Femininity, equality, sustainability. A conversation with Joanna Socha-Karaś and Dorota Lange-Socha – co-owners of YOU.
YOU. is a brand that produces comfortable women’s clothes, made in Poland from high-quality materials. The company focuses on local production, ensuring quality of workmanship and sustainable development. YOU. offers a wide selection of clothes that combines comfort and fashionable design. The goal of the brand is not only to develop and dress Polish women, but also to support women in their fight for equal rights.
The beginnings of the YOU. brand date back to 2019. Where did the idea for such a project come from and what was the path to its implementation?
The idea of creating YOU. was a bit of a coincidence. On June 1st, 2019, on Children’s Day, my friends and I decided during a casual conversation that working in a corporation while having small children is not what we want. We have also agreed on finally realizing our dream of owning a small, women’s business that has been dormant in us for years. We exchanged several ideas, but in the end the clothing brand won. Ola (my then partner and the original co-founder of the brand) and I got down to work and YOU. was created within a few months. Initially, the project’s business model was different than today. The clothes were not produced by us, but ordered from reliable producers. However, this model did not work out. It didn’t allow us to get involved enough and commit ourselves to the project. At the very end of 2020, we decided to either end YOU. or to start our own production. Today, to my joy, option number two won. It was a great challenge and an adventure for us at the same time. Clothing production in Poland is not only expensive, but also very time-consuming and complicated. It could take up to 8 months from the idea stage to the finished garment on the shelf. Although currently in a different lineup, as Ola left YOU. in 2022 and my mother Dorota took her place, the brand is developing on the Polish market.
What do you think YOU. represents as a brand? What mission does it set for itself and what ideas does it promote?
From the very beginning, the brand has been a feminine brand that implements its assumptions in a multi-dimensional way. Through femininity in YOU. we understand not only creating clothing designs dedicated to women (although if men want, they can also wear our clothes ;)), but also promoting broadly understood pro-women ideas. YOU. is guided by the mission of supporting real actions aimed at equal treatment of women and men. We live in a world where equality is often an obvious value only in theory. We want this to become common practice and the norm. We never wanted YOU. to be just a clothing brand. YOU. is about more than just quality and an interesting form. Given this opportunity, we want, together with our clients, to strive to change the world for the better – to make it a safe and friendly place for everyone. To this end, we talk, educate, participate in events and support pro-women’s organizations.
The main aspect of YOU.’s mission is broadly understood equality. Sustainable development also fits into this trend. What practices do you use to care for the environment?
Sustainable development has been a necessary and important element for us from the first days of the brand’s existence. In recent years, the clothing business has been recognized as one of the biggest polluters of the Earth. There’s no denying it. Therefore, in order to show that the production of clothes does not necessarily have to mean the destruction of our planet, we have imposed a number of standards and guidelines in the company to minimize this. First of all, we decided to give up single-use plastic and use reusable plastic only where it is absolutely necessary. We cooperate with couriers who have implemented solutions that favour the environment and reduce exhaust emissions. We also took a closer look at the production process and, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of each of our clothes, we sew them locally in family-run sewing workshops and create them from natural materials, checking their origin and production process. Importantly, our clothes are subject to quality tests. Thanks to this, we guarantee that they will last for years and it will not be necessary to buy new ones soon. In order to minimize the amount of post-production waste, we sew accessories from the leftovers, which are then added to our clients’ packages for free.
Many fashion brands are now moving almost exclusively to online environment. Does YOU. focus more on online or offline sales?
From the very beginning of YOU. is primarily an online store. We operate online and we do not intend to change that. However, some things had changed on the shopping market since 2019. The online shopping craze during and after the pandemic is over. Customers returned to stationary shopping. The development of offline sales is in our plans and we are very excited about the vision of having our own flagship boutique.
How do you imagine the future of YOU.? Are you planning expansion into foreign markets, expanding the product catalogue or other activities?
Because the brand has undergone many internal changes and also in terms of the business model itself, we are at the stage of stabilization. As a brand development plan, we have all the aforementioned elements scheduled. We plan to consistently expand our product catalogue, both within existing categories and by adding new ones. At some point, there was also the idea of clothes and accessories for men and children, which, although still a long way from being implemented, is still valid. In addition to the assortment, we are now focusing on expanding the network of stationary sales points in Poland and, in the next stage, also in other countries.
Is there a person or company that particularly inspired you to create your own fashion brand? What would you tell people who are currently considering such a step?
Referring to what I said at the very beginning of our conversation, having my own women’s company has been my dream for years. Its crystallization into a clothing brand was a process. I used to think about candles, cosmetic bags and jewellery and more. Clothes, however, turned out to be the direction that allowed me to express myself the most and find fulfilment in it. I am a lawyer by education and trade, but the work there is completely different. YOU. gave me the chance to express myself a little more creatively and artistically. However, there is no specific person or company that would be a role model on which I created YOU. I guess that would be my advice to people thinking about a similar venture. The most important thing is to act in harmony with yourself and your own conditions and beliefs. Suggestion or inspiration from third parties can sometimes prevent this.
Joanna Socha-Karaś, co-founder and co-owner of YOU.
As part of YOU. she deals with brand image, marketing and sales development. An inventive and creative person and a veritable volcano of energy. Apart from YOU. she finds fulfilment in her work as a lawyer, and enjoys her life as a wife and a mother of three great boys – Alex, Max and Ben.
Dorota Lange-Socha, co-owner of YOU.
Specializes in broadly understood production. The creation of clothes that the brand’s customers can happily wear lies in her hands. Creating clothes is a complicated process which remains under her constant supervision, from start to finish. Except for YOU. she fulfils herself in her role as a grandmother, wife and owner of two wonderful cats.
Last Updated on December 18, 2023 by Anastazja Lach