Junim (juh-nim): my love, my heart, my soul. It’s a Turkish word most known for its use as a term of endearment. It is also the name of the LA fashion line created, run, and designed by Haley Solar… and it couldn’t be more appropriate. Haley, a true artist if I’ve ever met one, took a leap of faith a few years ago to start her own business. She left a steady job in retail management to pursue her lifelong love of designing clothes that women felt beautiful in. Not only is she passionate about the things she makes, she is devoted to how she makes them.
This is where Haley’s talent blows me away. She started sewing at a very young age and immersed herself in each fashion opportunity that came her way. She designed and sewed every Halloween costume she (and her friends) ever wore and even finagled her way into designing and sewing each piece for all of her high school plays.
Now, years later, Haley is that same driven and creative go-getter. She sources all of her fabrics from Los Angeles and hand cuts, sews, and dyes each piece to order in-house. Literally, in her house. She has had multiple design studios around LA and has a ton of experience with the sewing factories in downtown LA, but prefers the close-knit, familial feel of doing everything out of her Highland Park home. She has a team of four design students and makes sure they receive quality hands-on experience and teachings. Each piece that is ordered via the Junim website is touched by Haley before it packaged up and sent out, making Junim a true artisan fashion house. She puts her love, her heart, her soul, her junim, into her brand. Keep reading to learn more about this gifted and original soul:
Where are you from originally? Do you think it has shaped who you are today?
I grew up in Orange County, CA but spent my summers in Chicago with my dad. The older I get the more I appreciate having that time away from my school friends each year. I think leaving your comfort zone can be the best way to find out who you are, and who you want to be.
When did you first get involved in fashion design?
When I was 7. That’s when I garnered full access to my mom’s Singer. It was over after that. “Homework? Once sec… after I master this french seam…”
How did Junim begin?
Some crazy idea I had with my friend… we were going to make accessories out of vintage finds and start selling at craft fairs on the weekends. As we were developing the idea, I just kept adding apparel and removing the accessories. JUNIM started evolving into a dress line and my business partner lost interest. When I was ready to quit my job I had $1000 in the bank. I used it all to pay for my collection and space at a trade show. I just closed my eyes, said a little prayer and a few stores picked up the line!
The 1st year was rough… I wouldn’t have survived without my friends and family. Every day I try to pay that forward with the young designers who work for me.
What is the inspiration behind Junim?
Your entire collections are locally sourced and manufactured — what does that mean exactly?
So local that I sleep 20 feet from my sewing machines! Our fabrics are all found in downtown LA. I buy up big bolts from mills and other designers and use them all until they’re gone.
Your hand-dyed silk dresses are beautiful and have been recognized by national fashion magazines. Can you give us a peek into the process?
Thank you! We have a team of four, one fine art student and three fashion design majors in our studio. We cut our silk by hand, sew on our in-house machines, dye each piece to order, line dry, press, tag and ship. The process takes between 2-5 days. The most difficult is when a piece is ready to go out but doesn’t pass my inspection. Usually it’s because the dye isn’t right. It has to blow my mind. That’s the rule of thumb, if anything looks “ok,” it goes back. There are so many variables contributing to the dying process – it’s a challenge with every dress and that’s what makes me love it so much.
Your favorite time of day is…
Morning. When I go to bed at night I sleep on all the emails, orders, deadlines, packages… when I wake up in the morning nothing seems too big to confront. Morning is like a reset button. I have my coffee and dive in.
What is playing on your record player right now?
Uhhh…full disclosure? A mix called “The elegant 80’s”.
Typically it’s turning a lot of folk and soul. When I’m working I play music LOUD. I love setting the tone with Dylan or Van Morrison and then making the whole crew start dancing with Curtis Mayfield, or Prince.
Do you have any fashion muses?
I try not to pay too much attention to what models and actresses are doing. I’m really inspired by what people around me are wearing. I design for women who are living life… Junim is low maintenance, but never, ever basic. I don’t make ANYTHING in black. It is not about hiding her figure in dark colors, or her personality with a bunch of bells and whistles. It’s about dressing purposeful and minimal. It’s a canvas for her to adorn (or not).
Where do you personally find inspiration?
I can trace every piece of clothing in my collection back to a silhouette I found while thrifting with my sister. She’s the only person on the planet I can thrift with because she has more stamina then I do. We’ve been known to spend five hours in a Santa Ana goodwill, no stone unturned. We are such pros, that people follow us around the store drafting off our finds!
As owner and operator of your company, do you find it challenging to be half business-half creative?
YES! Harnessing creativity is like catching a cat, it needs to be coaxed, it has its own schedule and could care less about what’s on your to-do list.
What advice would you give an aspiring fashion designer?
Work every aspect of the business! Retail, wholesale, design, production… you’ll understand the whole industry in such a way that you’ll be able to bring fresh ideas to the table that someone who’s never worked with customers, or a factory couldn’t.
What is next for Junim?
We are opening a pop up shop June 12th in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Our online store has built such an amazing following, I cannot wait to meet some of our customers in person. It’s a rare occasion that they get to try pieces on, feel the fabrics and scout items that aren’t available in the retail stores we sell to.
Being free means…
Knowing just how powerful you are. Despite what anyone else may say.
Thank you for letting us take a peek inside Junim, Haley!
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