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Two Of A Kind

“Love seeing African ladies killing it in the world of entrepreneurship! Can’t wait to see more from you.” “I can’t even begin to say how inspired I am by you two! Your dedication and hardwork as black women is magical.” “You two are amazing, post more and be seen! Everyone needs to see this level [...]
Jeni Ruisch



“Love seeing African ladies killing it in the world of entrepreneurship! Can’t wait to see more from you.”

“I can’t even begin to say how inspired I am by you two! Your dedication and hardwork as black women is magical.”

“You two are amazing, post more and be seen! Everyone needs to see this level of style, sophistication, and elegance!”

“You guys are really showing the world that women can climb the ranks of success too. Keep up the good work!”

These are some of the hundreds of comments that flood the Yusuf’s Instagram page daily. Many of them are from young girls who have become inspired by Nasteha and Nuni Yusuf’s hard work and dedication to their love of fashion. With nearly 30,000 followers on their instagram page alone, the Yusuf’s lifestyle and love for fashion is making an impact not only on the fashion scene of the capital city, but on their followers worldwide.

Through Columbus-based eyes, we can recognize enough familiar scenes in their daily posts to know that they’re locals. But with the way they’ve converted their Instagram presence into a sophisticated globally-conscious fashion and lifestyle brand, it’d be hard to tell that their address isn’t outside the 614.

And technically, born in Somalia and raised in and Canada, their passports have been stamped more than a few times.

Not twins, but certainly a package deal, the sisters answer questions frequently in a collective “we.” The two youngest of eight children now have created a multi-tiered presence in the style and beauty arena, sharing their own collections of jewelry (modeled after their mother, who was a gold dealer), as well as their travels, trend suggestions, and adventures via fun, fast-paced YouTube videos that go beyond just the standard brand-by-numbers fare you see in the modern blogosphere.

They style. They model. They shop. They sell.

But they haven’t always led a charmed existence. The Yusuf family escaped Somalia during the civil war when the sisters were four and seven. Their father, in danger because of his position in the government, fled alone to Canada, thinking the conflict would blow over and he could soon return to his family. But as war broke out, the remaining family members fled to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they stayed for two years. Their father was finally able
to bring them to Toronto, where the family was reunited.

“To say we feel grateful is an under-statement. We went through a lot during our escape and we’re just happy to be alive to talk about it.”

They settled in Columbus, where their husbands are from, and are taking the city by colorful storm. Their fashion and lifestyle blog developed as a way to chronicle their creativity and growth as women while sharing their global perspective on personal style, beauty and travels. YCollections is an ecommerce site that offers everyday jewelry for the bold woman. Their vivid fashion choices resound with people of all ages and from all backgrounds. They see fashion as a means of self-expression, with Nasteha describing her style as “bold, edgy, and borderline boyish.” Nuni says hers is “fun, feminine, and classic.” They speak to a large audience and range of fashionistas betwixt the two.

With all their world traveling, the two have opened their hearts to the heart of it all.

“Out of every other city we’ve visited and lived in the past, Columbus not only provides the best cost of living but it also has the most opportunities. We feel like since this city is growing, we have the potential to grow personally as well as professionally.”

And grow, they do. The Yusuf’s brand continues to spread out across social media, their online store continues to grow, and now with their brick-and-mortar location on the south side, they are making their talents available as content producers and consultants for other
local businesses.

Through the turmoil they have withstood in their lives, the Yusuf sisters have harnessed their momentum, and together, built a brand that seems poised to become an empire. Never fearing evolution, the sisters look forward to a future bright as the patterns they wear.

“The biggest thing is change. We love that fashion changes from season to season. We love that with each era comes a new look. We always saw this as a new opportunity to reinvent yourself. Change is good. Especially when it comes to fashion.”

Fashion Secrets


A good tailor can do wonders for you.


Don’t be restricted to buying a specific size. You can make any size work for you with a little bit of imagination.

Bolder is Better


Developing your own style. It’s great to draw inspiration from others. But it’s super important to make it your own by focusing on elements like what works for your body type.


The easiest way to implement a little bit of boldness is to mix prints and patterns. We find that by doing this you instantly exude confidence and stand out at all times.

Fashion Icons


I appreciate timeless and classic pieces. I like to collect pieces that I can picture myself wearing at any age. When I am 90 years old, I want to look back at my style evolution, and I want to still be excited about the outfits from my past. I admire Coco Chanel because her style is truly timeless. Her clothes are still modern today.


I don’t really have a fashion icon but I do have a type of woman I aspire to be. It’s usually an older woman. A confident, colorful woman such as Iris Apfel, Daphne Selfe, and Giovanna Battaglia.

Life Motto


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou


“I can, and I will.”

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Penzone shares: what to expect with salons

Julian Foglietti



With the closing of Hair Salons on March 18th, buzz cuts and bowl cuts have made an appearance on the heads of Ohioans, young and old. Luckily for those desperate for a do, Dewine has announced that hair salons may begin to reopen on May 15th. To guide us through the transition, I spoke with Debbie Penzone, President and CEO of Penzone Salons, about serving on the Governor's salon advisory board, dealing with the business effect of the virus, and what we can expect from hair salons moving forward. 

I understand that you served as the chair of the Governor's committee board regarding reopening salons. What did you do in that role? 

On the committee, my role was pulling from my experience as a cosmetologist and business owner to assemble a group of individuals that represent our business in Ohio. We had everyone from 10 person salons to one person barbershops. braiding salons and nail salons, to schools and three health commissioners. From there, the job was building an agenda and listening to members while consulting health professionals on how to expand upon existing sanitation guidelines.  The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology has been enforcing for years. Beyond that, it was a lot of keeping time, guiding the conversations, gathering information and reporting it.  We also wanted to build plans if something did happen in a salon, and make sure that everyone could abide by these practices so we can remain safe and open.

In what ways has the virus caused you to rethink the way salons will function moving forward?

One of the things we did was go through a COVID specific certification process with Barbicide, which produces a lot of the sanitation products already used in salons and barber shops. A lot of people don’t realize that in the Ohio Administrative Code, there are very specific sanitation guidelines that you have to follow when you get your license, and there is a major component of constantly learning new sanitation practices all the time. The main difference you’ll see is us taking that sanitation to the next level: social distancing between booths, or barriers put in place, as well as reduced capacities in many salons. There will be more emphasis on reducing contact points and sanitizing things like doorknobs and counters as well. The biggest change will be the way we interact with our clients. We're a very emotional industry. We’re huggers, and we’re very close with the people we work with. Our clients are like family to us, so having to distance ourselves and not engage in that way will be different. 

What has been the greatest challenge to overcome over the past months? 

It’s really been adapting to the constant change we're all facing. We might spend all this energy sharing with our team new knowledge, but the next week it will change again. It’s been difficult to coordinate and continue to train everyone and update them with the new practices, as well as provide support for them while we're all distanced from each other. We're all scared right now, and it’s important to not lose our community so we can give each other confidence in the direction we’re heading in.

What have you witnessed over the past few months that gave you hope?

The biggest hope for me was serving on this committee. I’ve always felt so strong about our industry, so bringing so many people together and supporting one another during this difficult time. This whole thing has really brought us together as an industry, and shown that we can work together to support each other and raise each other up. There's enough clients for everybody, and it’s beautiful to see the incredible diversity of salons and see us all coming together to work with one another.

Are you worried about customers returning?

We’ve opened our booking today, but were not opening on the 15th, because we want to have a few days to go over the new procedures with our teams before we start to bring clients in. Every salon will only be operating at 50% capacity, and then we’re extending the hours to make sure everyone has the same hours they used to, and some of them are already booked out to July.

What would you say to ease the concerns of customers?

Really that we’re regulated by the state board and have so many sanitation practices in place. We have printouts posted showing the guidelines for clients that come to the stores, and for those who are high-risk, we are opening up early so they can be the first people to come in right after the salon is sanitized. What's important to remember about salons is that the regulators randomly check our spaces to make sure we're complying, and as we build on regulations, these checks are going to be taken to the next level. 

As a hairstylist, do you see any hairstyle trends emerging from this?

I definitely think there's gonna be a boom for bobs and pixie cuts, ‘cause people are just done. Maybe some bold colors, because everyone just wants to come out and say, “I’m back, baby.” Maybe just a little more attitude with the cuts people are getting.

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Mask on: Local businesses offering fashionable, functional face masks

Mike Thomas



Since their debut last week, our stylish face masks (made with care by an enterprising mother/daughter duo in Lewis Center) have been flying off the digital shelves in our online store. Since 100% of the sales of these masks benefits Service!, a relief effort working to eliminate hunger among restaurant industry workers and families, your purchases have made a real difference while doing your part to maintain personal and public health. [EDIT: As of April 28, we're all sold out of masks. So far, 614NOW readers have raised $2,080 for Service!]

As we prepare for the reopening of some public spaces next month, face masks are sure to remain a common sight. It comes as no surprise that some of Columbus' top brands have joined the mask game, providing their own lines of stylish and functional PPE for this strange new age we're all living in.

Homage, the city's homegrown fashion leader, has repurposed the famously soft materials used to produce its t-shirts into a nifty 3-layer mask, available for purchase on its online store.

Retailing at $9.00/per individual mask, 3 masks for for $24, or 5 for $35, one dollar from every Homage mask purchased will go to

Likewise, Columbus-based retailer Where I'm From has produced their own line of cloth masks. Comfortable, machine-washable, and 100% made in the USA, Where I'm From's masks are made of a tri-blend material. Check these out in a variety of colors at the company's online store.

Not to be outdone, Seventh Son Brewing has partnered with Positive Negative Press on their own line of functional branded masks. These masks, available in three attractive styles, are provided as a free gift to anyone who places a delivery order with Seventh Son this week (while supplies last).

Heard of any other good masks you think we should know about? Whether they're supporting a cause, or just in it for the #fashion, give your favorite purveyors of face-worn couture a shout out in the comments.

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Columbus native to appear on premiere of ‘Making the Cut’




Series debuts tonight, March 27 on Amazon Prime

Kent State School of Fashion alumni, Joshua Hupper and Will Riddle, will both be featured contestants on the new series hosted and produced by fashion gurus, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. Hupper, a 2004 alumnus, and Riddle, a 2013 alumnus, both majored in fashion design and have had significant roles in the industry since graduating. They were two of just 12 contestants from all over the globe to be featured on the 10-episode series.

Since graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, Hupper resides in Shanghai, China, where he founded the brand BABYGHOST, a successful e-commerce fashion brand based in China. His designs have been featured in Vogue and on runways around the world. His line features youthful, feminine ready-to-wear fashions for the “mischievous girl.” Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hupper’s talents were shaped by his artistic upbringing and his past experiences in internships with Diane Von Furstenburg and Thakoon.

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