Know Your Stuff: Never stop learning. Continuously study and educate yourself on the ins and outs of the fashion industry, your personal business, and your customers.
As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie Giokaris. Melanie launched MeLD Boutique in November of 2018 with the intention of cultivating a mindful solution to the way consumers shop/buy. With the interest in educating the public about the importance and impact of the conscious consumer movement, Melanie’s goal is to change the landscape of the fashion culture in San Diego by becoming a leading example in consignment.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My name is Melanie Giokaris and I am the owner of MeLD Boutique located in the heart of the Cedros Avenue Design District in Solana Beach. I launched MeLD Boutique in November of 2018 with the intention of cultivating a mindful solution to the way consumers shop/buy. With the interest in educating the public about the importance and impact of the conscious consumer movement, my goal is to change the landscape of the fashion culture in San Diego by becoming a leading example in consignment.
Through ten years of planning and production through working as a contract consultant, MeLD Boutique has been a concept that I have spoken into existence. With an education in business merchandising and marketing, understanding both the fore-front of the fashion industry and bridging the entrepreneurial venture of turning a ten-year concept into a tangible storefront, my mission is to bring awareness to conscious-shopping. MeLD Boutique extends the life-cycle of luxury brands while cultivating a community of mindful people who value authentic and high-quality pieces made by designers around the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?
Who knew that when I first made the leap to become a business owner, it would turn out to be one of the most enlightening, life-changing decisions. And I’m not talking about the potential financial freedom or all the ‘perks’ that come along with being your own boss (i.e. the control and flexibility of your personal time). I’m talking about the personal journey of self-discovery. The mental, physical, and emotional never-ending journey entrepreneurship forces upon you.
The decision to become an entrepreneur has been the most interesting journey. It continues to make me a better, more well-rounded, and compassionate person. Through the waves of ups and downs. From the soul-crushing obstacles to the enlightening lessons — being your own boss forces you to look within. Yes, becoming an entrepreneur gives you the power to create the life you want. Yet, it challenges you to your most inner core.
From dealing with many failures and some successes, my mind has been opened to so many new opportunities, possibilities, and beliefs that I have no doubt that I am a better person now than when I first started my journey. I’ve learned along the way what it really means to be an entrepreneur — to persevere and adapt, to follow your successes and passions, and to no matter what stay authentically you and never stop growing/learning.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funny enough, the most impactful lessons have come from my biggest setbacks — all of the things I cannot control.
In my/the first 10 months of business, I faced so many setbacks and obstacles that caused me to question my purpose, my passion, and my future. You can say we experienced “the case of the threes” — back to back to back. Our entire computer system crashed, plus the backup hard drive. The store was broken into and robbed overnight. Damages from the robbery were detrimental to business operations. Our website got hacked. Our number one vendor canceled their contract. And ultimately we’ve been on a roller coaster of financial highs and lows.
Setbacks are inherent in business and entrepreneurship. Mistakes are our greatest source of learning. Things will pop up that we haven’t foreseen. It’s inevitable. But working out how to move past obstacles and getting comfortable in the unknown space has been the most rewarding lesson. Looking back, I wanted to quit. Today, I find that funny. I’ve learned to not waste my focus on things I can’t control.
Clearly, there are ugly, good, bad, and great days. The struggle was, is, and continues to be real. I wear so many hats, it’s hard to keep count. Sometimes it becomes difficult to manage what role I’m in each day, but knowing all of the challenges and obstacles somehow makes me even more persistent and determined to make this business as successful as I want it to be.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
MeLD Boutique is a luxury consignment boutique with the intention of melding the connection between conscious-shopping and extending the life-cycle of luxury brands. MeLD carefully selects new, vintage, and consigned designer fashions and one-of-a-kind pieces for women. The boutique features premium labels like Chanel, Gucci, and Prada to more accessible brands like Eileen Fisher, Elie Tahari, and Vince, and over 300 other designer brands, all available for up to 80% off the original retail price. Customers are able to browse the curated collection of wonderfully made, tasteful clothing, handbags, shoes, jewelry, and accessories at a fraction of the cost.
MeLD is unique due to its carefully curated catalog of desirable items that once sold and are expertly checked for 100% quality and authenticity. Items are submitted by its community of sellers every week, which enables buyers to hunt amongst hundreds of must-have fashion pieces a day, ensuring that MeLD Boutique is the go-to site for an exciting and exclusive shopping experience.MeLD takes only the best, freshly laundered, stain-free clothing with no holes or odors, in nearly perfect condition from notable brands and designers. Aside from their impeccable taste and discernment, MeLD stays seasonal and current, only carrying the creme of the crop for ladies with fashionable taste.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Entrepreneurship comes with a plethora of challenges. Some unique challenges that are rewarding. Some rough challenges that are especially difficult to overcome. It can be a roller-coaster of ups, downs, and all around.
For new and young entrepreneurs like myself, finding a work-life balance is almost unrealistic and burnout is almost inevitable. Combine long hours, endless to-do lists, and physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion — it’s natural for us to hit a wall. Avoiding burnout is essential to your health, wellness, continued growth, and success as an entrepreneur. To avoid finding yourself in a professional and personal blur, try utilizing these five strategies to start off thriving instead of diving:
- Dedicate Daily ‘You Time’: Building a business can expose all types of emotions — finding ways to manage the highs and lows is essential to longevity both professionally and personally. Create a strict daily routine that works for you and is easy to accomplish. For instance, I start my morning with intention, reflection, and some form of exercise. Remember, you are your company’s most valuable asset. Without you, the entire thing falls apart. It is in your best interest to constantly check in with yourself and take a step back when it all becomes too overwhelming. Find a routine that is right for you, stick to it, and honor your personal time and space.
- Work Smart, Not Hard: As a business grows, so does the workload. In order to streamline your professional habits, automate processes, delegate tasks appropriately, and give up control on trying to manage everything.
- Build A Solid Support System: “If starting a business was easy, everyone would do it”. Building a business is difficult and you can’t do it alone. And I don’t just mean financially. Having a support system in place when you begin your new business venture will make all the difference. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, understand what you’re going through, and will support you during the good and bad.
- Keep Moving Forward: Becoming successful in business is more about your mentality and perseverance than it is about finding little tips and tricks to increase your bottom life. Constantly keep learning and focus on “big picture” thinking. If you are making progress every single day and keep the bigger picture in mind, you are going to eventually hit your success point.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Fashion is the second most polluting industry where the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing annually. Given the reality of the fashion industry, MeLD prides itself on educating consumers to become consciously aware of circular fashion and apparel rotation. By shopping consignment, the consumers’ desire for variety, sustainability, and affordability is satisfied which results in fewer materials in landfills producing toxic waste. In addition, MeLD reduces its personal carbon footprint by donating all unsold goods to local women’s shelters and charities around San Diego County. To date, MeLD Boutique has donated over 6,000 dollars in clothing to women in need.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Know your worth and never settle for less than you deserve.”
Having been raised in an entrepreneurial household, I learned the value of adopting the mindset to put my time towards pursuing my passions versus caping my potential for financial gain.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t necessarily my career, it’s just simply who I am. It runs in my family. It’s a mentality. A driving force. It’s wanting the most out of life and creating something. Knowing my worth and never settling for less than I deserve goes beyond creating a career path that I am passionate about. It’s about making the most of every opportunity I come across. Enjoying more moments and more of my days. Finding joy in creating the life I want and seeing others enjoy it too.
This philosophy is something that I’ve carried with me my entire life. Especially throughout the launching of MeLD. From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to build something that was wholeheartedly mine. The concept of MeLD Boutique first started throughout middle and high school where I was up-cycling old clothing and styling all my girlfriends. To paint the picture, I would curate monthly clothing gatherings where 5–8 friends would bring old clothing to swap and re-construct with new fabrics, embellishments, and flare. We would upcycle everything from tops and dresses to shoes and accessories. My character from the earlier days until now has always been about discovering the beauty and innovation in fashion-forward thinking.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
In today’s digital age, opening a physical retail store may seem crazy as the “retail apocalypse” narrative has been so heavily pushed upon us. Yes, e-commerce has almost tripled over the last ten years from just over 5% to 13% of the retail industry’s total sales. And yes, the retail market is going through a major transformational shift — undifferentiated, large corporate brands are dying or moving closer to the edge of bankruptcy. Yet, physical retail is not dead. In fact, physical store openings are growing 50% year after year. Much of this is driven by the hypergrowth of unique discount stores and more upscale specialty stores that are moving into brick and mortar. Ultimately, consumers still like to shop in the real world. Touch and feel products. They still want to try before they buy.
Along with the rise in niche designers and specialty stores, consumers are turning to the resale market for something more sustainability-minded and financially-savvy. The resale market will reach 51B dollars in 5 years, doubling since 2018 at 24B dollars. As consumers’ attitudes continue to change towards circular fashion and valuing quality items at a lower cost, the exponential growth will continue. For example, 64% of women have bought or are now willing to buy consigned products. As ethical fashion and conscious shopping are now perceived as a luxury, Millennials and Generation Z are the driving force behind breaking the stigma of secondhand shopping. According to Forbes, the resale market could control as much as 10% of the retail industry’s total sales by 2025.
What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Connect With Customers: Actually care about your customers. Don’t just reach out to them when you want their business; find ways to continuously show them you care. Make sure your customers know you and that you recognize the importance they hold in your company. Make them feel special by approaching each person as an individual; engage in personal conversation and provide a more consultative approach when selling. Overtime you will gain loyal, connected, and engaged customers that will provide the most valuable feedback, referrals, and insight for your brand/company because they are emotionally invested and actually care about the success of your business too.
- Ability to Adapt To Ever-Changing Market: With sustainability in mind — we’re at the beginning of a whole next generation of fashion. Brands and companies need to continually modernize their platform. Although important, companies now come second to the consumer, who now has more power in the relationship and is dictating what he/she wants. Consumers want brands with a purpose. Period.
- Follow Your Passions & Skills: Start a business based on your passion and continuously refine your craft.
- Know Your Stuff: Never stop learning. Continuously study and educate yourself on the ins and outs of the fashion industry, your personal business and your customers.
- Be Yourself: Having a sense of self and knowing who you are is reflected in all aspects of your work, and it is what inevitably makes you stand out.
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
Second to oil, the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world. As the industry grows, so does the environmental damage. To mitigate the disastrous impact on the environment, the fashion industry needs to make the shift from a linear economy to a more circular economy. Hence, practicing circular fashion which can be defined as “clothes, shoes, and accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and sold with the intention to be used and circulate responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form” according to Dr. Anna Brismar of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The industry, especially fast fashion, has devastated our world’s water supply, carbon emissions, soil, and forests because of the continuous production of cheap, disposable garments. This, in turn, has serious consequences on our planet, our health, and on garment workers’ lives. By becoming more circular, it will help reduce the pressure on the environment and improve the security of the supply of raw materials. Consumers will be provided with more durable and innovative products that will have longevity and help save them money in the long term.
As a consumer, we can reduce our personal fashion environmental impact by buying less, purchasing clothing made of sustainable fabrics, focusing on quality over quantity, shopping consignment or resale, and thinking twice before throwing away clothing. Most clothing contains synthetic, non-biodegradable fibers and will just end up in a landfill. Instead of throwing your clothing away, implement the lifestyle choice of: “repair, reuse, resell and recycle”.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Did you know that only 1% of our clothing is recycled into new garments? When in fact, about 50–60% of collected and donated clothing is actually salvageable.
With the aim of fostering a movement that is not only eco-friendly but also community-minded, I would love to create a physical space where sustainable designers could produce and showcase upcycled designs. Turning trash into treasure, talented individuals can individually or collectively construct wearable fashion and accessories by reusing discarded garments, textiles and materials. By focusing on creating new out of old instead of adding more waste to the world, the products would not only contribute to conscious-shopping as a whole but also serve as conceptual art pieces as each item is unique and one-of-a-kind.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!