Fanning the Fashion Flames

Kristine Turner takes a cue from cultural tradition to launch VIXI

On a hot, balmy day, many will resort to air conditioners and gentle breezes to keep cool.

KRISTINE TURNER, however, relies on a more classic approach to chilling out: hand fans.

“I went to a concert at Greenfield Lake in July,” she recalls. “It was so hot and humid, and there was no breeze that day. I was fanning myself, and when I stopped fanning, I heard someone say, ‘Hey, why did you stop?’ I turned around and had six people behind me, trying to catch the breeze.”

When an attendee asked her where she could purchase her own hand fan, Turner’s fuse was lit.

In June, she launched VIXI Hand Fans, a company that offers authentic, stylish hand fans for any occasion. While the online company is only four months old, business is already booming, with orders coming in as far away as Italy and Australia.

It’s a phenomenal feat for the thirty-two-year-old bartender-turned-entrepreneur. Her obsession with fans, however, started long before this year.

Turner, who is half Filipino, visited the Philippines for a family trip when she was in the fifth grade. She vividly remembers the sweltering heat and the unique choice of clothes and accessories residents used to keep cool.

“I noticed that a lot of women in the Philippines would carry around hand fans, and they’d have the fans with their nice gowns (for special events),” she says. “I started bringing them back to North Carolina and collecting them, and realized I had a huge collection. I could match any outfit with any fan I had.”

When Turner took the step to start a business, she knew authenticity was key. Paper or plastic fans were not what she had in mind. Instead, she sought the delicate, handcrafted fans she collected in her youth and was fortunate to connect with two design teams based in the Philippines and Indonesia. Each fan features a design by Turner and is crafted with local materials such as raw butterfly cocoons or hand-spun pineapple fibers.

The results of this multicontinental collaboration are a slew of beautiful hand fans – ranging from $20 to $50 – that can only be described as a touch of “tropical glamour,” Turner says.

While the fans have a feminine appeal, Turner’s imagination continues to churn out new ideas for her business and growing clientele. She’s already working towards creating fans for sporting events and concerts, and is even planning to expand into a wall decor collaboration with local artist, Clark Hipolito.

There’s plenty of room to grow the VIXI brand, she says. 

When thinking of a name for her company, she was specifically drawn to the Latin word ‘Revixi’, which means ‘to refresh’ or ‘revive.’

“That’s what a hand fan does; it's refreshing you and reviving you,” she says. “So let’s drop the ‘re’ and keep the ‘vixi’ that sounds short sweet and kind of sassy and sexy, like ‘vixen.’”

It turned out that the definition of the Latin word “vixi” meant “to have lived” or “survived.” That definition is a striking testament to Turner’s product, since hand fans have been around since the dawn of time and not just in the Filipino culture. From cavemen fanning their fires to coy women using fans as a flirtation device during the antebellum period, hand fans have proven to not only be useful but culturally relevant, too.

The fan designer hopes to share her appreciation for this must-have accessory through her business.

“I really looked into the history and the past of fans and they’ve been around for ages,” Turner’s says. “I would love to showcase some history, but I’d like to offer it with a twist for today’s society.”

 

To view more of photographer Chris Brehmer's work, go to www.chrisbrehmerphotography.com