Yana Gorbulsky is an anomaly. She’s American and Russian, confident and insecure, outgoing and reclusive. She’s at once hip and old school, cutting edge and classic.
“Don’t take any pictures, please!” insists the 23-year-old SJU alumna turned fashion designer as she dabs a little blush on her cheeks. The room is covered in colorful strips of cloth. The hint of a classic white Singer sewing machine pokes through a pile of teals, blues, and reds. A copy of Lolita sits on a table beneath a bulletin board covered in magazine clippings featuring the products of Gorbulsky’s inventive clothing line, Supayana.
“I love to read,” she explains. “My clothing line is made to appeal to girls who are smart, different, like to read, and enjoy good clean fun…girls like me.”
Supayana (a name adapted from the Saturday Night Live skit turned movie, “Superstar”) started in 2002 when Gorbulsky, then 18, began selling handmade blouses through her Web site, supayana.com, and on eBay. The line, as Gorbulsky explains, is tailor-made to appeal to girls in their teens and 20s looking for a classic style with a young and colorfully vibrant twist.
“I draw inspiration from many eras, especially the 1950s and ’60s,” Gorbulsky explains. “I look to Japan for inspiration and visit the East Village for ideas.”
Gorbulsky, who emigrated from Russia in 1989 at the age of four and currently works out of her apartment/studio in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, graduated from St. John’s with a speech pathology degree, something that she says has benefited her greatly in her young career as a fashion designer.
“I developed people skills from majoring in speech pathology,” Gorbulsky said. “I learned how to budget my time and developed a good work ethic during my time at St. John’s.”
The Russian native’s clothing line has brought her financial success even before graduating college. In the spring of her junior year, Gorbulsky fully funded a semester abroad at Rome through her clothing sales. The girl from Brooklyn who claims to “hate how Russians dress” may not design clothing like her native people, but she certainly demonstrates a cultural resourcefulness in putting together new and exciting designs.
“I try to use every scrap of fabric,” Gorbulsky said. “I think there’s a lot of waste in fashion design. I try to be resourceful.”
Supayana has achieved major publicity in recent months.
Gorbulsky graced the pages of this past Sunday’s edition of the Daily News and one of her blouses was worn by “The Real World: Denver” star Lacy Buehler during a September 2006 appearance on “The Tyra Banks Show.” Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and Web sites, garnering the young entrepreneur some significant press despite her resistance to advertising.
“I don’t like to advertise,” Gorbulsky said. “I prefer just getting press in newspapers and magazines.”
A multi-dimensional artist, Gorbulsky is not just a designer, but also a businesswoman. The petite brunette often models her own pieces in photographs and is responsible for marketing and shipment of each design. Her clothing is not your typical vintage line-Supayana is largely composed of hybrid pieces that encompass classicism and contemporary culture, all while portraying a modest sense of individuality.
As for her future plans, Gorbulsky plans on evolving her perpetually growing clothing line.
“I’m looking to continue what I’m doing and plan on including more limited editions on my Web site,” she said.
Typically ranging between $80-$90, Supayana is a clothing line made by a multi-dimensional designer for multi-dimensional girls.