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Yang Qu in front of her designs

We love Localwise success stories. This Saturday one of those came to life in the form of the Yang Qu for Viscera collection launch.

From 3-5 PM, the Oakland boutique was buzzing with excitement as Qu, a 21-year-old intern for the store, watched people touch, wear, and enjoy the pieces that she had spent many sleepless nights sewing.

Viscera was started by Ari Takata-Vasquez in December of 2014 as a passion project based on the principle of carrying American-made, primarily grayscale pieces. The Yang Qu collection is a new addition to the well-curated mix of clothing that Takata-Vasquez carries at her store.

What comes as a surprise to many, however, is that Yang Qu is actually an intern at Viscera who found the job through Localwise's internship page

Qu had been designing and sewing collections during her involvement with FAST, the Fashion and Student Trends club at UC Berkeley, for a few semesters. However, at the ripe age of 21, she is now launching her first ready-to-wear collection, available for purchase at Viscera.

Why Viscera?

Qu says that she was drawn to the job opportunity at Viscera because she identified with the store’s aesthetic and design mission. 

“I felt a connection to the store based on inventory,” she says. “This is the store that I would want to have if I opened a store.”

And likewise, Ari felt a connection to Yang as well after seeing her application. “She was the only candidate that brought a fashion portfolio,” says the young store owner, “and the way that she spoke about fashion was so passionate that I hired her on the spot.”

Yang Qu at Viscera in Downtown Oakland The collection’s lookbook on display at Viscera

The concept of being involved in the local community is also very important to both of them. “I think it really rejuvenates the community,” says Qu. Takata-Vasquez echos the sentiment. “I like hiring people from the community because they personally have a stake in seeing their community grow.”

Before designing her collection, Qu helped with the Viscera blog, covering street style and local happenings. She also designed the window displays at the store. However, it wasn’t until she invited her boss to the FAST fashion show at UC Berkeley that the idea for the collection came to light.

“We were blown away by her collection,” says Takata-Vasquez. “It was very mature, especially since she doesn’t have a design background.” From there, Yang’s internship was taken in a different direction to help get the collection off the ground.

“It was kind of surreal — when she first told me she wanted to do the collection, my heart stopped,” says Qu.

Yang Qu Phantasma Dress

The collection is about the concept of change and evolution and is inspired by the moth. “Moths are often overlooked because butterflies are much more popular,” says Qu. After going through a rough semester, she designed the collection as an “opportunity for rebirth.” 

The moth theme extends into the pieces’ names as well. The Chrysalis wool coat and the Pupae skirt and crop top are possibly the bes examples of this. The pieces, which are all either black or white, are whimsical while still being refined and chic.

When it comes to the future, Yang says that she definitely wants to expand her brand. While not in the best place to do it full time yet, she says that she could see it happening ten years into the future. “I’m still deciding and learning.” 

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