As teens twins Eva and Yvette Estime loved watching anime and flipping through Japanese street fashion magazines—interests that would influence their future careers. Fast-forward to 2020, when the sisters founded Dirty Celebrity, an indie fashion brand. “Our accessories line takes inspiration from Japanese streetwear, American punk and pop culture—all created with a focus on sustainability,” said Yvette. In case you were wondering, Dirty Celebrity is slang for wearing an outfit that mixes designer and fast fashion pieces.
With a laser focus on building a zero-waste brand, the sisters won the 2023 CFDA x Accessories Council Launchpad Fellowship for sustainable accessories. Here, Yvette talks about co-founding a brand of “punked-up street fashion style,” neurodiversity and being an introvert in business.
Artisan Joy: How did you get started?
Yvette Estime: I was a born artist. I remember getting my work in the children’s museum when I was five years old, but as I got older, I became more interested in creating 3D than 2D art. I started sewing, but I really wanted my jewelry to have a 3D vibe as well. That is when I saw a 3D printer and decided to take adult learning classes at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) to learn to create in a 3D plane. 3D printing is my latest obsession.
AJ: At what point did you realize that you could start a business?
YE: During the pandemic, so many people started their own businesses, and I thought I could do this as well! So, I launched my accessories line in December 2020, and now I won a CFDA grant along with my twin sister.
AJ: How do you define success for your creative business?
YE: When you do not focus on trends but somehow still have people loving and supporting you—that to me is success!
AJ: Where do you find inspiration?
YE: Pop culture and Japanese streetwear are my main inspirations. I love the use of color in J-fashion and the cultural influence of pop culture.
AJ: What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started your creative business?
YE: As an introvert, most business advice is tailored to extroverts—do speeches, hold events and show your face on social media. All the gurus tell you to cookie-cut your representation of your company. The reality is that what works for them may not work for you. You have to create your own framework for success.
AJ: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin selling their art or creative product?
YE: Find your target audience, and do not be ashamed to talk about your art. Remember that not everyone knows what you do!
AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
YE: I am neurodivergent and have a hard time with time management, hyper-fixation and social skills. These differences have led me to create my own path to success.
AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our products. How do you handle perfectionism?
YE: I don’t because imperfection, to me, is more beautiful. I like when things are off-center, shredded, uneven or mixed up. I think it gives it character.
AJ: What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?
YE: I wish it was just about being creative, but there is so much to running a business no one talks about! Taxes, advertising, marketing, branding and designing all go into it.
AJ: What advice would you give to someone about handling the highs and lows that come with running a business?
YE: Use the highs as a catalyst for the lows. We tend to forget the highs when we are at our lowest. Remember when you were at your highest and know you can get there again.
AJ: Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?
YE: Yes. I get the ‘I can find that’ comments, but they just lead me to look for unique components and try new materials and techniques. I take it as sound advice to diversify my offerings.
AJ: What’s a cause you are passionate about and why?
YE: Sustainability has always been a passion of mine, and so I launched a plant a tree with every sale partnership with Ecologi. You can learn more at ecologi.com.
AJ: Can you share the name of a supplier or vendor that you use for your business that you just love—one that makes running a business a bit easier?
YE: No Issue has been a great supplier in my sustainable packaging journey with sustainable custom print tissue paper. Better Packaging is a women-led business located in Australia that creates my sustainable drawstring bags for my larger jewelry and sunglasses.
AJ: And, of course, we have to ask you this: what brings you joy?
YE: Creating. Somehow bringing a thought from my mind into something physical always puts a smile on my face.
Thanks, Yvette. You can learn more about Dirty Celebrity at www.shopdirtyceleb.com.
This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.