Growing up and spending a majority of my life in Seattle, WA I thought I was a pro at handling the rain. What I quickly found upon my arrival in New York was that although less constant, when it rains in New York it pours. Thankfully I met Yurika Nakazono (pictured left) and Marie Saeki (right) through Pauline of Pounou Hearts You (who I featured here). These two are founders of Terra New York, a new and innovative weather proof line of women's jackets that are both functional and fashionable and have saved many a rain soaked walk through the New York City streets.Both Yurika and Marie are New York City transplants. Their varying backgrounds and experiences allowed them to create a collaborative and successful fashion line for the urban dweller with their first production in October 2011. Yurika is Japanese yet born in Sweden. She has lived and worked everywhere from Stockholm, Chamonix, Tokyo, London and Paris to New York, where she has resided the past 11 years. She moved to New York to study at Parson's and eventually met Marie through her New York hairdresser, who is Marie's husband.Marie moved to New York from Paris, France 15 years ago. In Paris she attended Esmod, the International Fashion University Group, and picked up an interest in public relations.Her infatuation with the city began when she first vacationed in New York. After two weeks of vacationing Marie considered herself a New Yorker. As she said, "I thought I must have been born here in a past life."It wasn't until after her vacation, three years later, that she ended up moving to New York permanently. Upon her move she started her own PR business and has been here ever since.What originated as Marie and Yurika's personal desire for stylish rain gear has since filled a void in the market. "For as long as I've been in fashion, I've had a vison of what I would like to wear in the rain. I could never find this look so this has been something that started long ago, we just had to get together to make it work," said Yurika.Their outdoorsy nature found them in pursuit of fashionable rain jackets that could be worn on their bike commute during wet days in the city. "I love biking, but when it is raining, what are you going to wear to go see Anna Wintour?" Marie joked. Yurika always loved construction, draping, illustrating and playing with fabrics while Marie was familiar with what it takes to start a business. "Whatever her weakness is my strength and vice versa," said Yurika, who is extremely detail oriented in design. She focuses on the feminine body shape, body movement, and the technical part of clothing, for example, the armhole she created to mimic that found on a ski jacket for ventilation and the pockets that open opposite so water won't seep in. Marie is more focused on the business side. This variance in thought process is a positive difference, but only in the presence of great communication.From the beginning communication and a mutual respect for each other was key. "I am super direct. I am Swedish and Japanese--there is no fuzziness there!" And while they are friends now, their relationship began as business partners. "I advise to not be friends and then start working together. Instead it is better to start working together and then become friends," Marie said. Honesty in friendship is one thing, but honesty as business partners is a whole other because it sometimes requires a brutality which can't be taken personally. For Marie and Yurika honesty is not only important in communication with each other but is important when communicating the quality of their product with consumers."It is really important to produce a truly good product because if you don't produce something that works when you say it will, people will not be interested," Marie said. With this mindset they have created a truly good product. The biggest roadblock they have had so far was finding a factory and the material because they knew what they wanted but didn't know if it existed or could be easily produced. It took a year of research and denial by three factories before they found one that was capable of using the technique they needed. "We knew if we couldn't get the vision and quality right then it would die out," Yurika said.The quality of their jackets really is incredible and for a very affordable price. The polyurethane material is biodegradeable and water resistant with heat sealed seams. "The goal was to go under a shower and make sure no water got through," Marie said. They also tested their product with different friends in different countries. The jackets are useful year round, especially for those rainy but humid spring and summer days because the mix of rain and plastic actually produces a chillier temperature. Yurika sees clothes as a sort of armor, protecting the body yet enhancing the female strength and wanted to design something with a sporty edge. When it came to Terra New York she was especially interested in working with movement, light, transparency, and structure. One of my favorite parts are the names of each jacket. If you live on the east side of Manhattan the "Lower East Side" parka might be perfect for you with it's hipster vibe and large hood which is capable of fitting over a helmut. Besides New York, other popular markets for the parkas have been London, Asia and ironically, Los Angeles.With a good product comes good press, which Terra New York has easily attracted. It helps they have such a niche product because it is easy to promote. The first two years were about getting people familiar with the product and getting buyers interested. A lot of people aren't ready for such a forward design and don't get it, but they are on the radar of trend spotting sites like Cool Hunting. For Marie and Yurika it is a learning experience just like adapting to life in New York City.Both Marie and Yurika have had valuable growth experiences in New York. "This city is a stepping stone in a lot if peoples lives. You have to make it yours and earn it. The first year is hard, the second year is easier, and the third year things are smooth and you can enjoy everything you learned from the first and second year," said Yurika. She can be found in the "Tribeca" parka as she lives there with her family, while Marie is more of a "Lower Eastside" girl.What is next for Terra New York? They are interested in expanding their offering of water repellant items as well as an offering of other weather proof collections. As a mother, Yurika would love to make children's parkas. The dog market is so huge in New York they have also contemplated jackets for these four legged friends. "In the beginning it was all about the urban dweller but our audience has expanded--even to my mom who plays golf!" said Yurika. They are constantly reevaluating the market and while they feel comfortable with their business they are always striving for further success. "I will never be satisfied ever. I think things can always be better and you can always develop into a better person. As the designer I am inspired everyday--this is certainly not a job where you leave your work at the office." said Yurika.Hopefully, one day, they will have their own free standing Terra New York store. "Terra New York is a lifestyle that is completely weather oriented so it would be an interesting store to curate for and pursue collaborations," they said. In the meantime they will continue to pursue success and enjoy the traveling that comes with their work. They seem to find joy in everything, including the struggle, because at the end of every day they have learned something new and find joy from all of it because it is their own company. And really, who can rain on that parade?!Make sure to follow Terra New York on Twitter and like them on Facebook. You can shop their jackets and read more about them at www.terranewyork.com.
All photos of me courtesy of Alex Mouganis Photography.