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, 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.
It quickly turned into an *obsession*. Francine didn't only fall in love with the techniques of stitching pieces of diverse fabric into a wearable tapestry. She also discovered her passion for the materials themselves — whether they were her sisters’ repurposed dresses or scraps of fabric her grandmother and great-aunts saved for her.
Back then, she put her budding talent into creating doll clothes. But then, adulthood happened. Expectations. Even after a multi-degree stint in academia, Francine discovered that the corporate world’s vision of adulthood didn’t work for her.
It made her miserable. So did the fragmented, frightening world she found herself in after 9/11.
In her own words, “I thought, ‘What would I want to do if it were my last days?’”
The answer? Of course, to become a designer and artisan. One who could sew together all those fragments into a striking garment or accessory that wouldn’t just adorn the runway but would feel just as home at the office or in the club.
So, she enrolled in LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) to reboot her considerable sewing skills. After a year of study, she landed a position with several Southern California clothing companies, including Roxy, Guess, Velvet, Tadashi, and Raquel Allegra.
Tired of the LA traffic, she moved to her first love, Seattle. After getting the short shrift by an unscrupulous employer, she ditched the “devil wears Prada” moments to start her own business.
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 her signature accessory — Skinny Bangles.
Crafted from leather cut and glued into a set of seven delicate bangles, these bracelets feature gold- or silver-plated brass beads, contrasting with the soft look of the leather. They’re still her top seller.
The seed money these striking pieces provided allowed Francine to buy leather scraps and experiment with them. Soon, she moved on to buying leather remnants from tanneries, trade shows, and the big design houses. A self-described “hoarder,” Francine collects and repurposes unique leather remnants to create a dazzling array of clothing, fashion accessories, and home decor.
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!