Valerie Yoshimura, Ph.D


WEV Client




Santa Barbara, CA 

Year Founded


How it Started

Valerie Yoshimura is a mother, French Literature Ph.D, teacher, and as of 2020, an entrepreneur. Her longstanding love for sparkle, sewing and embroidery combined with a frustration over uncomfortable branded products motivated her to learn new skills at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. Soon after, she launched her business, CUSTOM MATTERS, and said, I decided that it was time for my artistry to go public, so I secured the necessary licenses, focused on finding soft, high-quality garments, and sold my first custom decorated shirt that May!

Work with WEV

She was introduced to WEV when she accompanied a friend to an information session in late 2018. At the time, she had no idea that she was very close to becoming an entrepreneur. Once she took the leap, she started WEV’s Business Planning course. In 2022 she came back for a Forgivable Loan- a program that not only provides funding but also pairs participants with a consultant to assist them along the way.  


Valerie shares, “I am always so inspired when I engage with WEV! I love that WEV believes in women like me who aspire to achieve financial independence and to define success on our own terms. And more than just believing in us, WEV provides the concrete support and training that we need. It’s such a beautiful energy, so supportive and joyful; WEV truly changes lives!”  


She remains connected with WEV through different channels: “I enjoy the WEV newsletters and attend receptions when I can. I LOVE the advisory piece: my Business Advisor creates a safe space for me both to pose questions and to dream big, and my homework after each session keeps me accountable. The coaching is truly a game-changer for me, especially since I am a ‘solopreneur.’” 

What’s Next

For the future of her business, Valerie says “I see CUSTOM MATTERS as the ‘go-to’ for small businesses and non-profits seeking quality merchandise that creates positive associations between their brand and clients. My goal is to be the premier source in Santa Barbara for branded apparel and drinkware that folks reach for day after day; in crafting quality merchandise that people enjoy having in their lives, our clients’ brands will ultimately enjoy longevity in the minds of their clients. I also envision a production facility with 15 embroidery machines, tens of thousands of rhinestones, and a detail-minded staff. Above all, I dream of seeing our garments and drinkware all over town, and that when someone says, We need ‘merch’…, CUSTOM MATTERS will be the first name on their lips! 


“I love that WEV believes in women like me who aspire to achieve financial independence and to define success on our own terms.”

Valerie Yoshimura, Ph.D