“We are not just making clothes. Our work is all about experience and relationships, and the passion we treat each garment with.”Nay Huang
NYC has always been Nay Huang’s dream. As soon as she arrived in the Garment District, she knew she was here to stay.
After graduating from fashion school in Taiwan, Nay immediately dove into her fashion career. While moving to New York was already in the back of her mind, she was still building up the courage to make such a momentous life change. When an illness left her out of work for an entire month, she took the time to reflect and realized that she wasn’t fully satisfied. NYC was the epicenter of fashion, and she needed to be a part of it.
Once in New York, Nay quickly landed a string of internships with prominent brands. Without a visa, her opportunities were limited to companies that offered sponsorships. From this unique need, she was introduced to Jay Kim, owner of Blue Ribbon Couture. Nay felt incredibly lucky for this new relationship, sharing that “Jay is a true expert in this industry, and one of the finest people I’ve ever met.” Although it’s easy to feel a natural positivity and kindness emanate from Nay, she attributes much of her cheerful personality and leadership style to Jay. She continues, “He is so kind, and always puts everyone else first. After two decades, he was ready to retire but was worried about the staff and what they would do next.” While Nay was incredibly nervous, she knew what her next step needed to be — she told Jay that she would take over the business, support their clients, and care for the staff.
“These garment makers and traditions need to be respected. Everyone is so hard working and I want to hear all their stories.”
This decision came with a lot of self-doubt. Nay didn’t know if she was up to the challenge or how she could manage the company as successfully as her predecessor. But Jay trusted her and asked her to “trust herself and go for it”. He then taught her how to manage the factory, make the task of creating clothes smooth for both the clients and the employees, and coached her on becoming a business owner. When she took on the business, Blue Ribbon Couture was a traditional cut and sew factory. Now in her fifth year of ownership, Nay has renamed the company One to 13 Studio, refreshed the studio services and work environment, and introduced a new, creative spirit. Most of Blue Ribbon’s clients are still customers, but Nay is now attracting younger designers as well. The designers who partner with One to 13 pay premium prices to receive exceptional craftsmanship from a highly trained staff. The company specializes in luxury garments and is known for its unique hand work, pattern making, and production skills.
Staffing is a collective concern in this industry. It takes a lot of training and experience to work at this level, and with an aging workforce and few people coming to learn the craft, finding support can be incredibly difficult. “I’m not sure what the factory will look like in 5-10 years. You need at least 10 years of training to work as an expert”, she says. In the meantime, she is focused on her current team. She points out that her premium services are only made possible thanks to her incredible staff, and she works hard to support them in every way she can. “They are the most important people in this studio. We are not just making clothes; everyone here has a passion that comes through in how we treat each garment.” As part of her commitment to her team, Nay is developing a YouTube channel to document their stories. Through her interviews, people are given a platform to share their backgrounds and why they choose to live in NYC.
“Everyone has a unique specialty they bring to this, and not just my team. Clients, even competitors — we need to all work together.”
For now, Nay and her team continue to press on, visibly busy and clearly happy. At One to 13 Studio, every stitch carries a story and every seam is a reflection of the company’s dedication. With a roster of established clients and strong appeal from the next generation of designers, the studio’s journey is a testament to Nay’s vision, resilience, and unyielding spirit of the Garment District’s fashion scene. Her serendipitous meeting with Jay Kim may have shaped her destiny, but she is the steward of her own success.