Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Lamanna.
Gina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I discovered my niche 12 years ago. An east coast transplant and a mother of two, I am the founder of one of LA’s hidden gems. After 20 plus years as a clothing buyer and fashion stylist, I discovered a void in the retail market. I recognized that women wanted a more personalized and elevated shopping experience.
Traditional retail was failing to address the individuality of each client and their evolving needs. Busy professionals and Mamas needed help with their styling to transition from carpool to the office to special events. They wanted flexibility and one on one attention.
With that goal in mind, and with an impressive roster of stylists, designers, showrooms and loyal clientele, I opened Spool’s doors in May 2006. I created a beautiful space that was set up for privacy and individual appointments while maintaining a relaxing and kid-friendly environment.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
After parting ways with my last shop, I think one of the biggest challenges, in the beginning, was wondering whether my clientele & resources would follow me and be open to a more exclusive shopping experience. I was gratified to see everyone follow and share the enthusiasm for my new concept.
For the first 5 years, I was a one-woman show and did it all. The travel, the buying, merchandising, inventory, accounting, serving clientele – I managed it all solo. It was a lot of work, but it paid off. Prior to having children, I was seeing clients as early as 630 AM in my pajamas and some nights as late as 11 pm. For the early morning visits, clients would arrive with coffee in hand, eager to be styled.
Fast forward 12 years and I am a mama of two with an evolving business. It is definitely a juggling act. My clients rely on my personal eye and attention, meaning that I have to be very careful in how I go about growing the business. I recently battled breast cancer and was less available than I like to be. However, I have been extremely lucky to find an assistant/manager who shares the vision of Spool and runs the store like it’s her own.
Because the business demands a fair amount of travel, I find means of keeping in touch with my clients throughout the day via text and FaceTime. Retail has evolved in so many ways, and we have worked hard to be leaders in this transformation. Whether it’s re-conceiving shopping as a holistic service and experience, or whether it’s offering the level of personalization that we do, we always challenge ourselves to think ahead.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about spool – what should we know?
Spool is an exclusive, appointment-only boutique, tucked away in a garden on the border of Santa Monica and West LA. Spool provides an effortless shopping experience.
We are known for a number of things, including our carefully edited buys. Though I carry many of the same designers as may be found in other stores, my selection criteria are different. I try everything on myself, with a critical eye towards the quality of fabric, functionality and fit. I am also mindful of where things are manufactured. We stay away from trends and curate towards those pieces that are timeless and classic. I focus on many local LA-based designers as well hard to find European brands. I am also excited to support female designers and have the intent by the end of 2018 to sell exclusively woman brands.
I specialize in intimately knowing my client’s lifestyle needs, style preferences and body types, and often buy with specific clients in mind. In this way, I help women look and feel their best and enable them to dress with ease. I maintain an inventory of their purchases and help them fill in wardrobe gaps, keeping their budgets in mind. We also offer closet consultations. I am known to guide women outside their comfort zone. I am somewhat different in that I tend to make myself available to my clients to help guide them with questions and situations such as packing for a getaway, preparing for a special event, etc. Perhaps because of this level of attention, I take on new clients only selectively.
My clients often share images of themselves wearing pieces they have purchased from us or outfits we have created for them. I love hearing how confident they feel after they leave a shopping appointment and how much more fun it has become for them to get dressed. I have been pretty fortunate to have some of my client relationships organically transition into friendships.
In addition to our other unique attributes, my space offers privacy, personal attention and a relaxed atmosphere for women while they shop. Depending on my clients’ preferences, they may have the whole store to themselves for two hours, or choose to come in with friends or have individual pieces sent to their homes.
I have a sizable out of state client base, many whom I have never met personally, and yet I have been able to style them seamlessly. The success of this concept has led me to develop a new, invitation-only membership service (@thestylepass) for clients who wish to receive hand-curated boxes with each new season, style-consultations and lookbooks, and who value the ability to pre-order from their favorite designers. I am taking on new clients for this service slowly, hand-picking those individuals with whom I feel that I can work closely.
We are well known for our events and spotlighting new brands. This summer, we launched an event-driven girl gang concept called @spool_social, providing members with styling sessions, private trunk shows and introductions to female-driven fashion and lifestyle brands. We also go out of our way to donate to causes that we believe in.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The way in which my clients feel about themselves as they move through the world is the most important thing to me, surpassing even profitability as my number one focus.
Though we are unique in our ability to offer personal attention and knowledge of our clients, this unwavering focus on their confidence and lifestyle needs creates a trust and loyalty that is intangible and yet essential to our success.
- Website: shopspool.com
- Phone: 3107286970
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @spool_boutique
- Facebook: @thestylepass
- Twitter: @spool_social
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/spool-los-angeles-3?osq=spool
Emma Fiel & Cloth & Stone Photo, Kim Butan of Cloth & Stone Photo Studio