WEDNESDAY WITH — GABRIELLA PELLETIER
What was your relationship to fashion growing up?
My relationship with fashion growing up has always been intertwined with my personal identity. I really gravitated toward it from a young age, specifically as a baby and really manifested that interest as I got older. My earliest memory was when I was 6 or maybe 8 years old and I would sketch all the time in these plain notebooks my mom would buy for me to keep me busy. I would sketch outfits and be very specific with labeling each piece of the outfit I sketched. For example, if I sketched a top, skirt, and shoes I would label each item and describe exactly the color or if there was a pattern etc and my mom still has these notebooks as she calls them "my earliest work". Fashion was something that was really innate to me especially as an only child because I learned early on that what I wear affects how I feel and how I navigate the world. Fashion is really intimate and like food, everyone has their own relationship to it and I really delved into it because it was the one thing that was totally mine, my identity that I could be whoever I wanted and that gave me a lot of confidence. I would always pick out my own clothes and I would even organize and clean out close family friends closets! I would go through my moms closet and I either take things from her, make outfits for her for the week or just completely throw away anything I didn't think was "chic". Anytime I had a sleepover with a friend at her house I would clean their room, clean their closet and set up outfits for her to wear Monday through Friday. I loved it!
How did you first get into fashion? What drew you to it originally?
I was always interested in fashion—I would always dress up for school (yes, I was that girl) and would constantly be on Tumblr searching for new fashion inspiration. I was always drawn to fashion because it was creatively freeing—you could reflect your mood or your personality in whatever outfit you wore that day. It can truly be a way to artistically express yourself.
I would collect fashion magazines like Vogue, Harpers Bazaar etc like it was my job at a very young age and literally study them, read the articles, rip out the pages and take notes then I would watch this show on the Style Network that is no longer running called "The Look For Less" hosted by Elisabeth Hasselbeck which essentially was a challenge show to get runway looks on a budget and that really resonated with me because I was raised by a single mother so growing up we never had much money to spend frivolously on shopping so my mom and I would go thrifting a lot and go to discount stores like Ross. I even saved my lunch money for a week or two when I was in fourth grade just so I could have my "own money" for the next time we went thrifting. My mom recalls me pulling out a wad of 30 one dollar bills and just being in shock like Gabby?! Where did you get that money? And I told her I saved my lunch money that you gave me every day and don't worry mom my friends would give me the things on their lunch plate they didn't like. My mom remembers saying to herself that she needed to increase my budget so I didn't do that again. Something we laugh about looking back, she always tried to make little things fun for me. We did the best we could with what we had but I learned how to shop smart with intention rather than impulse because she would always give me a budget and I had to stick within the amount she gave me or else I couldn’t get anything the next time we went so I learned how to make thoughtful decisions based on how much I like the item, how much wear I will get out of it and I always asked myself will I like this the same way in 6 months or a year? Fast forward to now I shop the same way with the same thoughtful intent and don’t spend my hard earned money on just anything. I’m very careful and cautious when it comes to spending money on clothes because there is always a trend but it's about how you can work in that trend to your wardrobe in the long run and for me I’ve created a capsule wardrobe with all of the essential pieces I don’t feel the need for newness all the time.
What were your first steps towards building a career in the industry?
My dream was always to work in the fashion industry but I knew I wanted to be more on the business side of things instead of a traditional designer role. For a long time, I actually wanted to work in PR and marketing like so many others because I’m very goal oriented and like bringing people/things together to see results and creating partnerships.
Growing up as an only child I had a lot of time alone and all I wanted to do when I got older was work to make my own money and spend my alone time the way I wanted and for me, I found so much freedom and self-appreciation in working. I started working at the age of 14 in retail as a sales associate for many years and at 17 I had two retail jobs as a store manager and would alternate each job every other day while still in high school. I’m a hard worker and I never related with my peers in school so I kept my nose down and did what I had to do so I could get half days just so I could go to work every day. I have tunnel vision so when I want something in life it's all or nothing for me. I practice that in every aspect of my life. For example, while I was in high school I worked two jobs to not only support my mom but also be able to move cities for college. I wanted to be able to start over in a new place without any financial reasons holding me back.
Tell us about how you got involved with Lisa Say Gah.
I first “met” Lisa on Instagram as I followed her when she was working at Nasty Gal as a buyer and that is a job that I always found really intriguing so it was really cool to see someone I admired and the little bits and pieces of her life and her work behind the scenes on Instagram. Time went on and I noticed that her profile in the “about me” section changed from LA to LA/SF and I thought to myself what is she doing in San Francisco?! So I wrote a scaled down cover letter in my notes section on my iPhone and screenshot it then sent it to Lisa on Instagram via DM asking I can buy her a cup of coffee and meet with me for an informative interview about breaking into the fashion industry and her experience because fashion is a tough industry to break into. Lisa was incredibly receptive and told me to pick the cafe and a week later we met! After the meeting, I was blown away from Lisa’s advice as she is incredibly smart and wise with years of numerous industry experience behind her.
A few months later Lisa emailed me asking if I would be interested in modeling for a new “project” she was doing and I, of course, said yes even though if she asked me to mop her floors I would still say yes! During the shoot, she explained to me that she is opening a new online store called “ Lisa Says Gah” and was showing me the first round of merchandise she had ready to launch with. While we were shooting she said, she had to go to “LA for market” and I had just taken a buying class the previous semester so I asked her if she would be open to the idea of me shadowing her while she was in LA going to her showroom appointments and that I would pay my way and meet her in LA! Lisa said “yeah of course!” and a few weeks later I found myself in LA eating avocado toast with Lisa at the Ace Hotel in DTLA and from there we took on the day going to appointments where I had my notebook in hand to take notes on things we saw and the collections. While we were going to the appointments she really let me step in and ask questions and do some of the talking and pulling pieces to practice and gain first-hand experience. The LA trip was such an insightful first look for me at what it means to be a buyer and that each decision is incredibly thoughtful especially with Lisa’s ethos for Lisa Says Gah.
A few days after LA I met with Lisa to go over our notes and get coffee where she asked me if I would be interested in an internship and obviously at that point, my heart was bursting and said yes! I was in school and had a part-time job but made time with Lisa at least two to three times a week where she had me prepping product for the shop and entering items into the database, emailing with vendors and getting ready for the Lisa Says Gah launch party and pop-up shop! I went from intern to part-time assistant buyer within months and now full-time with the company! Overall Lisa has really taken me under her wing and has and continues to be such a big inspiration and mentor in my life! I can’t thank her enough for the patience, opportunity, and experience she has and continues to give me.
In your opinion, who is the GAH girl?
I don’t think there is one person who most encapsulates the Lisa Says Gah girl because we are a company that is built by women for women who are multi-faceted. She is thoughtful, hardworking, passionate, diverse, creative, fun and feminine living her best life! On our blog every Monday we feature a “Muse Monday” which are women who are inspiring self-starters working in a creative or interesting field that is ambitious and overall just a cool girl that really shares the same vision as Lisa Says Gah and a girl we would love to get coffee with so we can pick her brain! She isn’t one girl but a million goal oriented women in one.
As an assistant buyer, what does your day-to-day look like?
As assistant buyer and brand partnerships coordinator include partnering with vendors, ensuring timely & quality deliveries, communicating with vendors to manage the buying process, identifying problems and proposing solutions to our team and vendors we work with to provide selling productivity. I work with my team on recognizing and reacting to trends within our current categories to drive sales and achieve margin plans along with monitoring industry trends and attend buying markets. As an assistant buyer, I have to negotiate terms and maintain follow through on return to vendor cases if something isn’t working out along with being responsible for creating and placing purchase orders and reorder entries. To name a few things, ha!
What is your favorite part of buying trips?
My favorite part of buying trips is getting to see our vendors who I spend so much time emailing with on a daily/weekly basis but getting to see them and catch up with them in real life is so important! Teamwork makes the dream work and fostering supportive, positive relationships is imperative to both Lisa Says Gah’s success, my success and also the vendor’s success. Sometimes when I go to market to meet with a vendor that means meeting them for the very first time! It’s like a first date without the scaries. The best way I can describe it is like when you go back to school after summer break and seeing your friends again and there is just this overwhelming excitement to catch up with them on a personal and professional level but also gush about the latest collection and fall in love with the brand all over again. My second favorite part of buying trips is just the pure gratitude I have while running around the city and being able to experience something so unique that not many people get to have. I’m really thankful for Lisa’s trust and support to send me to NYC for buying trips because those trips are so imperative for the future success of both parties involved.
Where do you turn to find inspiration for the upcoming seasons? How do you contextualize and discover trends?
I find most of my inspiration from looking back meaning through film like the French New Wave with films directed by François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, Alain Resnais, and Louis Malle. I’m really inspired by the use of color and setting which would influence the clothing and these witty attitudes in the characters for the time. Inspiration is truly everywhere and I’m always looking around me to see something new. My eyes are always moving and of course, social media is a huge influence because we are exposed to the world with social media so just getting lost in this rabbit hole of Instagram or blogs can be really inspiring for a new approach on future buys.
Who are some of your favorite designers and why?
Some of my favorite designers to name only a few are Saks Potts, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Jacquemus, Paloma Wool, Isabel Marant, Chloe, and Old Celine because I feel these designers have this perfect balance of risk-taking fun in terms of color choice, material, and silhouettes. These designers truly design clothes that women actually want to wear instead of what society thinks women should be wearing. There is this sense of every woman in the designs such as she’s strong, serious and goal oriented but also she’s fun, loves life and doesn’t take herself too seriously but also wants to actually function in the garments she puts on.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is really feminine yet practical. I’m really influenced by film from the 1940s to the 1960s but also from my environments and since that is always changing my style never stops evolving. I’m always on the go so I need to wear clothes that actually function. For example, if something has pockets they better be real pockets that I can put my hands in or a zipper that I can actually zip and adjust or if it's a mule I better be able to run around in them without my feet sliding out every two seconds. It’s really important for me to wear things that are comfortable since I’m always running around and I don’t feel like you should force yourself to wear something for the sake of wearing it if it doesn't actually do its job.
When it comes to getting dressed I’m very petite, I’m only 5’3 and over the years I’ve gotten to know what works for me and my body and knowing yourself, your body is really important when it comes to getting dressed because what you wear and how it looks and feels on you is a deal breaker for how you might feel about yourself throughout the day. You want to go through your day feeling confident, not uncomfortable.
What would you do, see or learn if you had more time?
I would travel!! I dream of the day I don't have the burden of student loans to just travel and really invest my time in learning another language.
How would your best friend describe you?
Compassionate, empathic, Hard working, Witty and a natural leader from the lips of my best friend Kelsey.
What’re your plans this weekend?
My annual Saturday sleep in, grab a coffee and some museum hopping with a good friend.