The independent designer proved sometimes risks do pay off, as she's now a preferred fashion brand amongst celebrities like Shailene Woodley

By Emily Kirkpatrick
March 27, 2017 09:00 AM
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Watch episode 12 of AMERICAN DOERS, a new 12-part video series featuring original thinkers, innovators, craftspeople, risk-takers and artisans across the United States.

As anyone who’s attempted to make their name in the fashion industry can tell you, breaking into the business is no easy feat. And even if you do manage to make a decent living off of your creations, becoming a designer that actually manages to get their clothes onto the backs of some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood is an even greater challenge. The designer behind B. Yellowtail, Bethany Yellowtail, however, has managed to do just that and make it look easy. But don’t let the fact that her clothes now grace the likes of Shailene Woodley deceive you, because behind those vibrant dresses and accessories is years and years of dedication and handwork, which is exactly what makes her a quintessential “American Doer.”

At 18, Yellowtail made the tough transition from her Montana hometown to Los Angeles, hustling to make ends meet, working at Starbucks while taking one unpaid internships after the next until she finally landed a job in the industry. Six years later, the designer finally felt ready to take a major leap of faith, and launch her own line with the help of her father who sold his farm equipment and cattle to help fund her small business loan.

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And now that she’s finally reached a comfortable level of accomplishment, Yellowtail began looking for ways that she could give back to her community, saying, “that’s just something that, as a Native woman, I know is a responsibility.” Two years after the launch of her brand, Yellowtail started a collective of other young, native designers, allowing them to sell their work on a consignment basis through her website, which in turn makes them more money than if they tried to just sell locally. “There’s really a need for economic development,” she explains. “I want to be able to design, and create, and manufacture B. Yellowtail, our clothing and accessories, in my community,” truly bringing her success full circle.

What do you think of Bethany’s designs? What about her story resonates with you most? Sound off below!