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Meet Tricia Tanaka

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tricia Tanaka.

Tricia, before we jump into specific questions about your business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My name is Tricia Tanaka and this is my story. I am a Japanese American native Angeleno. After graduating from Cal poly Pomona with a graphic design degree, I move to New York City, we are nightlife inspired the making of themed outfits and costumes. After 9-11, I was laid off entering that lull, I taught myself how to design and sew my own clothes. I began making one of a kind pieces for friends and performing artists. It would also be the start of a career in the hospitality industry that would allow me to finance my dreams.

I moved back to LA, to intern for David Park, who is designing the first Smashbox clothing line. He told me the entire manufacturing process – From fabric selection, pattern making, marking and grading, cutting, dyeing, two different methods of sewing.

At age 29, I was diagnosed with a heart condition and had a pacemaker implanted. It was do or die, And I felt I needed to go out on my own. I self-funded my own line of cutting sew graphic tees, called Spiders & Caviar, a celebrity favorite. During expansion, I took on a financial partner, who turned out to be dysfunctional and medicated, and in turn, I lost my business. I was devastated.

It has taken almost a decade to get the courage to put another line together. I have self-funded my current business with bartending, graphic design projects and manufacturing consulting. Tricia Tanaka Clothing is a grassroots company, where I manage every aspect of the business from the design and manufacturing, to the website and graphics, marketing and advertising, to the sales and distribution.

Technology and social media platforms have allowed me to think of my line differently from the industry-standard or in the past. Using the direct to consumer business model, I am able to create clothing that inspires me now versus two to three seasons ahead, keeping prices down by cutting out showrooms/retailers and the opportunity to treat this as my art.

I have been questioning for over a decade why I can’t create piece by piece, Like painters and sculptors. Platforms like Kickstarter, allowed me to launch a successful campaign for the Cape Hoodie, a bestseller. Slowly but surely, I am figuring out how to run my business like an artist.

I am in the process of launching another Kickstarter campaign for the kimono robes. As well as a design and sew, create your own cocktails channel called “Cocktail Dress with Tricia Tanaka”, where I get to showcase two of my expertises.

Has it been a smooth road?
The struggle is real. As a solo entrepreneur, I am continuing to master marketing, accounting, production, sales, and business in general. The first challenge was how to produce clothing without taking on an investor. Manufacturing is a numbers game the more you produce the better the price. But as a small business, committing to 1000 yards of fabric, 1000 zippers, 1000 buttons or 1000 dresses is not smart business. It’s been almost a decade of hard work to find the right people to produce my line.

With a Social media playing such a large part of marketing and sales, it’s an internal battle to be at the forefront. Like many artists, my work is so personal that being boastful about it is counterintuitive. Making art is therapeutic and soothing, and social media and marketing are the opposite.

Running a clothing line in Los Angeles is a difficult and competitive venture. It comes with a lot of ups and downs. Having perseverance, courage and optimism are daily challenges for me. I love what I do, it’s a matter of turning it from a hobby to a business, which is also a fine line.

Tell us more about the business.
At first, Tricia Tanaka Clothing was set out to create a spin of menswear for women, Starting out with a dress shirt dress, Pants and the suit. The dress shirt dress was inspired by a pajama lingerie party. I had taken an oversized men’s shirt, sewed in darts to make it a form-fitted and had created the fantasy of “the morning after”. It carries the same connotation as the schoolgirl uniform and wanted to create it for everyday fashion.

With the addition of the Cape Hoodie and the muscle tees, the line begins morphing into a gender-free clothing line. In a world today where femininity Is on the rise, my clothing is giving women, men, and transgender’s the opportunity to fully express themselves without any judgment.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The Fashion Industry is already very fast-paced. The prominent fashion houses create 5 seasons a year, I don’t see that easing up. With an increase of online sales, there will be more direct to consumer companies, so an even more saturated market. Like our economy today, there will be a split of high-end fashion and then everything else.

Trends will move faster due to social media and the “influencing”. I project that this will come to a climax and then people will want less influence and to be creative and unique.

In ten years, I think there will be little physical retail left. There will be virtual dressing rooms and designers will have the opportunity to be even more global.

Pricing:

  • The Dress Shirt Dress $180
  • The A-Line Pant $120
  • The Cape Hoodie $69
  • The Kimono Robe $50
  • Graphic Muscle Tee $30

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.Triciayanaka.com
  • Phone: 3109625099
  • Email: tt@triciatanaka.com
  • Instagram: Triciatanakaclothing
  • Facebook: Tricia Tanaka Clothing

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