There’s a reason why Moo-Young’s design aesthetic pairs so well with today’s eco-conscious shopper. Having just immigrated from Jamaica to the US when she was five years old, Francine’s restless spirit dealt with culture shock a bit differently than most kids. She discovered the art of repurposing scraps of fabric from her grandmother and great aunts into tapestry clothing for her dolls. During this period, she discovered her passion for the materials themselves.
But her childhood pastimes were left behind as she grew up. After college, Francine discovered that the corporate world’s vision of adulthood didn’t work for her. It made her miserable; and after 9/11, her views changed about how she wanted to spend her life.
She decided to follow her heart, and work toward becoming an artisan, and a designer. After a year at LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), she landed positions with several Southern California clothing companies, including Roxy, Guess, Velvet, Tadashi, and Raquel Allegra. But as she grew tired of the Los Angeles traffic, she decided to move to Seattle, where she ditched the cutthroat fashion world to start her own business. When starting out, she tried several ideas - but as fate would have it, she landed on leather. Thanks to Ventures, an entrepreneurial startup program, and the Artist Trust program, she was able to hone her talents through trial projects.
Her final project led her to create what's now Moo-Young’s signature accessory - Skinny Bangles.
Crafted as a set of seven delicate leather bangles, each set of Skinny Bangles is accented with gold- or silver-plated brass beads, creating a dramatic contrast with the soft leather.
The seed money from selling Skinny Bangles allowed Francine to buy leather scraps and experiment with them. Soon, she moved on to buying larger leather remnants from eco-friendly tanneries, specialized trade shows, and big design houses. A self-described “leather hoarder,” Francine collects and repurposes unique leather remnants to create a dazzling array of zero-waste/sustainable clothing, fashion accessories, and home decor.
The story begins when the suede arrives. The first task is to dye it a full day’s work. Using the basics of an ancient shibori technique, Moo-Young transforms the plain suede into pinwheeling radials, cracked-ice patterns, and sunflower silhouettes. Every once in a while, she keeps a dyed hide remain a completed piece, and rig it into a wall hanging. Most often, the first destination for the freshly dyed leather is as clothing—mainly signature wraps, kimonos and kaftans. But the leather’s journey doesn’t end there—the remnants become earrings, handbags, and home goods like poufs and pillows.
Moo-Young has become one of the foremost up-and-coming influencers on the Seattle fashion scene. From Shibori-dyed leather handbags to leather kimonos, pearl-and-leather necklaces and tie-dyed unisex sneakers, Francine’s hand-produced accessories are sustainable and chic.
Her business is definitely on the rise. Moo-Young, her “baby,” has become one of the foremost up-and-coming influencers on the Seattle fashion scene.
From Shibori tie-dyed leather handbags to kimonos and everything in between, Francine eschews mass-produced fashion to provide sustainable pieces that look amazing with zero guilt. If that’s your thing, you’ll LoveMoo, too. Come back often!