Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.
My Name is Jeff Yokoyama, my nickname is Yoki. Yoki in Japanese means “Good.” I was born in a small town near downtown Los Angeles called Glendale in 1955. I grew up loving football and surfing. After graduating from Glendale High School, I moved to Hawaii to find warm water.
I surfed and sailed every day and worked in restaurants. About 3 years later I moved back to the mainland to study cosmetology and hair. After a year of school, I passed my test and moved to Newport Beach, California and started to work at a salon in Fashion Island. I was making $89 a week as an assistant to the styling director. Now only 23 years old, I was moved up to a stylist and started making close to $2,500 a week. That’s when I started my first clothing line called Maui and Sons in 1980, I was 24 years old.
I love your shop in Newport. How did the concept come about and when did you first set up shop?
I started Yokishop about 10 years ago when I noticed that there was a change in the way I wanted to design, make, and sell product. I started to design from things that were being thrown away, I also wanted to make all product domestically here in USA.
Tell us about your partnerships with USC and UCLA.
My daughter played volleyball for the University of Oregon, that is when I noticed that they were discarding tons of used and game worn uniforms. I thought if I could get some of those uniforms I could make cool stuff and sell it back to the kids on campus. I make all sorts of things from the discarded uniforms; tailgate aprons, duffle bags, hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts. It’s a very rewarding project in that we have used over 2,000 USC articles of gear that was once destined for a landfill. The only challenge is that we are not able to keep up with the demand.
It sounds like the fashion industry as a whole has a big problem with waste. What do you think these companies should be doing differently?