Upon first meeting Tammy Yiu in her studio on King Street West I was immediately struck by her cheerful manner and welcoming attitude. The small group of fashion students that arrived to interview her was not an imposition but something she was happy to do. The creative director of OSC Cross and principal graphic designer of SQUAB Creative Studio is a graduate of the Ryerson University Fashion Communications program. Since graduating she has established a name for herself in the busy industry.
An Oakville native, Tammy applied to several universities for journalism and to Ryerson University for Fashion Communications. Growing up around the business side of fashion, she believed that fashion was not something for her. It was not until visiting the Ryerson campus that she realized where she needed to be and that communications was something that was of interested to her. Now she is a successful graphic designer with her own company, SQUAB. Tammy was motivated to found SQUAB in 2009 because she didn’t want to do anything related to fashion after graduating. She started interning at TBWA and was later hired as a graphic designer doing advertisements. After leaving TBWA she became an in-house designer for a small gourmet bakery, giving her more time to do freelance work on the side. She explains how she was motivated to found SQUAB, “I took a chance, and decided to try and maybe do this full time on my own and see how it goes”. The first year was “brutal” and really all about getting her foot in the door. In 2011, she became the creative director for OSC Cross. “When the opportunity arose, I volunteered”. The opportunity presented itself when her family’s manufacturing company decided to start a new brand of outerwear made in Toronto. “I could see the window of opportunity in my mind and I decided to take it”. What started off as a simple idea, has now grown and expanded internationally. When asked about her plans for the future and where she sees her career being in the next five years, she laughs and says it’s difficult to plan five years ahead. So much has changed for her in the past year that she has found it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen within five. She has learned to stop planning as much and just “roll with the punches”. However, Tammy does say that she wants to see OSC Cross grow and maintain itself, because she would like to keep putting equal amounts of time into OSC Cross and SQUAB, which she would prefer to keep small and simple.
Tammy explains that over the years she has learned many important lessons about life and the industry. She says the biggest lesson she has recently learned is to try and be as organized as possible. She began using a calendar and forcing herself to meet personal deadlines. Having coworkers in the studio helps to keep her in check, she tells us. Her advice to fashion students was “go to as many events as possible”. Some of the better partnerships they have at SQUAB are due to word of mouth, and connections from Ryerson.