After a visit to her native Vietnam for the first time in her adult life, Dina Yang was horrified by the conditions of the women who live and work there, and decided she wanted to do something to improve their lives.
From her home in Fort Worth, Texas, she started a company called Lenore by Dina Yang, which specializes in hand-embroidered items like cosmetic bags, bedding and women’s pajamas, all made from luxury fabrics.
Initially employing 20 women, now over 40 work in the Vietnam factory to create items for a business that Columbus local Claudia Garrard purchased in February.
Garrard says if you have fond memories of the crisp embroidered bedding in your grandmother’s guest room or enjoy a soft nightgown, the collection is for you.
She’s holding a sample sale this Friday and Saturday at her warehouse, where she says locals can come to find deeply discounted early Christmas or birthday gifts.
“I’m scaling back, and this is a great opportunity for me to share these beautiful things with the community,” Garrard said. “You can really find some special treasures here.”
After discovering Yang and her products at a seller’s mart in January, Garrard has been working to bring the hand-embroidered products to the masses, which she said have a “classic, timeless style.”
Though Garrard now owns the business and operates out of a warehouse off Manchester Expressway in Columbus, Yang still designs the items and has them sewn and embroidered in Vietnam. The new partnership has already proved fruitful, Garrard said, as she works to strengthen relationships with buyers and create new ones, as well as improve customer service.
Garrard sells some of the products at trade shows. She went to Atlanta for one in July that brings in buyers from all over the country and world.
“We probably acquired maybe 20-25 new stores at that show. That will build,” she said. “One thing that’s important to me is not to grow too fast, I want to service the customers that we currently have and make sure we do a good job taking care of them and grow slowly so we don’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Garrard is also working to narrow the scope of the brand after receiving all of the inventory that Yang had accumulated. She said she very quickly realized why it was challenging for Yang to be successful when she finished counting the number of makeup bags in the warehouse and came up with over 10,000.
“The bags are beautiful and the colors are great but it really causes more of a challenge for retailers because they only have so much real estate in their store to devote to your product,” she said.
While ladies nightwear, custom bedding and makeup bags are still a focus, Garrard has added a baby clothing and gifts line as well as easy-to-wear and easy-to-care-for women’s shirts and dresses.
The sample sale will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. September 20 and 21, with items up to 90% off.
The warehouse is located at 506 Manchester Expressway Unit C5.