Founder & CEO
Hey I’m YanYi, the founder of Neutral Lining!
I was born in China, but raised in Puerto Rico ( I know..huh?)
My parents immigrated to Puerto Rico when I was a year old and I lived the first 15 years of my life on one of the most beautiful islands in the caribbean. (donde esta el corillo Boricua!?)
Ok, so I’m going to get a little personal with you here on my journey to how NL was born, buckle up!
My whole life growing up I dreamt of being an artist and one of the things I wanted to be when I reached high school was a fashion designer. I really loved the idea of creating something that represents you and that you can share this thing you create with others to enjoy.
But growing up, I had very traditional Asian parents (this was the 90s/early 2000s) so when I told my mom I wanted to be a fashion designer, you know that was a big hard NO.
My career consisted of only three choices: business, medicine or law.
By the time I reached senior year in high school, my mom moved my sisters and I to New York, where I finished out high school and went to a business school in NY.
The next 15 years of my life I spent building my corporate career in the big apple. As I made my way through business school, I held many part time jobs as many college students do to get by and mine just always revolved around retail and fashion - I guess that was my inner child subconsciously whispering to me “hey remember that fashion thing you really loved?...”
I held many retail jobs and positions in the 4ish years of college and as you can imagine, I accumulated an overwhelming amount of clothes from working there. Fashion to me at that stage in my life meant to always be on trend with the latest pieces which meant I was always over consuming the fast fashion world, buying and buying the latest clothes and accessories that would make me look like “that girl”... if you know what I mean.
Heck I even started a YouTube channel that was all about fashion and makeup in college. (that’s a story for a whole other time ;) - oh yeah I am a YouTuber and content creator. Link here if you are interested!
After I graduated from college, I started working a pretty good corporate job in Supply Chain and that was the first time in my young adult life that my job didn't revolve around fashion.
And then in my mid 20’s, I entered my first quarter life crisis. (I know such a millennial first world problems!)
In 2016 I decided to quit my corporate job and pursue my dreams as a content creator, in the journey I also did my first long international travel trip to Europe.
I went on a month long Europe trip and genuinely, that trip changed my life. Not only did I learn so much about the world, other cultures, I also learned so much about myself.
In the trip I just went with one suitcase and for the first time ever, I was rotating the same 7 outfits for 30 days, that was the beginning of my epiphany to less.
When I came back home after a month of traveling, walking into my room and closet filled with all the clothes I accumulated over the years, made me feel heavy; a terrible feeling to come home to after a month of feeling so free and light!
That was the first time I learned the word, decluttering.
And so then started my journey to less, which inevitably led me to understanding so much more about the waste and overconsumption problem we have within our society.
In this journey I also started to work on myself, my mental and emotional health and in that I also learned the real reasons why I was always chasing the latest trends and fashions so I could look “cool” and accepted.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, my parents were really poor, as immigrants in the 90s they had to really fight their way to build their wealth and make ends meet. So with lack of financial resources, I was never able to really enjoy material things in my life as a young child, I would always wear the hamy downs from other family members and play with old toys that also passed down to me.
I remember one time being at the general store Capri in Puerto Rico with my mom, I saw this Barbie I really loved, and I really wanted her because she was the Barbie with the black hair and I felt like she looked so much like me, I hesitantly brought the doll back to my mom, asked if I could get it and she said no, I still feel that inner child hurting from that no until today.
Aside from growing up with lack, I was also bullied alot for being Asian. It was just not very common to see an Asian family living on a tropical latin island.
I did not know this, but the lack in my childhood, muddled with my bullying scars, subconsciously created a need in myself to over consume fashion so that I could fit in.
Fast forward to my late 20s, I’ve become a very minimal consumer and in learning about all the waste and toxic practices from the huge fashion corporations, made me really sick to my stomach, sick that they did the nasty things they did, but also sick to myself that I was such an over consumer of it!
So in 2018 I finally decided to dig up that old dream of mine to start a clothing line, I start visualizing, conceptualizing and drafting what is now Neutral Lining, and thanks to the pandemic, in 2020 I finally decided to take the chance and do it.
Then synchronistically, I reconnected with my old childhood best friend Jennifer a few years before NL was born, her having design knowledge as she studied fashion, I decided to bring her into the team, Jenny is now my co-partner and my Director of Operations & Design.
I wanted NL to be what I would want in a brand, responsible, empathetic to the consumer and ethical to the environment and the people who produce the products.
I always found myself reaching for the simplest, most comfortable garments in my closet all the time, so that is the foundation of NL.
Simple, stylish designs made from sustainable materials, in an ethical environment.
Versatile for your lifestyle.
Never fast fashion.
I hope you come with me in this amazing journey for Neutral Lining, I’ve built this brand with so much love, humility and dedication for the gal that just wants to feel amazing in what she wears and that the clothes she is wearing stands for something good.
With much love <3