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Meet Sanly Yuen-Li of Macrominimicro in South Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sanly Yuen-Li.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY. I grew up around the buzz of Manhattan’s garment district. My mom was a patternmaker for high-end womenswear designers and, for a time, owned a garment factory. From an early age, I loved observing designers in their creative element, surrounded by colors, fabrics and trims, dress mannequins and racks of paper patterns. I decided that I wanted to be in the fashion industry, too. As a pre-teen, I started taking fashion illustration classes at FIT. My sister and I took the same classes and we’d take the train into Manhattan on Saturdays. When it came time for college, I was accepted into their BFA Design program and spent the next 4 years in training.

Upon graduating and entering the fashion industry, I started from the bottom as assistant to designer. I wrote purchase orders for fabrics and zippers, picked up coffee and lunch for the designers I worked for, ran patterns and fabrics to and from factories. I spent hours holding safety pins open during fittings and jotting down notes. In due time, I was designing embroideries, trims, fabrics, tops and bottoms, dresses, even bridal gowns! Every position I held taught me important lessons and I have gained valuable wisdom from them. But despite all of my work experience, my most pivotal learning came from watching my mom at work. She had an excellent work ethic, produced excellent work, and she loved what she did. Even conversations at dinner sometimes involved her illustrating (with a marker on a napkin) a complex pattern piece that she had figured out. By being around her, my bar was set high.

When my husband Kenny and I decided to relocate to Los Angeles, we decided that I would stay home if we had children. As hard as it was to leave the design world as I knew it, I felt that it was important to be at home with our children, especially during the early years. We’ve been blessed with three wonderful children aged 6, 4 and 3, and I’ve been home with them throughout these years.

As a new mom, I was unable to find a bag that suited my needs both functionally and aesthetically. I didn’t like the diaper bags that were available and felt that I could create one that assimilated the best bag features for parents (working parents included!) and jet setters too. I started sketching ideas when I had the time. That led me down a rabbit hole of sourcing fabrics, manufacturers, developing multiple rounds of samples, and finally placing my first production orders.

The name Macrominimicro is a combination of our nicknames for the kids, as they sparked this collection into being. It is a unisex bag and accessories collection and has a street-inspired, utilitarian aesthetic. It took several slow and steady years to become what it is today and I’m still learning and exploring.

Two years ago, my mother died after a final battle with cancer. It was an extremely difficult time, propelling me further into the collection. I felt that the work honored all that she taught me, while also expressing my unique, creative voice. I’ve emerged from the other side of this loss forever changed but with much gained. There is a piece of my mom that is infused into all of my work.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a meandering path. For a long time, I envisioned having a traditional design career and when I transitioned to staying home as a new mom, I felt anxiety about it because I didn’t know what it was like to not work (in a career-oriented sense). Maybe it was a product of being from New York and seeing my parents work unceasingly. I just didn’t know any other way and I felt insecure about it. It took some time for me to let go of these limiting, preconceived expectations.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Macrominimicro – what should we know?
Macrominimicro is a collection of unisex bags and accessories. It embodies a minimal, utilitarian aesthetic and is designed for the dynamic lifestyle of parents, commuters and happy wanderers. My designs are pieces of the urban uniform. Product offerings include nylon satin multifunctioning bags, cotton canvas totes and pouches, and in our “new normal”, handcrafted face masks.

What I am most proud of as a company is that it started as a thought and is now a reality. With the support of my husband Kenny, and countless loved ones around me (including the local shops that carry my designs) it has become a small but mighty business.

I am responsible for design, sourcing and development, pattern making, sewing, photography and graphics. I would describe the brand as the opposite of fast fashion. Each design is produced in limited amounts so that the quality remains high. This includes designs I make in house as well as designs made through partner manufacturers.

When the pandemic hit, I felt a sense of powerlessness. Hearing about medical professionals without proper PPE was troubling, and thinking about my friends and family without access to masks prompted me to experiment with sewing face masks. I’ve always loved fabrics and had a collection of them at home. Making masks was a worthwhile reason to use them. I started making them for friends and family, for some local businesses, and for our local hospital. In time, people asked if I was selling masks. After some fine tuning, I added masks to our product offerings. The fabrics that I use for my masks are either vintage, repurposed, or purchased from other small businesses. It brings me joy to make masks as it combines my love for fabrics and design with my desire for the well being of others. I communicate with the world through Macrominimicro. Each design is a piece of me, and sharing this creates a connection that is invaluable.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Maintaining excellent quality is essential. Infusing unique and eclectic fabric combinations adds refreshment to the cool, urban vibe of the collection. Lastly, customer service must be outstanding.

Pricing:

  • Masks priced at 17-35
  • Bags and Accessories 15-99

Contact Info:

  • Website: macrominimicro.com
  • Email: hello@macrominimicro.com
  • Instagram: @macrominimicro


Image Credit:

Photo of mask display taken at Handle and Gift in South Pasadena.

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