Welcome to The Gemma Shop Blog!
I am incredibly excited for you to stop by! My name is Lauren. Here’s more about me … I can’t wait to learn more about you!
As a little girl, I always wanted to have my own store. My friend and I would set up a fake store in my room and play for hours. The obsession became real when we both received cash registers for our birthdays. (I know – weird kids.)
As I became older, entrepreneurship never left me. As a freshman in high school, a friend and I would make handbags out of fabric from JoAnn’s and sell for $10. We made 3 different silhouettes to pick from and had a swatch ring where you can pick whatever fabric print you would like. We had so much fun doing it. I set up a mini factory in my parent’s basement and may have spray painted a couple of the cabinets bright pink to get the creative juices going (sorry, Mom).
In high school, I wanted to become a designer. It felt like my calling. I wanted to focus on my “craft” and make it my future career. I spent the summer before my senior year attending FIT in NYC studying fashion design illustration. I was pumped. I spent the summer with my grandfather in New Jersey and took the train every day to the city.
I had so much fun that summer at FIT, I was set on going to college there. When I applied there was a requirement for a portfolio with 10 illustrations and at least one garment that you created. I got this, no problem. My dad and I went to FIT for the required in-person interview with my portfolio. As we were waiting for my name to be called, we watched as all the other applicants came in. Rolling racks packed with clothes came into the building and the student designers were decked out in their own designs. My dad and I looked at each other with a “there’s no chance in hell” look. Well, we were right.
I ended up going to my back up school kicking and screaming as I felt I was walking away from what I really wanted to do. I attended BGSU in Bowling Green, Ohio and studied apparel merchandising and product development. I LOVED my experience there and it worked out MUCH better! I figured out how much I love the business side of the apparel industry. I realized as a merchant you can be analytic and creative which is what I love.
Me at my internship in college with an entrepreneur. My first experience at a trade show!
I graduated from college on a Saturday and started working the following week as an Assistant Merchant (Buyer). This kick started my career. I worked my ass off, and was fully committed to getting to the top. As I grew my career, the rest of my life grew with it.
I married the love of my life, we bought our first home, and we had our first baby girl. The birth of our first daughter completely changed what I wanted in life. I no longer wanted to be at the office until 9pm every night. I wanted balance – so I moved to a new company that offered it. I took a risk and went to a newer concept retailer. After about 2 years of working they decided to close the doors and we were all laid off. I was 6 months pregnant with our 2nd daughter. That week, we had also just sold our first home, and had moved into my parent’s house as our new home was still being renovated.
Thankfully, the layoff happened at the beginning of the week and I had a new job by the end of the week. I was very lucky. Even though my situation wasn’t that bad and other people experienced more trying times, it caused me to self-reflect. This wasn’t my first time watching a layoff happen, but it was the first time I was a part of it. It really weighs heavy on your mind how all of your hard work can disappear in a moment’s notice. At the end of the day, it’s business.
Over the next year I couldn’t help but think about the little girl playing store in her room. Not only did I think about my days of playing store, I thought about my daughters. How difficult it is to leave work to attend school parties, to pick up or drop off for school, spend time together in the evenings, and the list goes on. It made me insane to have to depend on other people to help as I was the one who wanted to be there. I would really struggle because I felt like I was missing out or would miss out on moments in my daughters’ lives.
I decided I needed to make a change and fulfill a dream I have always had while satisfying my needs of motherhood. I needed to stop complaining about my situation and create the situation I truly wanted. Sounds easy, right? The most difficult part of the decision was not having the financial freedom to just up and quit my job. We would have to make cuts and watch our spending. We wrote down all of our expenses and looked at the things we could live without. We set a realistic goal of when we could afford to start the business. We considered all of the worst case scenarios and determined it was worth the risk.
So now, here we are. The launch is happening and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. I took a leap. A huge leap. A scary leap. However, I couldn’t feel more amazing. Have you taken a leap? Are you going after your dreams? You can do it, too!