Yifat Oren Founder and Creative Director,
Yifat Oren & Associates
Where are you from? Born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Raised in LA
What are your hobbies? I work a lot so it’s not easy to have many hobbies these days. When I’m not working, I love to spend time with my kids. I also love cooking (and I’m pretty darn good at it), gardening, interior design, hiking, and biking at our weekend home in Ojai, which is truly my happy place.
YIFAT, ON WORK
Tell us about your career trajectory: I was a hostess at the cheesecake factory at my first job. I began my career in the special events industry over 18 years ago working in publishing where I sold advertising space for wedding magazines. This allowed me to meet many different vendors and see first-hand what worked and didn’t work in the industry. This experience led me to launch YOA.
Tell us about some specific moments you believe were game changers in your career. Were there any tough choices you had to make? I believe my first A-list celebrity client really propelled the business forward. Not because their wedding was better than other clients but because of the media attention it received. From then forward I never stopped getting publicity, which has been pivotal in terms of our marketing. In terms of hard decisions, I remember being pregnant with my first child and having to pass on a job I really wanted in the south of France. I thought to myself, this is the difference between men and women; a man would never have to choose between work and a baby. So after I tortured myself for a couple of days, it was a clear choice, not take on the job, and be able to take a month off after my son was born. After all, you never get to have your first child twice.
What’s been your biggest challenge in building your career? I think in a luxury service business where the attention to detail is paramount, it was very difficult for me to trust people enough to delegate. It took a real shift in the way I looked at the business and, quite honestly, having children, to make my personal time a priority. Once I had kids, I could no longer work the hours I did, at that point I had to let go and learn that just because people don’t execute things the exact way I would have, it does not mean it’s the wrong way.
What qualities have you developed that have been essential to your success? Being in the luxury service business, I am still am completely aware of who we are serving and what our role is. I have seen many people in this business fall into a pattern where they are the star. I think that’s a slippery slope.
Can you give our customers some career tips? Well, I worked my tail off in the beginning. I was one person & I did everything. I believe in starting small & keeping your cost low. I believe you give 110%, 110% of the time. You never say no to a client, or I don’t know how to do it. You say yes, then you figure out how.
YIFAT, ON LIFE
What does a normal day for you entail? Well the good and bad about my business is that there are no routines. Everyday is different, and that’s very good and very bad, all in the same breath. However, I’m normally up by 6am to get my kids ready for school. My husband usually takes our oldest one early, so then I get to spend some time with our little girl - she’s five. Soon enough she’ll start kindergarten so we will not have this morning time together. Anyhow, we pick out her clothes and my clothes, get ourselves dressed and I take her to pre-school. Next year will be life changing because both kids will be out the door at 7:30am, which means I can get back in a very regular exercise routine. After drop off, I usually go in to the office and most of the time, I barely have time to go to the bathroom, that’s how crazy it is between phone calls, e-mails, internal meetings with staff regarding upcoming events, and client meetings to discuss sample decor set ups and menu tastings.
There are only 24 hours in a day. How do you balance your life? Who says I do? All us working women strive for balance, but I’m not sure who is really achieving it. I give what I can, where I need to, every day. Sometimes my kids need more, sometimes my business does, and I try to make time for my marriage as well.
How do you organize your life to take care of your family and grow your career? Well, I think it helps to be far along enough in your career path so that you are able to delegate more to staff, and truthfully, afford some help at home.
What/Who do you look to for motivation? I find motivation all around me…every day! Certain friends, public figures, there is motivation everywhere.
What are some motivational words you live by? I am totally crazy about Abraham Lincoln. He said many wise things but this is one I love: ‘Whatever you are, be a good one’
Any life advice you would now give to your younger self? This is a tough one. I suppose I would tell myself not to take everything as intensely as I did, I am definitely calmer and have more perspective now.
I can’t go a week without reading whatever book I’m reading at the time
My must-have apps are Waze, Flipboard, and a little Instagram never hurt anyone.
When I am exhausted, my favorite way to unwind is a nap
Pour me a glass of Billercarte Salmon, anytime.
You’ll never hear me say “classy”. I hate that word
YIFAT, ON AELLA
How would your life change if you could just wear one outfit all day? It would be such a time saver. As I’ve gotten older, I have no more patience for clothes that are uncomfortable. There is zero possibility. It has to be stylish and comfortable.
When you first put on your AELLA pants, what came to your mind? They just feel so good. They hold you in all the right places, they’re comfortable, yet I feel like I’m wearing elegant slacks
How would you describe AELLA to someone who has not experienced our clothes? It’s like clothes you want to live in. I would never have to change from morning to night. Normally I come home from work, I’ll throw off my shoes and put on a caftan- something really comfortable. But I wouldn’t have to change out of this.