It takes a few moments for an observer to discern the differences that make these twin sisters a true fashion force.
To-Nya is the designer behind the Sachika fashion line. She’s softer and more deliberate in her speech. To-Tam is the marketer, the more aggressive half of the team by nature and by training. To-Tam seems a bit rounder of face though she is every bit as model-slender as her twin sister.
What the sisters share in common goes beyond genetics. They were born to Vietnamese parents who owned an upscale Japanese restaurant in Paris and were raised in Montreal. This background has given them a unique cultural perspective from which to tackle the task of dressing high-energy Manhattan women for long days that blur into nights.
“Designing is something that attracted me during my childhood,” recalls To-Nya. “I wanted to be a world-renowned fashion designer.” She went beyond daydreaming. She attended the International Academy of Design in Montreal for a fashion degree, followed by a business certificate. She’s the one who took the initiative to move to New York to start up Sachika in midtown Manhattan.
Sachika is a Japanese name that means “More wishes, more fortune, more happiness,” explains To-Tam the marketer. “A friend of our father’s was taking Japanese lessons. He came in one day and told us our names in Japanese. I was “Tokaido” and To-Nya is ‘Sachika.’ We loved it the moment we heard it and when To-nya opened the company it was natural that we would call it that.”
Sachika the fashion line specializes in all-purposes dresses for strong, indepedent women who are far too busy to go home and change for evenings on the town. The sisters feel that the versatility of Sachika dresses is good value for hard economic times.
”Sachika was created by our lifestyle,” says To-Tam. “We are busy, modern women on the go. We are always looking to accomplish many things at once. It starts with dressing the right way. We have one chance to make a right impression.”
To-Tam earned a degree in communications and journalism at the University of Montreal. She knows well that publicity is Sachika’s lifeblood. Having defined their customer based as women in the 24 to 45 age range, she relies heavily on the internet to get the word out about their Swiss Army Knife approach to fashion. They take full advantage of social networking sites likes Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Their website www.sachika.com has generated online sales.
“If you have a company and no product you’re in trouble,” adds To-Nya, putting the focus back on Sachika’s raison d’etre. “It’s a lot of work creating a concept, choosing fabrics, dealing with production, and finding events for us to put my products out there. From the design to the conception we have to have something that’s well put together.” They use small local factories to make the dresses and jumpsuits. They have recently added a Sachika jewelry line and a men’s T-Shirt line called “Tux-Body” for the well built male. They’re casual and comfortable but dressy enough to wear to meetings.
January marked Sachika’s first anniversary.
That’s quite an achievement when you consider that the sisters financed Sachika entirely by themselves. They cocktail waitressed and bartended nights. They spent days as real estate agents.
“Building a brand is hard,” says To-Tam. “We are careful in terms of expenses. What is a priority? What is this for? We prioritize our expenses on everything. Not too aggressive but at the same time we have to put money where it’s needed. Adjusting to the market which is ever-changing is important to maintain trendiness.”
Marketing Sachika is a never ending process, an extension of their lives. Whether they’re singing at events, acting in martial art films, or setting up runway events, their heart is always on promoting Sachika.