introduce yourself! where are you from? where do you live now? what’s your favorite food?
Hi! My name is Emily Brewer-Yarnall, and I’m the designer of a knitwear line called été noir. I lived on the east coast, the west coast, the south and the southwest while I was growing up, and now I live in beautiful Hudson, NY, an historic town right off the Hudson River in upstate New York. On healthier days my favorite food is brussel sprouts, but if I’m being honest most of the time it’s cheese.
when you were little, what did you want to be when you grow up?
I think probably a writer--I was a voracious bookworm and I got so much pleasure from books that I wanted to create them. My family lived for four years in Portland, Oregon, and there was an old cherry tree in the yard with a perfectly placed bough that I used to sit in and read for hours.
when did you first develop an interest in fashion?
My mother swears I went through a period from age 2-5 where I would only wear black, but I probably first began to be interested in clothes in high school, when I also started studying photography. I went to French schools until high school, with students of expat families from all over the world, and in retrospect I think I was in a little bit of culture shock! Fashion was a way of equalizing that and reclaiming my identity in a sense.
what made you pursue fashion in an ethically responsible manner?
I would say that ethical fashion is strongly generational--people around my age grew up in what felt like an unstable time and embraced idealism as a result. When I started my business, it wasn’t even a question--it was absolutely the only way I could imagine. I think many other business owners felt the same. And I think it’s smart! I think people will do better work if they’re treated better, and I think a better business model can be built on quality. I’ve worked for places where I felt valued and places where I didn’t, and I worked so much harder at the former.
what’s your go-to weekday outfit or current style obsession?
Either my knits or overalls--I have an absolute obsession with overalls. I probably have ten pairs in various shapes and colors. They are so comfortable and so useful, they have pockets for everything, and if you find the right cut for your shape they can be very flattering. I finally convinced my sister to get a pair of overalls about a year ago, and she swears they have changed her life. I’ve also loved southwestern style and architecture since I was a kid and my family would take road trips through Texas, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. It’s so spare and so romantic. That’s absolutely what I aspire to--romantic spareness.
what’s your favorite part of your job?
Definitely the truly wonderful women I get to work with and around! It’s funny, because I mostly work alone, but I feel so lucky to know retailers like Lacey and other designers I’ve met through market and the women I work with in Peru--people who live all over the country and the world and who I would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet.
on the flip side, what is the hardest part about running a business?
Sometimes it can be overwhelming, and feel like a lot of work for small rewards. But at the end of the day, deciding what you want to do and being able to do it and support yourself is absolutely the greatest luxury I can imagine.
if you could have one thing that you say here stay with others, what would it be? any sage advice, life lessons, or wise words?
I guess mostly that I make so many mistakes. An incomparable amount. And sometimes I make a mistake and learn from it, and sometimes it takes a silly number of times before I learn. I think we’re focused always on presenting a really perfect exterior, and for me reading or seeing those things I sometimes feel bad about how many mistakes I make. But it takes so much courage to do a small creative thing, and courage just to be a human in this world. I think we like to focus on what is going wrong, and so we should because otherwise those things won’t get fixed. But I think also we should be a little kinder to ourselves, and that will help us be kinder to everyone.