Meet the two young women changing the meaning of ‘lifestyle brand’ with their stylish company, Yolke
‘There are some lovely lifestyle brands around but they’re not quite our aesthetic,’ says Anna Williamson, who along with her friend and business partner Ella Ringner launched Yolke in 2013 – a sophisticated online lifestyle boutique, that is already creating a stir with its fresh take on fashion and home-wares. The women, 28 and 27, met when they worked at Temperley six years ago and have been immersed in fashion since their teens. Anna forged a path in fashion PR for the likes of Donna Karan and Cavalli, as well as Temperley, following a foundation course in photography at London College of Fashion and Ella graduated in textile design from Central St Martins.
Anna subsequently re-trained in interior design; working for Hugh Leslie Design in South Kensington, but it was when the two women put down roots and started shopping for their own homes – in Westbourne Park and Kensal Rise – that they realised they wanted something with a little more attitude than what was on offer. ‘I’m constantly changing rooms around: as soon as the weather changes, it’s such a nice thing to do to freshen a room,’ says Ella. ‘We both love Missoni but that’s super high end and we were both searching for something that was young and elegant but a little edgy.’ It was then that the talented duo hit on the idea for their own lifestyle brand – and within the year had combined their different skills and know-how to bring Yolke from concept to fruition.
The girls began Yolke with a sharp capsule collection, consisting of classic yet easy and fuss-free separates: silk shirts and tops in zingy shades or chic neutrals, which can easily be teamed with the chic straight-leg silk trousers and cutesy French cotton shorts on offer. There’s also stylish nightwear and a tempting selection of day to evening jumpsuits. ‘Our clothes are well-made but they’re not precious,’ says Ella. ‘I was digging the flower-beds wearing my jumpsuit the other day, but then switched to heels and went out in it for cocktails later.’
On the home-ware front, so far we can expect statement stripes and jacquard weaves in the form of luxe silk and linen cushions with punchy acid yellow or smart black trims and super-soft lambs wool throws. ‘Our aim is to create a range that is fashion led and reflects the colours of the season, but that can be added to,’ explains Anna. ‘We’re working on some lovely quilts for next season and ultimately, we would like to add bed linen, ceramics, notebooks and more.’
The look might be simple and carefree, but everything has been thought through thoroughly and it is the attention to detail that provides its easy elegance. ‘We spend a lot of time thinking about buttons, zips, pockets and ruches and which colour or where they should be placed,’ says Ella.
As a textile designer, specialising in weaves, Ella focuses on the creative side and is passionate about prints, shapes, colourways – but with Anna’s background in interiors the two bounce ideas around. ‘Anna has an amazing eye and she can immediately see what works in an interior,’ says Ella, who is currently putting the final touches to a new range of prints for next season.
There is a strong emphasis on quality too and for this reason all of their pieces are designed and made in the UK. The duo have their silk fabrics produced in Suffolk, from a mill that has been based there for over 250 years and whose originators are descended from French Huguenots – renowned for their silk-weaving techniques. It’s the same story for the cottons, linens and wools. ‘We’re a start up company so we wanted to support other local industries, especially those with a strong heritage in what they do,’ explains Anna. ‘They are keen to support us too so we can discuss ideas and experiment with small fabric runs, which wouldn’t be possible if we were dealing with large overseas manufacturers.
Those tempted to dip in can expect their chosen pieces to arrive the next day beautifully wrapped in Yolke’s signature print paper. Anna and Ella will even offer same-day delivery to those who live locally and can’t wait until the morning. ‘Sometimes you see something and want to wear it that evening, or to try a cushion in your home so we’re happy to drop things off to local customers,’ says Ella. And if you want to try Yolke on for size, you can find them newly stocked at Kensal Rise fashion boutique, Lark London.
Although, they’re a young fresh brand, designing the clothes and home-wares that they like, Yolke is not age-specific and the two women canvas opinion on their designs amongst their mothers and their parent’s friends, as well as their own. ‘My mum and I might like the same shirt but we usually choose different colours,’ says Anna. ‘Our clothes are for busy fashion conscious women who want to throw something on and feel comfortable and look elegant at the same time.’