The inspirational journal of rising NYC jewelry designer, entrepreneur, violinist, and pastry chef, Yumi Chen.

NYC Jewelry Designer, Violinist, Pastry Chef, Small Business Owner, Free-Spirit, Positive Thinker!

As seen in: New York Magazine, NBC's Sunday Today in NY, ABC's Eyewitness News, WB11 Morning News, STAR Magazine, Life & Style Magazine, NY Post Newspaper, amNY Newspaper, Boston Globe,,,,, and more!Read More

Posts Tagged ‘clothing’

Profiles of Hope: Raoul is Redefining the T-Shirt

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009


It was New Year’s Eve, about six years ago. I wanted to just wear a casual shirt out, but I couldn’t find anything. So, I decided to make a prototype and use one of the images from my photography. I got a lot of comments on the shirt, so I began thinking about starting a clothing line using art from photographers.

I went to photography school in Toronto, and graduated thinking that I would work as a photo editor for a newspaper or a magazine. I wasn’t interested in becoming a commercial or fine art photographer, but I wanted to showcase my photography somehow. So when the idea came to me to create, basically, a gallery on t-shirts, I jumped in and started this company, Vernakular, and recruited other photographers to submit designs.

The style of photography that I do, that I’m most attracted to and that I use in my apparel, is actually called “vernacular”, meaning everyday shots, things that are almost accidentally artistic. So, I called the company Vernakular, with a “k” because ‘’ was already taken. But, being that I’m a creative and slightly twisted guy, I like the way that the “k” gives it an edge, a more urban spin.

The hardest part about business now is to keep growing and getting the word out, but also to keep growing and developing artistically. You have to constantly update your product; you don’t want to ever look stale. But at the same time, not everything can go on a t-shirt. I try not to let commerce dictate the content, but sometimes you need to, as a business person. Finding that balance between art and business gives me focus, which I think I need. Sometimes having too many options is an impediment.

I run into people once in a while, wearing my product. I get embarrassed when I see it. Maybe it’s weird, but I would never say anything. But I can’t stop looking.

* photo credit: *