Emily Jaime is the Creative and Designer at YIREH. With the humble beginnings of a small jewelry company, YIREH started over a trip to Indonesia where Emily met a young girl named Sumi who had a dream of finishing school. When Emily asked if she knew how to make anything, the girl brought out dozens of beaded shell necklaces, and Emily then asked Sumi to make 100 shell necklaces in exchange for payment of one years tuition of schooling. From then, the brand has now grown to stand as a socially conscious and ethically made fashion and home decor brand. Having traveled to over 20 countries, her heart for the beauty of travel and philanthropy has grounded the beginnings of YIREH.
What were you doing before YIREH? What did the journey look like to get you where you are now?
When I was 16 I applied for fashion school in LA and got an early acceptance. I thought for sure I would go the traditional route of school and then fancy career. However, once I graduated from high school I realized how much college tuition was and decided I wanted to take a few years off to travel and figure out what I was really passionate about. I traveled a lot and was also a live in nanny for three boys, so I had a flexible schedule. I began making and selling jewelry to support my travels and humanitarian efforts and eventually moved to Indonesia to learn more about the culture, met a family I wanted to support that were seamstress by trade, and began my journey with YIREH.
How did you decide on social entrepreneurship as a way of creating impact?
I have always been passionate about social justice and empowering and encouraging people. Most of my travels have been focused around this subject. So in order for me to give my all into something it had to have a purpose behind it that was meaningful to me. I’ve always loved creating and telling visual stories, so marrying my love for design, business, and social justice just seemed to fit.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
I love making memories in my clothes. I keep things FOREVER, because of the memories I’ve made in them. I still have a few pieces from my high school days that I love dearly. That being said I am pretty careful with what I buy and who I support because I cherish my clothes for long periods of time. I love designing and creating new things, but I also love pairing those special pieces with second hand finds. Thrifting is one of my favorite past times because it reminds me of market shopping in other countries and finding hidden treasures that only I will have.
YIREH’s collections are heavily inspired by the beauty of travel. Of all the places you visited so far, which has been the most memorable? Do you have a favourite travel story to share?
My husband and I got married in 2016. We had planned spending two months split between Turkey and Italy. However, after getting so much grief from our parents about traveling to Turkey in the middle of a civil war, we decided to cancel the Turkey portion and instead go all out and travel to 8 different countries. A few weeks before we left I kept meeting people who had either just gotten back from traveling through Turkey, or were just about to go to Turkey, and all I was hearing was how amazing the country was. So, my husband and I decided not to tell anyone and added Turkey to our itinerary, and I am SO happy we did. It was the most magical country I’ve ever been to. We explored the travertines of Pamukkale, the fairy chimneys and underground cities of Cappadocia, and flew over ancient churches in hot air balloons. The topography was unlike anything I had ever seen and I am so happy I didn’t let other peoples fears stop us from seeing it all.
What’s on your travel bucket list?
Oh my goodness, the entire world! Right now I really want to explore Peru, the Maldives, and Tahiti above all else!
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Sustainable fashion to me, from a consumers standpoint, is investing in quality pieces over quantity, thinking about and researching before you buy, and reusing your clothing for as long as you can. From a designers standpoint it is doing everything in our power to produce less waste, making sure the suppliers and factories we work with are fair and safe, and being transparent about where we are at with our manufacturing practices. We don’t have to be completely perfect, but at least always striving to grow and be the best that we can!
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You are doing better than you think. I can easily get so down on myself or begin to compare myself or my business to others, and it never does any good. During one of my harder moments a friend told me that I was doing better than I thought and now when I’m down I try to always remember that. We are so hard on ourselves, often a lot harder than anyone else.
Choosing not to accept the status quo and fighting for those who don’t have a voice.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in, and why?
I believe all people were created equal and that no human should be enslaved in any way shape or form. Being in the fashion industry you hear so many horror stories about women and men getting taken advantage of in so many different ways (sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically) and I am not ok with that. Its important that YIREH is always a safe, uplifting and encouraging environment. I often use the phrase humanity over profits and I will stand by that forever. People come first, always.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who lived every ounce of her life and encouraged others to do the same.
We are inspired by Emily’s intention to uphold humanity over profits are proud to have her as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Emily is wearing the Classic Wideleg + Leharia Champagne in Size 1.