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Ours in the USA: how to accidentally get into Hollywood, become a costume designer and open a famous store

Yana Syrkin never dreamed of working in the cinema. Photo: from the personal archive of Yana Syrkin

Yana Syrkin, a young woman with pink hair and a smile that doesn’t come to her lips, who has worked as a costume designer for almost 20 years in Hollywood and managed to create the world's first luxury clothing store for dogs, leads a life many people dream of

She lives in the prestigious Los Angeles area, Las Vilas, communicates with world famous movie stars, works for pleasure on TV shows and runs her store with the sweet name Fifi & Romeo, where all celebrities buy clothes for their pets.

With all the merits, Yana easily makes contact, agrees to an interview via Skype and laughs a lot in the process of our sincere conversation, reflecting on the film industry, modern youth and the difference between Russia and America.

Material prepared in partnership with the site. “Ukrainian Inters”.

Yana, have you ever dreamed of a movie? Want to work in this industry?

Never. I didn’t think, didn’t want and didn’t dream. It just happened. Lucky case. When I attended university, I earned money by sewing things. By the way, I studied at the Faculty of Finance, can you imagine? And after that I was going to the Faculty of Law, although I understood that I would be bored there. And my friends worked in the cinema and offered to join them. I asked - What do I know? What will I do there? They answered - What a difference! Let's go to! I thought that ok, let's go, let's play 3 of the month ... And stayed for the rest of my happy life.

And you started working as a costume designer?

Yes, but it did not happen in one day. Here, all at once do not give. It takes a lot of work. I began to work in such a movie, which is better not even talk. But I had a lot of fun. When making an independent film, there are fewer rules, less fuss, but sometimes it is embarrassing to say where you work. Nothing vulgar, just a shame by Hollywood standards.

And then you left the movie on 15 years?

Yes, it was impossible to combine. I opened my own business - a luxury clothing store for dogs in 1998. I returned to the cinema only a couple of years ago. And all this time it was a little sad. Always, when I drove past the cinema cars, my neck pulled. I missed you very much.

Why did you start making clothes for dogs?

I was given a Chihuahua breed dog for my birthday, and since at that time I was working at the 12-16 film studio hours a day, I started taking it with me to work. And in the film studio, air conditioners worked to their full potential, and my two-kilogram pet caught a cold. I ran to the vet, received a bill for 211 dollars and decided that we would not be ill anymore. Expensive comes out.

I started driving around the city to find a store with clothes for dogs, but I didn’t find anything. That was before the Internet, in 1995.

I returned home, in a frustrated way, and, without hesitation, took one of my cashmere sweaters, cut off my sleeves and made a sweater for the dog. I still have this habit from the USSR, when I was redoing all the clothes that I had gotten to pull.

In the end, I continued to carry the dog to work, but she was always in a fashionable sweater and was never sick again.

Yana Syrkin opened a shopFifi & Romeo"In 2000 year. This place was the first in the world luxury boutique for dogs. One item of clothing from its boutique costs up to three hundred or four hundred dollars. There, clothes for their pets are bought by Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Christina Aguilera, Ketty Perry, Sting, Torrey Spelling and many others. Prior to creating her own business, Yana worked for fifteen years as a production designer at Hollywood film studios and dressed stars for the Oscar ceremony.

Her shop is like a dollhouse. Photo: from the personal archive of Yana Syrkin

And at the movie studio noticed a new thing on the dog?

Of course, they could not contain their affection in front of this charm in cashmere. Then questions began to come - what is your dog wearing? What's on it? Actresses and actors began to buy small dogs and order clothes for them from me. So from a studio dresser, I turned into a designer of clothes for dogs and became a trendsetter in dog fashion. I didn't plan it, honestly. It happened so.

And you were one of the first to invent bags for dogs?

We can say that I first came up with these bags in the world. And also only for the reason that the entrance to the film studio was forbidden with animals, and the dog was not wanted to be left at home. And I made a bag with holes, where I began to hide my pet. And the actresses wanted these bags too.

World stars have become regular customers in the store Yana Syrkin. Photo: from the personal archive of Yana Syrkin

At what point did you realize that the idea was large-scale?

I decided to try to go to the big stores, took a pair of dog cashmere sweaters, folded them into a bag and sent them to Barneys... After 3 days, I had an order for 10 thousand items and I didn't know what to do. But in the end I found a solution, I work in the cinema - give me a task and I will do it. Then it started ... I ended up on the Oprah Winfrey show. After that, my phone started to break, and I decided to leave. Surprisingly, business went extraordinarily well in Japan, where I opened 12 stores. The Japanese are crazy about little dogs. True, in 2008, due to the crisis and financial problems, all stores in Japan had to be closed.

Got a profitable business?

Quite profitable - and now they copy me all day long. There used to be nothing from my house to the store, and now there are 12 stores with clothes for dogs. My mom says I gave the whole world a good idea.

BoutiqueFifi & Romeo»Closed to bystanders. You can get inside only by prior arrangement. So the owner of the store protects her rich and famous customers from the annoying attention of onlookers and paparazzi.

Is there still no law that does not allow shamelessly copy things?

It's useless. I released the item, 30% changed and the item is sold as unique. The Chinese do it with such speed that I do not have time for them. I killed so much money for lawyers! And I continue to spend every day.

I go online once, and in Florida a new store with dog clothes has opened, well, just like mine. I went to their website, and there my picture with my dogs. It cost me 20 thousands to close them. Do I really want to spend money and nerves on it? Frankly, I often read stories from other companies that copy me and tell my story as mine.

Do you have any idea how to defeat such plagiarism?

I think I need to put a password to view clothes on the site. So that ideas are not stolen. I want to know who goes there. If you have already entered - buy. And if you don't buy, then why watch?

But a couple of years ago, you went back to the movies again. Are you bored?

Oh yeah. I was offered to return, and I happily agreed. And the soul is so good, the birds sing. Now I work as a supervisor, head of the department. I am engaged in finance, in command of people, and young people draw. And I find it more interesting to look at them.

Are you working on movies?

Now they began to do a lot of television programs, and the filming of films was transferred from the studios to other cities, like Atlanta, or countries - Canada, for example. It's more profitable because of taxes. But I don't want to go far, because I take a job, which is in Los Angeles, and these are, basically, only TV shows. 10 episodes were filmed and paused, another 10 episodes were filmed - and again a break.

Last week, I worked on a show pilot for Fox... I haven't been there for 20 years and it was so interesting to come back. They hugged me so, kissed me - it was so good. It's nice that I haven't been there for 17 years, and Hollywood hasn't forgotten.

Yana Syrkin as a designer and costume designer worked at major Hollywood film studios: MGM, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, New Line Cinema, Touchstone. She has created looks for the heroes of the films "Blade", "Stargate", "The Singer at the Wedding", "Don't Menace South Central" and dozens of others, and was also the personal stylist of Robert Downey Jr., Sting, Lucy Liu, Ann Hatch and Eliza Donovan. For her work in the popular TV series "Ellie McBill" Yana Syrkin received an award as the best designer of the year from the Guild of Costume Designers.

Have you ever had an agent?

I've never had an agent. The agent is my mouth. Agents are not looking for work, their task is to "beat out" the best conditions for their clients. And I'll tell you what I need. I know my worth.

How do you now combine business and work in the cinema?

Easy and fun. Now I do what I want, and not what someone needs. Just recently we did a pet party for the residents of the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles, where I sold our stuff.

How do you work with young talents?

There are moments. During the filming, there are always some situations - someone said what, someone was offended by someone. Young people often sort things out. I explain to them that everyone should be fine. For them, these are games, but for me it is already lived. This is a tough business. As well as anyone who deals with big money. There is a lot of competition in the film industry - there are few places, there are a lot of applicants, and everyone wants to rise to the next level by any means.

Have you already gone through all this?

Yes. And now I always follow the advice that Robert Downey Jr. gave me. At one time we were very friendly with him and one day I came to complain to him. I was also worried about everything, I was looking for the truth, I could not remain silent. He looked at me like that and said - Whatever you are gonna do (Translated from English - Yana, shut up, listen, turn around and do what you are going to do). I have never heard the best advice in my life. It helped a lot.

Now in the film industry is harder to get than it was before?

In life, it's generally hard to get anywhere and get settled well. Life has become difficult for young people with the advent of the Internet and new technologies. When all the information is in front of you, it's so difficult to choose the best deal.

And this Instagram ... Modern youth takes everything on the phone - day and night. When appeared Facebook, I still coped with my grief and got 300 thousands of fans, but when the Instagram boom started, I just turned off. This voyeurism is crazy. You need to run all day, take pictures, so that my picture is better than yours. I have nothing else to do? The purpose of life is where to run to take the best photo of today. I understand that this is for business to do, but it is necessary to delve into it, take people. I'm not ready yet.

Yana was the first person in the world to create a boutique for dogs. Photo: from the personal archive of Yana Syrkin

Do you have any memories of Ukraine?

We left Kharkov when I was 12 years old. Of course, I remember a lot. Recently, by the way, we flew with mom to Ukraine and Russia for the first time in 33. It was the happiest month of my life! We visited Kharkov and found our old house, even though mom assured me that I was wrong. They flew to Moscow and were shocked by how everything was built up there. I do not remember the name of the shopping center, but it is a crush on me. We also had time to Peter on the white nights. I really liked it!

When you were in Ukraine and Russia, did you feel the difference with America?

Everything is different there. People gather after work, go for a walk. In Los Angeles, there are only three places where you can walk - walk on this street or this one. But more and more people go shopping. No one leaves the house just like that, without a goal, to walk, sit on a bench, as people in Ukraine do. In Kharkov, my brother took me to the park and there is such a grace - attractions, children run, lovers kiss, people walk back and forth.

Do you consider yourself Ukrainian or American?

I am half Russian and half American. I left very young to remain Ukrainian, and very mature to become an American. Neither ours nor yours - that's what I say to myself.

How do Americans perceive you?

As Russian. And to be more precise, Americans perceive me as responsible for elections (responsible for the election results. - Author). They watch TV a lot and think what they hear from TV presenters. They think I helped Trump. When I tell them that I am from Ukraine, I call them Kiev, because nobody has heard about Kharkov there, and I don't want to be stuck for 20 minutes. After the war, unfortunately, it became easier to explain where you are from, because everyone knows that thousands of people were killed there.

I arrived here recently on Warners Brothers. First day at work, I am sitting with a woman in a car. And she asks - What do you say? The Russians really fix the election? Do the Russians help Trump? (What do you think? Did the Russians really interfere in the election results? Did the Russians really help Trump? - Author.)

Well, here we have nothing more to do. Here you are all much needed.

Yana Syrkin has pink hair and beautiful smiles. Photo: from the personal archive of Yana Syrkin

You work in Hollywood, have created an incredibly successful business. Can you call yourself a successful person?

What does it mean? What have I done? Am I happy? I will never be happy because I am always looking for something. On the other hand, I am the happiest: I do what I want, and at the same time I am always missing something. For me, there is no point in material things - I don't want a new car or a new dress every year, I'm looking for new emotions! And I find them. Here's a dream to fly to the Maldives. I think there is a paradise on earth.

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