Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Younger.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kate. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Building a New category in fashion. It’s a test of faith Katescuffs®.
Is it jewelry? Is it an Accessory? It is Unique!
When I applied for the patent on the design and manufacturing process for my cuffs, the patent office thought the intellectual property rights were inherent to medium. In other words, they believed that everyone who works in leather knows how to make a cuff, like handbags, jackets or shoes. I requested proof. In their search, they could not provide one single instance where my designs and process were ever produced, world-wide. Hence, I hold the utility patent for Kate Younger Designs®.
Big Deal! You bet. The jewelry/cuffs we make are exquisite. Luxury craftsmanship meets Urban Cool Design. We combine fine leathers (including Vegan) semi-precious gems, metals, stylish closures and embroidery techniques all handcrafted. They maintain the value of jewelry and the quality of luxury leather goods.
We have hundreds of styles ranging from “Street Wear” to “Glitz & Glam” for Red Carpet Events, for both men and women. All patterned, in 3 sizes (S, M, L.) Clients reactions are wide-eyed, Stylists freak when they try our cuffs on for the first time: “So cool! So different! I Love it!”.
Kate Younger Designs is the result of studying art and working in both fashion and business. I attended the University of Siena and The University of Toronto. Then, worked in Toronto and New York as a Petite model. I paid attention and learned the “Rag Trade”. In between shows or fittings I would explore the Fashion District. I loved the possibilities of all the materials, the bolts, the buttons, the dust, and the hardware.
By chance one lunch hour, I met an old Italian craftsman, who during the course of our friendship was generous and taught me his techniques. That was it. I started my own Fashion Accessory company in Toronto. I designed pieces I wanted to wear. Belts, fascinators, body chains and earrings. While working for magazines and TV, the stylists/editors were always looking for accessories to make the outfits POP! I was working on really elaborate designer belts and was commissioned to do a belt for a client for the Brazilian Ball, in Toronto’s horsey crowd. I used antique gold wire, black tulle, and cabochon rubies appliqued on black suede. It was fantastic. That’s when I started cuff bracelets, adapting and improving the technique into beautiful wrist jewelry.
The idea caught on quickly and was stocked by fashion-forward boutiques in trendy Yorkville. We did magazines, both covers and editorials, featuring either my products or myself. It was a really fun time. Several actors, singers, and just talented people also worked for me, making jewelry and extra cash. It was a great little cottage industry.
My partner at the time was one of the Artistic Directors from London for Vidal Sassoon. He wanted to move to San Francisco, but Vidal wanted him to open up the east with salons and schools. So, we took the opportunity and moved to Hong Kong. That was a super creative time. I worked as a model, stylist and make-up artist for the fashion magazines.
It was a time of really prestigious international clients like Japan Airlines, Doritos, and Heineken Beer, through the big ad agencies. The really interesting part was working for the Chinese film companies and learning their craft for all the action films. So, loved it.
Years later, I met my husband Bart Santorelli, who can make a guitar sing and a balance sheet soar. We started our first retail store together selling high-end Home Theatre and car stereo. We were successful for many years, until the internet and Walmart driven price dictating, changed the margins of all the manufacturers. We were so smart to shift our business model into Smart Home Technology contracting. Which brought us to California. Everybody loves technology but can’t really drill down to design and install entire residential systems that can be accessed anywhere in the world. Bart, myself and our team can. We have not looked back.
Go figure, now that I’m behind the camera, I have also been contacted to photograph several covers and editorials in addition to my website. So grateful to the super talented stylists and magazines that look out for me!
Finally, this year, my focus is finding a US manufacturer with the expertise to craft these cuffs or license to footwear and sport franchises corporations.
So busy. So happy, making it happen. Stay Cool!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Creativity is always life-affirming. A gift from God!
However, developing your craft into a viable business is a life-long pursuit. Like so many artists, I work multiple jobs in order to pay bills and afford my dreams. I remain a partner in BCAV INC. (Smart Home Technology) while managing my time between the two companies.
I have two really big challenges facing Katescuffs® at the moment. The first being hardware. It does not exist in the scale I need. I am forever adapting jewelry or leather findings to make my cuffs. Being ingenious is now part of the design process. I am constantly problem solving, making things fit or re-imagining its use. Eventually, I will design the closures, but you have to produce them in significant volume in order to make them cost-effective. Therefore, currently, the available Italian hardware dictates my designs instead of the other way around.
The second challenge is finding an American manufacturer to produce my cuffs in volume and quality. I believe in an American made economy. So far, I’ve come close, but the craftsmanship requires two skill sets; luxury leather goods and jewelry making. Italy may be the solution. I anticipate a partnership with a footwear supplier who, I believe have all the right machinery to do the details and is a perfect fit with their seasonal inventory. Katescuffs® compliment footwear sales. It is an increased revenue stream basically made from their scraps.
Please tell us about Kate Younger Designs.
One of the skills I am most proud of in shaping Kate Younger Designs is the ability to multi-task. Working both companies has taught me to deal with the most pressing issues first and then relaxing into the creative. All aspects of running the company, from accounting to design and manufacturing are important. They have to be prioritized and scheduled, to which I am a pretty good at.
I have also learned to collaborate with other talented people and TRUST their judgment. You can’t do it all and it is so FABulous when their input is magic. We all win!!
I try to specialize in excellence. Sometimes, I drive myself and everyone else crazy, trying to do the right thing, get the best results, finish the job. I know my drive can inspire or bring on contempt. I know I make things look easy and people feel that I’m lucky.
Yeah Baby! The harder I work the luckier I get!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Stay in the present.
- $199.00 – $1,500.00
- Website: www.kateyounger.com
- Phone: 1-310-617-0826
- Email: Kateyounger@gmail.com
- Instagram: #Katescuffs
- Facebook: Kate Younger Designs
- Twitter: @Katescuffs
Dina Morrone, Raydel Caceres, Jennifer Hemphill, Maria Elena Infantino