Addye Durant, owner of Joyfantastic Design and creator of the Yay 9! apparel and accessories brand, believes in the power of cute. Thus, she has created super cute nine-year-olds — Joyce, LuLu and Violet — who have found and embraced their happiness, or their “Yays,” via their unique personalities, hairstyles, talents and interests.
“I am a big kid at heart, and I am inspired by character driven brands like Paul Frank, Hello Kitty, tokidoki and Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers,” said Durant. “I’m into pop culture, art, fashion and designer toys, as they call it. And I just noticed in the landscape of all of that there was a little something missing — little brown girls. I noticed, especially within the designer toy scene — they call them vinyls, which is basically a very small community of designers that create their own lines of toys — I noticed that there really wasn't anything that represented where I was coming from as an adult woman, and also as a young lady. I just thought, ‘Why not?’ These girls have their place there, and I think now the landscape is open to receiving them. In the niche that I am in, there are characters, but they are either animals or inanimate objects that have personalities, or they might be children or young people, but they might be in some kind of crazy customs or they have a violent connotation to it. Also, because that industry is kind of male driven, that plays into it as well. These little girls just happen to be brown, and they are into cool things, and I haven’t come across anything like this, and I think now is their time.”
Durant grew up in Allentown, Pa., and moved to the Philadelphia in 1988 to go to school at the Hussian School of Art where she studied commercial art/graphic design. As a child, she studied art at home with her late mother, Joyce Durant, who was an artist and master tailor. Her sister, Crystal, is also an artist and DJ in New York City. The Yay 9! characters have existed since 2002, and have evolved over the years from family inspiration.
“There are three little girls that are all reflections of myself, my late mother and sister,” explained Durant. “First we have Joyce, the one in the pink dress (named after my mother), and she’s a combination of my mother and sister. She’s very outspoken, and can be sarcastic in a away. She is really into pop culture and deejays at the school talent shows. Then, there is Violet, who a little bit more like me, shy and reserved. She plays the guitar and meditates using the focal point of Jimi Hendrix. And, then we have Lulu, in the orange dress. She’s interesting. She’s a little flighty, and people underestimates her and she surprises them at every turn. Lulu is into aeronautics and astrology and she’s building a spaceship with her friend Sid, who happens to be an alien.”
The Yay 9! girls are undoubtedly cute, sassy and joyous. “They do things that are a little unexpected, but that is every girl,” notes Durant. “We're into lots of things: we like girly things and we like rough-and-tumble things. They are my little girls and they keep me happy...I've kept them close to my hear. Now, they are older and are ready to go out into the world.”
For more information about Yay 9!, visit http://yay9.com, or search their name on Facebook.com or Twitter.