Not many college students have designed their own fashion line or grown a social media following surpassing 100K. But Villanova University sophomore communication major Ioana-Taisia Turcescu—known by her friends, family and social media followers as Yoyo—has done both.
Turcescu traveled more than 4,700 miles from her home in Romania to attend Villanova. With a passion and keen eye for fashion, you might think design school was her destination. But Turcescu—with career aspirations to work in a public relations, social media or marketing field with a focus on helping grow fashion brands—wanted a university with a strong communication program.
Despite a freshman year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Turcescu gained a great deal from her coursework—learning not only from her professors, but also from those around her.
“My communication classes taught me to listen to people more,” said Turcescu. “I found that I was also learning so much from my classmates. The classes were discussion-based, so I had the chance to listen to how the people around me view the world.”
The pandemic, Turcescu says, also gave her more time to think and develop new ideas. After completing her freshman year, she returned to Romania—following numerous cancelled flights due to the pandemic—only to have to quarantine for two weeks at home with her father and stepmother, Oana Nutu, a well-known Romanian fashion designer specializing in bridal and other formal occasion dresses. While looking at some of her stepmother’s dresses online, Turcescu thought about how nice the tops of the dresses (the corsets) would look as separate pieces. She spent the next night sketch and brainstorming ideas for designs, colors and names.
After sharing the concepts with her stepmom, a new line of corsets—“Yoyo” by Oana Nutu—was born. Turcescu and Nutu worked through the summer to finalize the designs and identify the right fabrics for the line of corsets, which officially launched in August 2020—and is selling extremely well. The thought of others wearing her designs is hard for her to put into words.
“Honestly, it is unlike anything I have ever felt before,” said Turcescu. “I remember joking about it in the beginning. I was like, ‘What if I walk by someone wearing one of my designs one day? I would literally cry!’.”
“I actually had a similar experience to that,” Turcescu added. “I was scrolling through my For You Page on TikTok one night and I suddenly saw a girl dancing to a song while wearing one of the corsets that I designed with Oana. She didn’t tag me or anything; I quite literally just happened to stumble upon it. That was probably one of my proudest moments. I can't even put into words how amazing it feels to be able to create something and see people wearing it in their own, unique way. It's truly one of those ‘Look, mom, I made it’ type of moments.”
Seeing Turcescu’s passion and creativity, Nutu urged her stepdaughter to consider creating her own collection. Turcescu embraced the idea and decided to take the fall semester off from Villanova to bring the idea to fruition. She partnered with a close friend attending fashion school in Romania and designed a fall collection that was released in October under the name “Yoyo’s Closet”—an Instagram shop she originally created to sell some of her old clothing. The Instagram shop already had a following and a name that fit Turcescu’s design, which was distinctively her own.
“I've been going by Yoyo for as long as I can remember, since my first name, Ioana, is one of the most common Romanian names,” said Turcescu. “Therefore, it seemed, somehow, natural that my brand's name should contain my nickname. I chose the word ‘closet’ because it seemed approachable and casual. I didn't want people to feel intimidated by the brand, but rather feel like they're taking a peek in my closet and choosing whatever they like.”
Turcescu is back taking classes this semester with two new titles—entrepreneur and fashion designer—and an incredible amount of lived professional experience few students at this stage of their lives have to their credit.
“What this experience has taught me the most is work ethic, for sure,” Turcescu noted. “When owning a business, you cannot procrastinate. You have to be there for your clients 24/7, no excuses. That's how you build trust. Moreover, I learned so much about the actual process of designing clothes and, what I can surely say, is that people have no idea how much work actually goes into creating clothes. You need to think of everything, from sizing, price and fabric to ads and promo. It's a lot, I'll admit, but it's so worth it!”