When Carla Kloosterhuis opened her store in the Beach neighbourhood in 2003, she dreamed about a niche for new and hot Euro labels.
Yoka offers classic waterfront style with a European twist. It’s an artful and easy mantra that agrees with stylish Beachers, she says.
"style in Holland is about individuality, everyone really wants to stand out and look different," she says. Kloosterhuis wanted to bring the classic and practical sensibility that the Dutch have towards everyday fashions. There, urbanities wear mostly casual clothes, but with a distinct twist and exceptional quality.
For Kloosterhuis, Yoka was an extension of her passion for fashion. Her mother is an experienced fashion retailer with two clothing store, and her sister another, all in Groningen, The Netherlands.
In her early teenage years, Kloosterhuis ordered with her mother, helping with buying and learning the foundations of retail buying and management, scouring top global trade shows for quality items in the family store.
YOKA originally opened in September 2001, as a cart in Oakville Place Mall, Oakville, Ontario, before opening the beach location in Toronto 2003. The one-size-fits-all knits Kloosterhuis imported from Amsterdam, were an instant hit for women of all shapes and sizes, and it was clear from the beginning that YOKA would outgrow it’s cart in the mall pretty soon!
YOKA’s collections have grown over the years, adding a full men’s section in 2005, and a footwear section in 2009. While YOKA specializes in selling lines from the Netherlands, Kloosterhuis is also a proud supporter of the Canadian fashion industry, with over 10 independent lines out of Montreal. "Our Canadian lines give the collections a crafty and one-of-a-kind feel which mixes well with our Euro lines" she says.
Yoka is also an importer of fine European fashions and brings in transitional immediates every few weeks to blend with the collections.