Jean was born in South Korea. After growing up in LA, she arrived in New York City to attend F.I.T. in 1990.

Her first collection of dresses, which were specifically developed for high end specialty retailers, graced the likes of Barneys New York, LA and Japan, Neiman Marcus, Louis Boston, Fred Segal, and Harvey Nichols. In December 2001, Jean Yu launched her signature collection of silk lingerie with the opening of 37=1, her free standing retail store and showroom in Soho. The jewel-like store with its in-house atelier serves as showcase, office and work shop for Jean Yu inc. The last decade has seen a collection of accolades and exhibit inclusions celebrating Jean's designs. In 1999, Jean was recognized with the Innovator Design Award from Cotton Incorporated; in 2005, she was a CDFA finalist; and in 2007, she was honored with Designer of the Year by Avenue L/ Lotte, Seoul Korea. In 2005, Jean was included in the FIT museum's permanent collection, and in 2007, her designs were showcased internationally in a New York Fashion Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Most recently in 2009, her designs are incorporated into an exhibition aptly named "American Beauty" to celebrate innovative American designers at the F.I.T museum - the first of its kind.