Dechel McKillian, founder of GALERIE.LA
01 Apr 2018
Founder: Dechel McKillian
Business Name: GALERIE.LA
Equallet Business Page: GALERIE.LA business page on equallet
Tells Us About Your Business: GALERIE.LA is a the premier retail destination for conscious women who love fashion. We thoughtfully curate the finest selection of sustainable fashion from emerging brands worldwide. Our ethical concept shop is now open online and at Row DTLA.
Founder's Journey: I’ve always had an innate sense of style and love for clothing. However, I never thought about fashion as a career possibility while growing up. I went to UCLA, majored in Psychobiology and was on-track to become a doctor. I took a “break” like most students applying to medical school and worked at a clothing boutique where I learned the ins and outs of running a retail store, simultaneously taking a fashion class at a community college for fun. There, my professor offered me a spot on CSUN’s Fashion Merchandising European Tour. I answered yes without hesitation! I was exposed to the fashion industry on a new level. I came back from Europe with a passion and eagerness to work in fashion.
I launched my first entrepreneurial venture, Spacelite Vintage, an online store that curated contemporary vintage, when I came back from Europe. I soon began styling in the commercial, editorial, and entertainment realms, working with musicians like The Black Eyed Peas and Lil Wayne as a wardrobe director. However, I learned that styling was not just glitz and glam, but truly exhausting as well. I wanted a change in pace. So, in 2015, I found GALERIE.LA. I knew it was my responsibility to create fashion in a conscious manner that would leave our Earth better for future generations to come.
Today, GALERIE.LA is at the very beginning stages of a big vision to make sustainable fashion easily accessible for women without sacrificing style.
What has been your greatest challenge as a WOB and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge as a WOB is funding. It is difficult to get my start-up in front of investors who can catch the vision that sustainable fashion is the future and see that there is a huge market opportunity that’s only growing. Also, when funding is concerned, I’m a black woman and often reminded of that directly or indirectly. Needless to say, I will never let it hinder me, but I’m always aware of my gender and race when it comes to getting the funding needed for growth.
What are the 3 biggest tips you would give women?
- Be confident - How you see yourself is a direct reflection of how others will see you. Even if you’re not feeling it, fake it and it will change your day. Confidence and a strong belief in yourself will get you very far.
- The ANSWER is You! - I learned this from Michael Bernard Beckwith and the lesson has stuck with me. Too often as women, we look outside ourselves for someone or something to give us what we need. Relationships, jobs, children etc.. Sometimes we need people to coach us through life, but ultimately YOU create your life. If you want love, give it to yourself. If you want adventure, travel alone. If you want change, make it happen. No excuses.
- Ask for help - I learned this lesson the hard way. As women, we often try to carry the weight of everything—business, home, children, relationships—and sometimes it’s just too much. It’s ok to ask. More times than not, there is someone willing to help you.
Founder Trait I was Born With:
Driven! I’ve been a driven individual since I was young. I never take no for an answer and I’ll find a way to get where I want without letting the naysayers get me down. It’s a trait that has served me well, especially with an early-stage startup. I’m convinced that it is the single trait every entrepreneur must have for success.
Fav Female: That’s a hard question, and I don’t have just one. Women have carried me and given me superpower strength throughout my life and I’m forever thankful to each and every woman who has been there for me.
Tell us something few people know: I make my own natural toothpaste, deodorant, and cleaning products, with the hope that my kitchen chemist experiments will turn into a small natural products line in a few years.