Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in Switzerland to a French father and American mother. One of nine children, I spent most of my childhood in the US. I have a very international background, having traveled, and lived all over the world. I spent five years in China as a teenager, where I learned how to speak Chinese, and later worked in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing (where I met my husband), and London before moving to Belarus, my husband’s home country. We now divide our time between France and Belarus.
When and why did you decide to launch your fashion brand?
When I was living in China, I became hyper-aware of the detrimental environmental impact that production and manufacturing have on our planet. I began looking into the operations of clothing companies in detail. I discovered that in many cases, excellent quality fabrics used by high-end fashion houses are produced in excess and consequently end up in landfills or incinerated; this beautiful and unspoiled fabric is known as deadstock.
I did not want to add to the fashion industry’s careless consumption model, so it was at that point that I decided that Gaâla’s ethos would be to design timeless pieces made from repurposing beautiful and diverse deadstock fabrics.
What do you love about being a fashion designer?
Design inspiration is everywhere and in everything. I love the creative side of dreaming up designs and the practical side of deciding which fabric might work with them. It inspires me to see women wearing the clothes I design and feeling confident and beautiful.
What is fashion for you?
Honestly, I’ve never cared much for the word fashion as it has become synonymous with trendy; instead, if I had to summarize what style means to me in a few words, it would be timeless, simplicity, classic, and quality.
What sets your brand apart from other designers? What makes you unique?
I believe Gaâla is unique in that we combine time-honored silhouettes with contemporary designs for the modern woman. Nowadays, it's hard to find vintage-inspired clothing that's not considered "costume." Our customers don't need to choose between being stylish and timeless; our collections can be both.
When you first started in the fashion industry, what were your biggest challenges and obstacles?
I would say fabric sourcing and production. Finding the right connections and places to source high-quality luxurious fabric remnants to repurpose them for our collections can be very challenging.
Secondly, finding the right team to bring to life the designs - many of our fabrics are not easy to work with; for example, silk takes a very high level of skill and years of experience, especially as we source some of the world’s finest silks from surplus stock. We were tasked with the challenging job of finding the most skilled tailors who could achieve the quality we were after, and luckily we found them.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before starting your brand, what would it be?
That it is going to be 100 times more work than I ever thought it could be, but also, equally as rewarding.
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting?
We didn't expect the rapid growth and increase in sales; therefore, we didn't plan enough for the influx of orders and our production capacity. Future planning is essential and often lacking in new businesses.
What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your line?
I would say the fear of not making it, of failure, I had no idea what to expect when I first started.
How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
Confident, elegant, and comfortable. Gaâla's purpose is to help women create capsule wardrobes with quality garments that they will cherish for years to come.
There's so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers, who are just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
Starting and running a fashion brand is a lot of hard work, and it's also a market with heavy competition. Find what will set your business apart from others long-term and capitalize on it. It's a very challenging business but is at the same time a rewarding and fulfilling journey.
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