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En Route: Dechel Mckillian of GALERIE.LA on Her New Shop and Sustainable Fashion in Los Angeles

GALERIE.LA

ADDRESS: 767 S. Alameda #192 Los Angeles, CA

STORY + VIDEO EDITING BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – REDISCOVER OUR STUDIO VISIT WITH GALERIE.LA –  PHOTOS + FOOTAGE BY KAREN HERNANDEZ FOR THE STYLE LINE

Dechel Mckillian has been

hard at work since our initial meeting in 2016. As the talented founder of GALERIE.LA, an editorial and e-commerce platform that champions sustainable fashion, Dechel’s efforts have transcended beyond the web and manifested into the Los Angeles small business community. Enter GALERIE.LA’s newly opened shop in Downtown Los Angeles.

As a part of the city’s beloved shopping collective, Row DTLA, GALERIE.LA is in good company and Dechel contends that she’s been able to build upon the brand’s mission of fostering a community of conscious consumers. As she explained in our follow-up interview below, “Many of the other retail tenants are also emerging brands that have a local, independent or sustainable ethos. I like calling it the anti-mall, and I’m really lucky to have discovered this gem in Los Angeles!”

Case in point today’s story, where Dechel kindly gave us a tour of the airy space, her thoughts on LA’s growing response to the demand for sustainable fashion, and why she continues to celebrate personal style. Discover why GALERIE.LA is on its way to becoming a staple in the city’s small business community, and enjoy exclusive photos (and film footage!) captured by Karen Hernandez for The Style Line.

I’m Dechel Mckillian,

the Founder and Creative Director of GALERIE.LA-  a premier retail destination for conscious women who love fashion. Since I was last interviewed in 2016 a lot of growth has happened with myself and GALERIE.LA. Last year, after launching our second curated collection of sustainable fashion I explored different pop-up opportunities to bring our wonderful clothes to customers in person since we were only online.

After visiting Row for the first time and walking around the incredibly historic yet contemporary industrial development, I quickly said yes and signed the lease shortly after. I knew I could pull it off, as I worked in retail development the last few years while getting GALERIE.LA off the ground, opening up stores for retailers including Clare V, GOOP and Steven Alan.

Tell us more about the evolution of GALERIE.LA. How has your relationship to sustainable fashion grown as the business has grown?

Sustainability has been at the core of the GALERIE.LA platform since its inception. But I’ll be the first to admit, I am no sustainability expert. Prior to launching GALERIE.LA, I researched sustainable fashion for months. I studied everything from innovative eco-friendly fabrics to non-profits around the world advocating for garment worker rights. It’s been my goal to make all of the research that went into starting GALERIE.LA easy for our customers to understand.

Over years, it’s been amazing to see that as GALERIE.LA has evolved, I’ve been able to work directly with the brands and organizations that I spent so much time reading about. I’ve been able to foster great relationships with amazing people in the sustainable fashion space. I’ve grown so much with GALERIE.LA over the years and it’s It’s fun to finally be able to have conversations about sustainable fashion in person.

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Congratulations on the store opening! Tell us more about why this is an important element of GALERIE.LA’s larger mission and experience. Why do you think ROW DTLA makes sense to house the brand?

Thank you! I’m excited about this next chapter of GALERIE.LA. Since day one, my idea for GALERIE.LA has always been a physical space. It was just a lot easier to start the with an online platform first. Row DTLA is the ideal location for GALERIE.LA’s first retail store. Row spans over 32-acres of retail stores, restaurants, and creative offices. It’s a historic development that has been home to the Los Angeles produce market for over 100 years. The American Apparel factory and offices were located on the property before they closed a few years ago. When you walk on Row’s campus, you feel the energy of New York’s Meatpacking District mixed with the class of the fine shops of Paris’ Marais neighborhood. Many of the other retail tenants are also emerging brands that have a local, independent or sustainable ethos. I like calling it the anti-mall and I’m really lucky to have discovered this gem in Los Angeles!

How do you celebrate personal style?

I celebrate personal style by staying true to myself. I know what I like to wear and what looks good on me. My personal style has been a constant evolution and I’d define it now as classic with an edge. I’m currently mixing vintage levis with a crisp button up and a new pair of emerging designer heels. Embracing my own way of dressing has given me confidence, individuality and overall I have more fun with getting dressed. In a world where fashion is driven by the latest trend, sticking with my personal style is the best way to be me!

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Walk us through the shop itself. What do you hope visitors leave with?

The GALERIE.LA shop is a 1500 sq. space that has a raw industrial yet gallery feel. Wide floor to ceiling windows frame the store and fill the space with light. Upon entering the store, customers are greeted by myself or another associate standing behind our beautifully painted cash wrap. The large wooden pegboards showcase the bright colors of our sustainable value badge system and are the highlight of the space on either side of the cash wrap. I hope our customers always find and purchase pieces they love and will wear over and over again. It’s important for me to come from a stylist standpoint when helping people make decisions about their buys. I want people to get my honest opinion and not just what I want to sale. I also want each person that walks through the door to feel welcomed in a space where they can discover brands that have a positive impact on the world.

What is one question you wish people asked you more often (at this point in time)?

I’ve changed my answer! I’d like people to ask “what’s my biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?” more often. I want to create more transparency about what it means to be a female entrepreneur and how I’m growing my business. Behind the pretty pictures on Instagram, there’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice that goes into building the GALERIE.LA platform.

Would you say LA’s response or relationship to sustainable fashion has changed? What could the city be providing more of in terms of resources for sustainably-driven companies like GALERIE.LA?

Yes, I do feel like LA’s response to sustainable fashion has changed over the years. People are more aware of the destruction the fashion industry has on our people and planet. Three years ago, I thought I was the only one talking about sustainable fashion and it was hard to have the conversation. Downtown Los Angeles is a major garment production and manufacturing district. I personally wish the city delegated more resources to help small business and brands that are sustainably-driven through funding and programs. Many small brands have to make the hard decision and choose between local production without eco-friendly fabrics or offshore with eco-friendly fabrics. It can be hard to do both local and eco-friendly because of cost.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great resources, tax breaks, programs, etc but you have to already be an established company generating a certain amount of revenue. I’ve often been told when applying to programs, I’m too early or we need to hit higher revenue targets.

The early stage is when companies need the most resources to start sustainably-driven companies. Having more access to resources is crucial to the make or break of these companies that the world needs more of.