Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriela Garcia Olivo.
Hi Gabriela, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was born in Ecuador and moved to Los Angeles when I was eight years old with my parents. The lack of opportunities in Ecuador and the possibility that I would have a better future in the US convinced my parents to move. Since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of being a fashion designer and having my own clothing brand. As I grew older, my interest in fashion continued so much that my first job was in retail, working as a sales associate. I considered attending fashion school but opted for a business degree. After college, I got a job as a technical support person and switched my focus to tech. I worked my way up and eventually became a product manager. I was happy with my professional life and fulfilled, but I wanted to do more.
My dream of being a fashion designer started to resurface. Given that I had a stable job and plenty of free time, I felt it was the right time to pursue it. So, in August of 2018, I started thinking about what brand I wanted to create and how I would do it. In 2019 I designed my first collection and started the development work for it in early 2020. It was exciting, yet I encountered obstacles along the way. So when the pandemic hit, I decided it was best to put my dream on hold. However, at the beginning of this year, I felt a newfound motivation to resume working on my brand. Since then, I have been working on it nonstop and working my full-time job. This year has been the most that I worked. Yet it is the most fulfilled I have ever felt since I am working on a dream of mine. I am proud and happy to say that my brand, Gabriela Michele, will launch on August 16, 2022.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Ha! No, it has not. Launching a clothing brand on your own and starting a business without previous experience is hard. It’s insane. There is a huge learning curve and so many aspects that you don’t realize you need to worry about until you’re doing the work. I often do so much business and administrative work that I don’t love doing. Still, it is necessary for the business aspect of the brand. In this sense, launching a business is doing many things you don’t want to do, to do the things you want to do.
Also, starting a clothing brand is costly and requires much upfront investment. It is the main reason it has taken me years to get it off the ground, as I needed to save up for it. Investing upfront in my ideas and brand has been the scariest part of it all. Spending all this money upfront without knowing if you will succeed is nerve-wracking. There are moments when doubt and fear get the best of me. What grounds me in those moments is that I believe in what I am creating, in my designs.
Starting a clothing brand is a lot of work, and the stress and pressure of taking such a risk can be a lot. And with all the challenges involved, it can be overwhelming quickly. However, believing in yourself and your ideas is essential, so you don’t give up. Also, having a support system that encourages and checks in on you makes a difference.
Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Gabriela Michele?
Gabriela Michele is a contemporary, sustainable clothing brand. I design elegant, feminine, and timeless linen dresses that are ideal for any occasion. The inspiration for my designs comes from the fashion of the 1930s to the 1950s. I love the emphasis on clothes construction, tailoring, and the hourglass silhouette back then. So I’ve tried to capture these details in my designs.
My dresses are effortlessly elegant and colorful, made with 100% linen and 100% cotton. They are manufactured locally in Los Angeles by a small company that treats and compensates its workers fairly.
I am proud of the details of each design, the emphasis on quality and using only natural fabrics, producing locally, and giving back. All these characteristics set my brand apart. Gabriela Michele is about making beautiful quality clothing responsibly and giving back.
Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Setting out to launch Gabriela Michele is the biggest risk I have taken, but it’s the best one because I see it as betting on myself.
I consider myself to be a calculated risk taker. I like to know as much as possible before making a decision. Now, all of that gets thrown out the window when launching a brand for the first time. I don’t know how well the brand will do, but I still have to make decisions about it daily. I have spent so much time, work, and effort launching my brand without knowing if it will be successful. I am taking a risk, and I hope it pays off.