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Designing Women: #Rising Fashion-The Garment District’s Comeback Featuring Olivia Gossett & Alexandra Wachtel

September 10, 2012

Olivia Gossett (foreground) & Alexandra Wachtel

Today marks the launch of our newest column, “Designing Women.” Every Monday and Wednesday, Damsels in Design will feature designers, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals who are making waves in the design industry. Check back for networking tips, career advice and design news throughout the week. We look forward to reading your comments, stories, and suggestions!

Interview by Jennifer Markas; Photography by Amy Lee

Olivia Gossett is on a mission to turn around the fashion industry with her site,
I Like What You’re Wearing. Based in New York City’s Garment District, Olivia Gossett and her Managing Director, Alexandra Wachtel, are helping young designers rise up the ranks by featuring their collections online in high-style editorial spreads where viewers can purchase the garments directly from the site. Damsels in Design caught Olivia in between photo shoots to learn more about her adventures in design and entrepreneurship.

DID: What were you doing before Íaunching ILWYW? How and why did you start ILWYW? What was your “aha!” moment?
OG: I  was working as a freelance copywriter, photographer and stylist in Los Angeles before launching ILWYW. The site actually began as a blog I launched in college and continued afterward because it gained a strong following — and I loved doing it. ILWYW, even as the original blog, was always about rising fashion. With the blog, it was more about local rising fashion, but rising nonetheless! And, the aha moment? It came when I launched this small sales program through the blog called, “Ten for Ten”, where we would sell 10 items from 10 designers for 10 days — the original flash sale! People, both designer and consumer, really reacted to the idea of being able to buy the styles I was talking about on the blog, right off the content!

DID: As an entrepreneur, how do you manage your time? Have you adopted rituals to get you through the day?
OG: Whenever I’m not working, it’s because something is getting in the way of work. It’s amazing how your outlook on time spent shifts when you are running after a goal. One thing I had to learn quickly was that you can’t do it all. So, knowing when, and how to delegate tasks with your team, even if it’s just two people, makes a world of difference. I do have a ritual of needing to be the first one in the office every day. Getting in an hour or so before everyone else gives me some time to get the busy work done, so I can focus on bigger picture ideas and answering questions throughout the day.

DID: Where does your motivation come from? What drives your passion? How do you measure success?
OG: The deeper I dig into the problems within the fashion industry, the more things I uncover that I disagree with and would like to offer alternatives to. Fashion is a beautiful thing, but the industry is a little dirty. When we can offer a brand new designer to a customer, inspire someone through an editorial, or help a designer reach their next season — this drives me and how I measure our success, because this is fashion as it should be. Results will always make you want more results.

Olivia Gossett and Alexandra Wachtel
Photography by Amy Lee

DID: Working in fashion definitely has its perks and freedom for dress. How do
you dress for client meetings? Do you have a set office style? What advice can you share for first-time entrepreneurs about dressing for success in front of investors or sponsors?
OG: Would you trust you? It’s a question I ask myself when getting dressed in the morning. Whether I’m meeting with someone or not, because as the face of a company and movement you ALWAYS need to be dressed to represent — you never know who you’re going to meet. But, being in fashion, trying to be taken seriously by the business world, being a woman, and being relatively young all at the same time — outfitting can be tricky. Just make sure to dress in your own personal style, with hints of strength and confidence, and professionalism–those are my go-to’s.

DID: If you could travel back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
OG: Get out more. It can be easy getting sucked in to working late and missing out on events or experiences that are not directly related to your goal or business. But, some of the best relationships for my business have been made when and where I least expect it.

DID: Name three skills that helped get you where you are today.
OG: Strength – I’m not doing this because it’s easy. Always learning — sponges and I have a lot in common nowadays. I don’t think I open up a book, chat with someone or do anything without trying to learn something. Trusting myself— trust your instincts. It’s actually something I need to do more of. Being younger, I sometimes let others input sway me, only to realize that my instincts were the way to go.

DID: How do you boost your confidence at work?
OG: I can always tell when someone has caught the ILWYW or Rising Fashion bug. They get excited about what we’re doing and want to get involved. When I’m feeling unsure of it all, I think about these people.

DID: What are the advantages of working as a team? Do you push each other in different ways?
OG: Having a checks and balance system is so important when venturing into something new. What we’re doing has not been done before exactly, so if you’re the only one taking the next step in unchartered territory, it can be a little, well, scary! Having someone there to step with you makes it easier to take the leap. Or to know when to step in a different direction.

DID: If there is one thing you could change about the fashion industry what would it be?
OG: Oh man. This is the big question. Brand loyalty is a beautiful thing, but brand blinding is not. I can’t tell you how many times we get people saying, “How can they charge that for that suit? It’s not like it’s a Prada suit!” The problem with this outlook on fashion is that it’s not about true quality, but perceived quality. I just want everyone to know that they can have a say, a choice in what’s good, instead of advertisements, paid placements in publications, and red carpets telling them what is.

DID: Where do you picture yourself one year from now?
OG: We’re working on becoming a bigger part of rising fashion as a whole, not just publishing and selling it. We’re getting our hands dirty with the designers and going through the motions with them through marketing, branding, sales and business insights. It’s a tough job for their small teams, and our slightly bigger one can be of great help!

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 10, 2012 2:35 pm

    I love Olivia’s answer to what she would change about the fashion industry. A quick wander through Henri Bendel or Bergdorf’s opens your eyes to an unspoken uniform. Without a Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag hanging off your arm, you look automatically out of place! Although perhaps this has nothing to do with quality, it’s more like a status symbol or badge of where one fits in. There are many incredibly beautiful products and clothing by unknown designers, that are high quality and individual. If they make your heart sing the price tag is totally worth it.

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