Model-entrepreneur Jessica Minh Anh told Popspoken she wanted to show that “the new generation is doing great things to make the future brighter.” Speaking before the J Summer Fashion Show on Wednesday, Minh Anh could have well been referring to Indonesian designers Raisa Widjaja and Sarah Callista, who are doing just that with HAY United, their brand of vibrant, fashion forward active wear.
The stylish twenty-somethings, originally from Indonesia, were invited by Minh Anh’s J Model Management to participate in the show, held at the One World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan.
Congratulations on a successful show! Tell us, what’s the story behind HAY United?
Raisa: We’ve been friends for quite a while, and one day we decided to make a clothing line together. We realized Indonesians were getting more and more health conscious, and thought we needed to get into this niche because there wasn’t any stylish active wear around yet.
Our name is HAY United, and HAY stands for Hot, Active, Young. The idea of the brand is exactly that – hot, active, and young women who like to look stylish while they work out. It’s more of a lifestyle brand. You can wear our clothing not just for sports, but as street wear as well.
Sarah: We started the brand about a year ago. It basically caters to your active lifestyle. Anything can be part of an active lifestyle – walking down the street, going about your busy day, even clubbing! I think when we come to New York, this is what you would call an active life. Everybody’s so busy, and everybody’s wearing flats and sneakers. HAY United’s definitely something you could wear on the busy streets of this city. And Jakarta’s starting to become like that.
What was it like to be invited to showcase your designs at the J Summer Fashion Show?
Raisa: It was pretty amazing, actually. It was very surprising.
Sarah: We were like, “ok…what is this –”
Raisa: “Is this a hoax?” (laughs) It’s too good to be true. We were very freaked out, but we wanted to keep it in you know, not getting our hopes up…”
Sarah: I called them actually, through Skype, like a day after they emailed us. It was on her (Raisa’s) birthday, just before going to her birthday dinner. And it turned out that yeah, it was true and they actually invited us.
I asked them how did they find us, and they said “we have a team of researchers who look for brands all over the world who we think are unique,” And I was like “wow.”
Wow that must have been such a nice thing to hear.
Raisa: We were flying through the roof. That was such an amazing compliment.
Tell us a little more about the pieces we saw from HAY United tonight.
Sarah: The pieces are part of our second collection that we were going to launch at a pop-up store we just opened in Jakarta. The grand opening was at the beginning of this month, and the original plan was to launch it there. But this is just the perfect timing, being in June, so we figured you know what, let’s just launch it in New York. I mean where else can you launch that’s even better than New York? It’s the capital city of fashion.
Raisa: We enjoyed it (the show) very much. I think it’s very amazing to see our collection being showcased here in New York, especially here in the One World Trade Center, even before it’s opened. It’s an amazing venue, amazing event, and we feel quite honored actually to be, I guess, one of a kind here. We’re pretty different, the only lifestyle active wear brand here in the show. So we’re very honored.
What was the reception like? Did you get any feedback from any of the other designers here too?
Raisa: Actually we got quite good reviews. A few members of the media came up to us and said they liked our collection, and they said “oh yeah we can wear that not only for the gym.” We’re so happy that our idea got across without us even telling them.
HAY United’s the the only South-East Asian representative at the J Summer Fashion Show too. Does that make you feel extra proud?
Sarah: Yes, of course! I think the 20-hour flight was worth it, just to see this show. You know, as a designer I would have never thought my designs could ever be shown in New York. I mean when I was in college, this was like one of the cities that I’d never dream of. So when today happened…you know, I still can’t believe it.”
Raisa: It’s really amazing.
Awesome. So what’s next for HAY United?
Raisa: We’re hoping that after this show we would get, I guess, more coverage from the Indonesian press. And of course we’re already planning for our permanent store in one of the biggest malls in Indonesia. So yeah, hopefully we can open a lot of flagship stores for our brand everywhere in Indonesia, and then hopefully expand.”
Finally, HAY United’s only a year old and already you’ve made it to arguably the fashion capital of the world. Were there any huge challenges you had to overcome to get to where you are?
Sarah: Hmmm…the one thing we always do, is that we really try to make our vision one vision and work together, because –
You’re United after all, right?
Sarah: (laughs) Exactly, Amen to that. But yeah we really do try to be united, so that later on in whatever we do – branch out, open our flagship store or anything, we’re in this together.
So yeah, I think that’s the most important thing – as long as we’re together, and we have the same vision, I don’t think there’s anything we can’t overcome!