Q & A | Designer Yokoo Gibraan

Atlanta creative Yokoo Gibraan is in her 30s, has made more than $140,000 in one year—largely from Etsy—and she, along with her work, has been featured on the front page of the New York Times. She knits, photographs, poses for her own products, shoots and edits videos and promotes and packages her accessories and clothes, often with personalized messages.

Yep, she’s a badass. A busy badass, who spends up to 16 hours a day sitting inside her home, knitting, answering emails from customers and people like me (thankfully!), watching old Westerns, cleaning her kitchen floor with Clorox Clean-Up Bleach and obsessing over conspiracy theories.

Her designs are oversized, attention grabbing, chunky and wool-blended warm. Think large scarves that look like gold chains, bold necklaces and soft accessories that will keep you cozy even in the coldest of winters.

All of the scarves on her Etsy are handmade, and now she has a new clothing line, called Mother, which sells handmade and vintage skirts, dresses and aprons that are prairie-like and old fashioned, but also quirky (especially when Yokoo models them). Her clothing line stems from a desire to rid people of the notion that modern feminism equals the absence of femininity.

“I wanted to design clothes for the true feminist; Women who are not afraid to be women,” Yokoo told Women’s Web.

Yokoo likes to be different. She began wearing her aprons, not in the kitchen, but simply as a way to stand out whenever she actually did leave her house. One thing’s for sure: When you wear Yokoo’s accessories and clothes— maybe a scarf, a necklace, a hat or a dress—more than a few eyes will be watching you.

CommonCreativ: What magazines and publications have covered your work?

YG: I’ve been featured in Vice Magazine, New York Times, L.A. Times, Nylon, Bust, Esquire, Uppercase Magazine, Frankie Mag, Korean Vogue, Mint Magazine, MSN Holiday Gift Guide and Teen Vogue. I also had my accessories worn in a Nissan Commercial and a music video with Aseop Rock and Kimya Dawson.

[Writer’s note: Also, her design studio has been feature on The Huffington Post. ]

CC: Your creations can be purchased through Etsy and Anthropologie, anywhere else?

YG: Occasionally I’ll sell my accessories to boutiques. Right now, I have some chain scarves in Judy Maxwell Home (which is owned by Joan Cusack!).

[Writer’s note: Yokoo also collaborated with Urban Outfitters.]

CC: How would you describe your style?

YG: As of late, my style has been very Melissa Steadman. I feel it’s an upshot from the post-modern chic-ness that spills through my computer [on] fashion blogs. I find myself completely terrified at the notion that I have somehow finally assimilated—even if it means clinging to dated norms. I love long, tweed coats, gray, wool slacks, camping socks and anything that would generally drive one to itching fits and nose tears.

CC: How has your style evolved?

YG: Sadly, my style has not evolved at all. In fact, I’ve discovered that throwing away one’s clothes can be a whole new form of shopping. The junk that one accumulates over the years seems to obscure the one or two pieces of any real value. So, now [that] I think of it, I’m probably devolving.

CC: You seem to like things with a mysterious quality. Why is that? How do you see that relating to your work?

YG: I don’t really try to be […] a mystique or have [anything] other than a quiet, honest and open connection with my audience. I don’t ever see it as mysterious until weeks later when I may go back to a project and realize, “Oh wow, that was rather strange.” I think a lot of that comes naturally from attempting to communicate all of the diverging and disparate backgrounds that have played such a major role in my life.

CC: What inspires you?

YG: New ways of thinking. An original take on an old idea. Philo’s approach to fashion. Ephron’s approach to cinema. Storyboard P’s approach to dancing.

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CC: So you make accessories and now clothes, what else can we expect?

YG: I want to eventually move more into acting and video production. It’s the only medium that incorporates all that I’m most passionate about: fashion, writing, music and photography. I’ve learned that using photography alone is far too one dimensional to fully communicate an idea. I also like the fact that there’s a bit of a learning curve, so it tends to filter those that aren’t too serious about their craft.

CC: What do you think about Atlanta?

YG: Atlanta, being such a new and developing city, seems to attract those who want to really make a mark in the world while repelling those who favor latching on to something that has already been established. Right now, anything is possible in Atlanta; it’s the city of wide-eyed dreamers. One comes to Atlanta to create. If you’re in this city to be spoon fed, then you’re probably in the wrong place.