Profile: Eco-Revolution Designer TK Yilma


TK Yilma, born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has always had a passion for sketching, but it wasn’t until Yilma moved to America in 2006 that he got serious about his leisurely pursuits. His first design came to fruition in last year’s Trashion Fashion—a couture black and white loofah dress— earning him fourth place. TK talks to Helium Magazine about his passion for fashion, his inspiring work pattern, and his infatuation with Beyonce.

Helium Magazine: Your first dress was with Fashion Trashion, what was that like?

TK Yilma: At first I was really hesitant to try out. I thought it was a joke because I didn’t know how to sew. When I won fourth place, that moment really flipped the chords of my fashion of being a fantasy into a reality. I was so happy that I actually made a dress and that I got applauded. It was the fact that it was real and showed that if you really put effort into what you want, something good comes out of it. That was really the starting point of my career.

HM: What gets your creative juices flowing lately?

Yilma: Honestly I don’t have those heartfelt stories that other designers have about creativity or inspiration, but I think overall, music plays a big role. I’m a huge fan of Beyonce. When I hear music and songs like “Diva” and other Beyonce songs, I just visualize something and go after it.

HM: What’s in store for Eco-Revolution?

Yilma: I’m bringing my loofah dress from Trashion Fashion. I’m also making this dress out of a light burgundy-colored rice bag. Most realistically, I will be shattering CDs and superglewing the pieces to the top half of the dress so that it looks like little gems reflecting off.

HM: How do you work the best?

Yilma: I have this weird drive where I could be up at two in the morning exhausted, and if I feel the sketch and I am working on it, at that point I don’t stop; I can go on for pages. The most exciting part on my half is seeing that project complete. Things never go according to what I envision it to be, something always goes wrong, which always works for the better.

HM: How do you feel about passing the message of using recycled clothes for fashion?

Yilma: For the obvious reasons to protect the environment and not being so wasteful, but also sending the bigger message to people that it doesn’t have to be the most expensive brands that we have to wear. Even literally, trash can be elegant.  I also want to get rid of the stigma that you have to go to the expensive stores to get a good look. If you can make trash look that good, it’s about being aware.


Story by Amanda Holst

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