Lynn Sakutori, Fashion Designer and 4-H Alumna
Meet Lynn Sakutori and learn how this Hawaii 4-H alumna became a successful fashion designer and entrepreneur.
How did you become involved in 4-H, and what were some influential experiences you had while in the program?
While 4-H began as another activity to keep my sister and I busy outside of school, it would become the catalyst to follow my dream.
During the 6th Grade, my sister and I took a 4-H summer sewing class on Maui. It quickly became my favorite hobby. In high school, I designed and sewed my some of my wardrobe. I also made a total of about a half-dozen prom dresses for both myself and friends. Each year, I submitted a 4-H record book in the Clothing and Textiles project. In 1993 my record book won and I represented Hawaii by attending National 4-H Congress in Chicago.
What inspired you to want to work in clothing in fashion?
I was always passionate about sewing and fashion. During high school I worked at a fabric store where I eventually taught summer sewing classes to children. While attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa I enrolled in the fashion program.
After graduation, I began my career at a local manufacturing company that produced clothing to the local department stores such as Sears and Liberty House (now Macy’s). However, to truly experience the fashion industry, I moved to New York City where I worked at several recognizable clothing companies such as Nine West, Kenneth Cole and The Limited. I lived in NYC for seven years before deciding to move back to Hawaii.
When my former employers from my first job were ready to retire, I purchased the company and changed the name to Sakutori Designs. We worked to enhance the labels sold at Macy’s and Sears throughout Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Now, my newest petite collection, Sakutori, is featured in Nordstrom.
Ultimately, my hobby developed into a passion and is now a fulfilling career. Owning a business is a tremendous amount of work that feels like it never stops. However it doesn’t feel like work since I really enjoy what I do.
What advice do you have for 4-H members?
Most of my mentors suggested I pursue teaching because it was more financially stable than being a fashion designer. I knew I could teach but that wouldn’t make me happy. Instead I did what I loved and it paid off.
Try as many activities as possible while in 4-H because you won’t know which one you will like best until you try. Stick with what you love and the rest will work itself out.