my mom would be so embarrassed to bring out the charity shop bags out of the car and would tell us to hide the thrift-shop logo as we walked into the house. And God forbid she found you wearing an outfit that still had the thin yellow price tag fastener sticking out. Now, vintage and second-hand shopping is becoming more main-stream. A good vintage find is a moment to be proud of, especially if you find it at a good price. I suppose all the experience from shopping in thrift stores as a kid is now a special skill that can make you good money, if you can successfully identify and select unique vintage pieces. While vintage is becoming “main-stream,” I never considered myself comfortable with the idea of being main-stream. I am always asking myself as a musical artist, how will I be different? So, I applied the same question to my fashion business. One late night, I found myself unable to sleep, starring at the ceiling trying to answer that very question when suddenly the phrase “beyond her years” came to mind. I immediately grabbed my phone, did a quick google search and nothing significant came up. I then thought, I would like to encourage women, especially young women, to seek wisdom and bring women of all nations and tribes together to share their wisdom with one another through visual story- telling. And the means I will use to build this collective of women will be through selling vintage items that seek to be loved well beyond their trending years and by further providing a marketplace for emerging female creatives who are seeking to build or expand their brand’s message. That was the concept and thought process before the action plan that took a tribe of creative women—friends of mine—to help me in the launch of beyondheryears.co: Photographer, Mikaela Elson (@hiitsmik), Logo Artist: Emma Barnard (@emma_makes_stuff), Artisan, Karen Limkriengkrai (@_homebasedstudio), and Models: Sascha Jenelle Clark (@sascha.c), Muwosi (@muwosi), Serena Nanely (@nanely05), May Zeng (a_may_zeng), and Agnes Azria (@agnastyy). beyondheryears.co will be launching with an exclusive vintage collection drop curated and styled by Hanna Yocute ft. a collaboration with jewelry designer, Karen Limkriengkrai @_homebasedstudio.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a woman of faith and much of my creative artistry is inspired by my faith. My music is a reflection of my spirituality, they are stories of my hardships and how my faith has seen me through some difficult times. My lyrics are often poetic and tell a story of a woman who is internally
struggling, but always finds rest in the truth. It was not easy to find myself as an artist, in fact, I would say God brought out the artist in me. I was studying classical guitar at UCLA and I was going through a lot at the time. My personality has always been quite reserved, especially when it came to the personal and emotional. Though, there was one particular season when it became “too much.” And I became so overwhelmed that I began to song- write and lyrics were just flowing out of me like sorrowful prayers. I shared one of my songs with a close friend, Lenard Simpson, alto saxophonist and composer who graduated from the Herbie Hancock Institute (’20) and he told me you need to be sharing your music. I told him I wasn’t ready and that my music was personal. He then told me, you are withholding your testimony from someone who could be greatly encouraged by it. He nailed me right there and I could not argue with that. That same week, I was asked to do a live show (pre-COVID) and the venue specifically requested for original music only. I knew at that moment, I had to perform my music. It was not easy to talk boldly about my faith and about some of the things I had gone through including the loss of a cousin. But I have found that sharing more often matures me in my faith and encourages others. Through my
brand, beyondheryears.co, I also wanted to carry over that value–of being transparent about my faith even though it is still a business. One of the reasons why I love vintage is because it is set apart from fast fashion and a lot of the times as a musical artist I feel set apart from main-stream music. So within both platforms, music and fashion, I felt a call to be separate and I had to learn it is okay to have a brand, story or music that might not resonate with everyone–but it will resonate with someone. And to trust that the right people will gravitate towards it if I am being true to who I am. I am excited to witness the growth of a collective of women who do resonate with beyond her years’ mission. While I know my brand may not resonate with everyone, it is a brand that promotes a journey that shows no partiality and a pilgrimage that is all-inclusive; the journey to pursuing wisdom.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So I am a food person and any best friend of mine has to love eating food of all kinds. So I’ll list out some great spots we would definitely hit on the week long visit. First off, Sawtelle is the spot, UCLA friends know this. Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles, Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen West L.A. (please order the Goma Chicken with the special sesame sauce, so good), Volcano Tea House. Korean BBQ and Hot Pot anywhere in LA in generally really good. The Grand Central Market is also open and I personally love the Thai street food restaurant called, “Sticky Rice.” Dave’s Hot Chicken in North Hollywood is also a treat. We would for sure go to the beach, go through Santa-Monica Promenade first then to the ocean shore. Hotel Cafe, would be a live music spot and I would have loved to mention others like the bluewhale jazz club, but COVID did some damage for live-music venues. There’s also great coffee shops in LA, my personal favorite is The Conservatory For Coffee, Tea & Cocoa in Culver City; a small mom and pop shop that makes excellent coffee!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to Jacob Hoffman, an independent fitness studio consultant, minor owner of GoTribe Fitness and Curriculum General Manager at Grace Community Church: (818) 909-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Crazy story! I went into a final interview with Jacob Hoffman for a customer- service representative job. He asked me to tell him about myself and I told him I was a musician, artist and creative working towards launching my own business. I told him I was interested in the customer-service rep. job to gain experience and expand my knowledge on e-commerce and customer service. He asked me to tell him about the business I was launching, I gave him a quick elevator pitch. His eyes lit up and he began telling me about when he started his own business; owning an independent gym which later expanded into five gyms. Now he’s growing his personal brand as an independent consultant for people in the fitness world who want to start their own gym or personal-trainer brand. Hoffman, basically advised me to focus on my business 100% and made me realize I did not need to get a traditional job to begin investing in my business. He then offered to help me in the launch of my business, to look over my marketing and business plan free of charge. I listened to his wisdom and turned down the job offer, but accepted his offer to mentor me in business. I really respected his transparency and willingness to help a young emerging entrepreneur like myself. I feel like most hiring managers would have told me to let go of the business endeavors and focus on getting the job I was applying for or would have sent me away with a “good luck with your business.” Though, Jacob Hoffman was gracious enough to tell me, I don’t think you would be happy working here if your passion is to start your business. And if that’s your passion, go do it—In fact, I’ll help you figure out how to do it!
Instagram: @hannayocute; @beyondheryears.co
Photographer: Mikaela Elson (@hiitsmik) Models: Sascha Jenelle Clark (@sascha.c), Muwosi (@muwosi), Hanna Yocute (@hannayocute), May Zeng (@a_may_zeng), Agnes Azria (agnastyy) and Serena Nanely (@nanely05). Jewelry: Karen Limkriengkrai (@_homebasedstudio)