Watch episode 12 of AMERICAN DOERS, a new 12-part video series featuring original thinkers, innovators, craftspeople, risk-takers and artisans across the United States.
Breaking into the fashion design industry is no easy feat. You need money, contacts, passion — oh, and lots and lots of talent to start your own business, which is why Bethany Yellowtail’s journey from living on a cattle ranch on Southeastern Montana to becoming a successful L.A.-based designer is so inspiring.
The latest episode of American Doers, a series featuring remarkable stories of people across the country who’ve achieved their dreams, Yellowtail recounts her difficult journey, which began with her moving to L.A. and living on no money or sleep, and has found her becoming the designer of her own line, B. Yellowtail (which is already attracting a strong celebrity following!).
Creativity is something she says she’s grown up surrounded by her entire life. “Where I’m from, we make things,” she says. “We’re the original designers of this nation. It’s in our people’s DNA.”
But she says she never had role models in pop culture telling her she can make it big and never knew what possibilities were available to her, although her sister always called her “fatally optimistic.”
At 18 she moved to L.A., worked at Starbucks for a year while taking unpaid internships until she landed a job in the industry. And after six years, she decided to break out on her own. “There isn’t a brand in fashion that I truly identify with except for what I do; that’s really why I started B. Yellowtail.”
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With the help of her dad (he put up his farm equipment and cattle for her business loan) she created a company that puts out one very unique, personal dress each month (as opposed to designing a full collection each season) that’s crafted by hand by L.A.-based artisans. “I put so much time and thought into the design that it’s important that the hands that touch it and the people who are putting it together have that same ethos,” Yellowtail says.
Today her company has more than 35,000 Instagram followers, her latest dress design sold out in three days and her looks have been worn by big-name celebrities such as Shailene Woodley.
But she’s already looking toward to the next step in her business: “I used to think my dream was to be in Bloomingdale’s or Saks, but now my dream is to be able to …. manufacture back home. And to be able to employ my people.”
What do you think of Yellowtail’s story? Which styles do you love from B. Yellowtail?