The struggle is real. Not only are we in the middle of a worldwide pandemic but it is also summer. In the retail industry, summer is considered the worst season of the year. Sales and the amount of work drop as everyone is out on vacation, traveling, or staying at home with their kids while they are out of school. Well, my friends, that is a double misfortune for myself and my team at Gal Fashion.

Amid the silence and uncertainty, I started to talk to my neighbors. If you have driven by the Shops on Mesa lately, you may have noticed some of the shops remain unopened, while others have closed their doors permanently. I also began to conduct a bit of research regarding everything there is to know about taxes and our local economy. For instance, if we purchase items locally, those items are taxed in the county. Therefore, taxes stay within the city and we contribute to the local economy. However, whenever we make purchases online we pay taxes, but where do those taxes go? Although online shopping may be more convenient, unfortunately, it does not contribute to the local economy.

As I witnessed more and more local businesses struggling, I decided to act and do something about it. I reached out to my followers and asked if their business had somehow been affected by the pandemic.

“Has your business been affected by the pandemic? DM me for information on how to collab” - I posted on Instagram. My intention was simply to open up a conversation and figure out a way to support each other, collaborate, and grow as a community. I was astonished by the positive response and the feedback I was receiving. As entrepreneurs reached out, we explored ways to collaborate and support each other.

One of these collaborations was with Jordan Freedman and Tara Livingston from “Jordys.” By now, you may be familiar with their succulent and amazing charcuterie boards on my stories! Jordy’s has been in the catering business for a year now, but they have years worth of history in the food industry. This young couple sure knows the true meaning of hustling, especially during this pandemic when they have focused on getting creative to attain brand awareness. We have recently collaborated by becoming a support system for one another. We are young entrepreneurs who lean on each other and wish to succeed and experience growth within our city and community. Every time I have an event or a small social distancing friendly get together that requires food I go to them.
Because fashion and food don’t go hand in hand, we mainly support each other by word of mouth and referrals.

Another recent collaboration is with Balloon Ve.ga, your go-to shop for original and out of the ordinary balloon arrangements. Caesar and Jesus, two young, Venezuelan entrepreneurs, started their decoration business in El Paso in a little under a year. After they reached out to me on Instagram and a couple of conversations later, we decided to create a huge and gorgeous backdrop inside Gal Fashion that served as an instagrammable spot and a summer selfie stage. Everyone that visits Gal and our sister store, Tesori, gets exposed to Balloons Ve.ga and they can experience something different that you don’t usually find at our store. Fortunately, Caesar and Jesus have been booking balloon decoration gigs left and right, especially for drive-by parties during this pandemic. Whether you are looking to decorate your ride or add a nice touch to your lawn, Cesar and Jesus are your guys! Working with Balloons Ve.ga has allowed me to expand my creativity while supporting our community in a new way. I look forward to continuing to work with them on all of my upcoming events and special occasions, especially those social distancing drive-by parties!

The last local collaboration I will share with you today happens to be one of my favorites! I genuinely believe it was destiny for us to meet and come together to create something beautiful. Andrea Aguirre De-Leon reached out to me to collaborate. To my surprise, she is also a local fashion boutique owner, has a background in retail having worked with Ruby-Lola and we share the same age. Coincidence? I think not. We are a match made in heaven! I decided to pay a little visit to her shop downtown, Veintidos (which happens to be my favorite number), and was so impressed by the little gem I encountered. I just could not believe she has been around for so long (5 years), offering unique statement pieces to our border community as a young local female entrepreneur. My kind of Gal!

Andrea also happens to be a talented jewelry designer. We sat down, had a heart to heart, and realized that when two like-minded individuals who work in the same industry come together, amazing things happen. My favorite aspect of this story is that there is no competition but pure collaboration, all while we help raise each other to meet our ultimate goals. When I asked Andrea what she was seeking out of this collaboration, her response generated a sense of hope and excitement for the future.

” I want for us two El Pasoan female entrepreneurs to create the most innovative and unique jewelry line together” - Andrea

Surprise! Veintidos and Gal Fashion are working together to launch an exclusive jewelry line.

Every collaboration I have experienced has opened my eyes in one way or another. What I appreciate the most is people from various industries reaching out only to find that we share the same longing for our community. It is important to support one another as individuals and also to support our local businesses. We are all struggling during this pandemic in one way or another - may it be emotional, mental or economic. However, when we come together things get easier Feel free to email me at gesuina@galfashion.com if this interests you in anyway, and let’s create something beautiful.

- Logo purple

During this quarantine, I was so amazed and proud to see my entrepreneurial friends get extremely creative in finding new and effective ways of making money during this unusual time. They sought out to offer one-on-one mentoring and group workshops that focused on teaching people new skills from home through a video platform you may already be familiar with called Zoom. I was very impressed with how effective ZOOM webinars were for them. The cool thing about hosting workshops on Zoom versus video content on YouTube is that it is very interactive so you get the chance to actually talk to your audience and answer questions on the spot, versus a pre-recorded video.

Being the curious and confident gal that I am, I sought out to find out if I could also partake in the ongoing Zoom trend. But what would I have to offer? What could I teach that is of value? What am I particularly good at? Fashion, of course, was my first response. However, I have a blog for that and I am always sharing my knowledge on social media. I wanted to offer something more. I began to really dig deep and put some thought into it. I then realized that ever since I was 18 years old, I have actively been involved in several successful startups ( Soon to be 9 start-ups, stay tuned to find out more on this ;)) To be honest, I don’t know of anyone better who knows how to open a business – in what I like to call an interesting and strange market of El Paso, but myself. Not only have I helped develop 8 successful startups over the years, but I also worked for a genius and powerhouse master, the former owner of Tres Mariposas, who taught me everything there is to know about owning and running a successful boutique. I have also been heavily involved in other industries beyond fashion ranging from party halls, hair salons, The Gal Brunch, my mom’s store Tesori and so much more. The more I walked down memory the lane, the more I added to my list. I have experience and sharp skills in marketing, networking, buying, sales, accounting, managing employees, travel, and even architecture! I have done it all during the last 11 years of my life. As I added more and more to my list, I could not help but feel the adrenaline rush through my veins. I
I was so confident that if I was able to help my mother turn her dream into a profitable and successful company with my knowledge and experience, I could help others get their business off the ground! It was then that I realized I had it in me to help others achieve and accomplish their dreams! I was born to inspire, motivate, mentor, and execute.

I rolled up my sleeves and started a 4-series workshop. Each session would be 60 minutes long and I would host two sessions every Friday. I was so nervous to get started. However, I want to add that my motto lately has been “expect nothing, get everything.” In a gist, this reminds me to be present and make the most out of every situation knowing that there is always a lesson to be learned, whether it is failure or success. This mindset and attitude have completely changed my perspective and turned my life around. To my surprise, my first session was completely booked! People wanted to hear what I had to say, but more importantly, they were ready to learn from my experience. I was both humbled and extremely excited. I began my first Zoom session with great confidence knowing that I have put a lot of hard work, passion, and love into this and reminded myself that everything would work out just fine. Well, let me tell you, it turned out to be better than just fine! My first class was actually an hour and a half long ( disclaimer - it only felt like the best 10 minutes of my life! ) To be honest, the only chance I really get to talk about my experiences is through my blog, and although I love sharing them with you, this was different. I was sharing with a group of listeners who were eager to learn and know everything about my career of 11 years in fashion, retail, and business.

Most importantly, I got the opportunity to know each attendee firsthand by name and learned about their dreams and what they wanted to accomplish. I was able to connect with them on a different level sharing words of compassion, care, and shared interests. I have always said, when you do something out of love and passion, the results come in abundance. I was so amazed and surprised by the success and the positive feedback that I received. The sessions were a hit and people wanted more and more. Being able to help others by doing what I love was completely awesome and extremely gratifying.It made me realize that not sharing my knowledge and experience would be selfish of me. I can’t describe what it feels to be able to help and inspire others to make their dreams a reality, other than by sharing that my heart is full of gratitude. This coming Thursday, I will be hosting “The Net with Gesuina” to meet all my fellow students and mentees. I have a lot of surprises in store for them because this is only the beginning of Zoom with Gesuina. Stay tuned.

- Logo purple

The last few months have been unexpectedly insane, to say the least. In the midst of living in panic and uncertainty during this pandemic followed by a series of unfortunate events fueled by hate and racism, it hurts my heart to experience a continuous thread of backlash, bullying, and hatred. Now, more than ever is the time when we need to come together to bring peace and comfort to others and restore faith in humanity. In order to advocate change, we must be willing to initiate change within ourselves.

With that being said, I want to challenge all my readers to practice acts of kindness, gratitude, and courage daily, so that together, we can create a movement that will incite positivity and create a progressive impact in society given the situation that we are currently living in. I invite you to lead by example, and with our example, let us inspire others to do the same and thus create an endless chain of actions.

Kindness and Respect You may be familiar with the old saying “ You can’t understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” We don’t know what people go through, therefore we should be slow to judge. No matter what religion, skin color, or sexual preference we are all from the same race – the human race. As such, we should speak with kindness and treat one another with respect. Let your actions be driven by compassion and words fueled by love, because believe it or not, kindness is contagious.

Gratitude If you have a roof over your head, food on your table, and something to look forward to every day, know that you are beyond blessed. Let us not take the little things in life for granted. Your trips and gatherings can wait. They won’t make an impact on your future, but who you spend your time with during these days will. I challenge you to keep a gratitude journal and write down 10 things you are grateful for every day. Today, I am thankful for having the opportunity to share this with you. I am grateful to be able to have a voice that inspires others.

Courage Dare to be different and dare to be bold. Don’t fear being different and most of all, don’t be afraid to act with braveness, stand up for your neighbor and do the right thing. It is through acts of courage that we grow as individuals. It is through the seeds of endurance which we plant on this earth that will grow trees of hope in the future. Have the courage to act with righteousness and speak with words of wisdom and hope, especially today, when the world needs it more than ever. With this being said, I really want my readers to take a step back and realize that there is so much hate going on right now and we need to be wiser and use this opportunity to love and bring light to others. It is a time to unite, support, and come together as a community. I would really love for the city of El Paso to be an inspiration and an example. Let’s stand up for peace and hope for a brighter future.

- Logo purple

As I sit here and write the final ending to my magical adventure of my recent trip to Milan, I can’t help but get extremely emotional. That trip was a turning point in my life. It was a beautiful, magical, and exciting experience. As a Sagittarius, I have a strong passion and flair for adventures and new experiences, thus I find myself deeply saddened by the thought and uncertainty we are currently living due to the recent Coronavirus outbreak. I don’t know when this quarantine will end, or when I will be able to return to Italy. I am extremely grateful that I was able to make my dream come true just right before the world turned upside down because it gives me a bit of peace to know that I had lived the happiest moments and now I have unforgettable memories that I hold dear to my heart. I also would like to clarify at this time that a lot of people thought I was moving overseas when the first blog was published. Although, it sounds like a nice dream, moving to Italy is not in the books for me. The tales and stories that I have been sharing with you along the past few weeks are bits and pieces of my unforgettable adventure before the quarantine. This is the last of the seven-part series of my trip to Italy for Fashion Week. I have deeply enjoyed taking you along what I regard as the highlight and blessing of my year. Going forward, I will continue to share my stories and adventures, just focused on my present. The here and the now. So, here it goes, the finale to a seven-part series of my trip to Milan. …We finished our aperitivos and took a stroll down Via Gesu. I saw the most stunning palm print two-piece outfit on the window display at a Versace store. Just days before I had posted a photo on social media because it caused such an impression on me that I had to go back. Here is a fun fact, did you know that the Medusa Gianni Versace chose for the brand has a lot of meaning behind it? He basically chose the medusa because even though she may not be beautiful, she still manages to mesmerize you and makes an impression you can’t ignore. Thus, you end up falling in love. The representation is so true that this outfit had such an effect on me. It was so unique, radical, and eccentric. Of course, I had to come to experience it firsthand.

We walked into the store and of course, celebrities and bloggers were all over the place, all of whom I didn’t know. Marilyn, on the other hand, took a selfie with them and was infatuated with the moment. I told Yihan, the saleswoman, that I needed to try the outfit on. A very “pretty woman” moment I would say. I had no clue how much it was but I thought – YOLO. I followed Yihan to a private room and she gave me the ultimate customer experience. It is very rare that I am on the customer side of the situation as it is usually the other way around. So, this was a treat. She served me champagne in $600 champagne glasses that you can actually find at Tesori, my mom’s store. Yihan wore white gloves to show me all the pieces. She inspired me to step up my game that very same day. She brought me the outfit styled with shoes and jewelry along with more and more and more clothes. Trying on different garments, drinking bubbly, and staring at myself in the mirror, I was having the time of my life. It was retail therapy at its finest. I was enjoying myself and having so much fun. I felt the way my clients feel when they visit GAL, so I now understand what it is like to be in the client’s shoes. Yihan didn’t know anything about me which made it all much more fun and adventurous. It was almost like I was shopping with my BFF who was a bad influence on my wallet. The manager, Giuseppe, came down to meet me and of course, he was gorgeous. He sat down and we had a pleasant conversation as we spoke and started to get to know one another. By the end of the night, I ended up taking almost everything I had tried on! I bought it because of the memories behind the moment. All those pieces felt very special to me and I will keep them forever. One thing that particularly stands out from that day that was that I asked Guiseppe about Americans having fashion careers in Italy. I was curious to find out what are the top money-making jobs in Italy in the fashion industry. His response was completely mind-blowing.
He said that if it is money that you are after, then you won’t find it in fashion. “…Fashion is our culture, our way of life – La Milanese. We don’t do things for money here. We believe in happiness and fashion only happens to be a part of our culture…” It suddenly hit me. The siestas, the aperitivos, opening the shops at 10:00 am, the family culture. That was all their way of life. Not competing or stepping on heads to rise to the top. Working like slaves to have millions of dollars but horrible domestic problems or personal issues. It was completely the opposite of my experience in America. I realized that everyone in Italy had a sense of good vibes. Everyone smiled and was so friendly and easy-going. Being exposed to this Italian lifestyle was so impactful that it changed me.

The next day was sadly the last day in the wonderful city of Milan. We went to the markets and bought beautiful things that we will be launching in the Fall, so stay put! The day was once again perfect. I decided to go to my favorite coffee shop. The one that I visited every day, followed by a short walk around the park. I will never forget that last moment. Feeling the wind brush across my face as the sun was setting and the leaves on the trees trembled. It was absolutely breathtaking. People were walking their dogs and riding their bikes going about their day on a Sunday afternoon. I started to cry. I cried because I didn’t want the trip to end. I cried of happiness as my heart was full of gratitude for the experience, but I couldn’t help but to feel sadness because it was over. It was the perfect ending to my Milanese fashion fairy tale. I sat there and took a deep breath of fresh air as I felt present at that very moment. If I close my eyes now, I can still go back and remember that perfect moment. It was pure bliss. As we arrived at the airport they announced we had made the last flight before the shutdown. I was blessed beyond measure. Milan was officially the 2nd most impacted city in Italy with the coronavirus outbreak. Millions of infections and deaths swept the country. We made it back home safely by the grace of God on the last day before the world was about to change.

- Logo purple

I knew exactly what I was going to wear. After all, it was my first MSGM fashion show. I wanted to go for Dolce & Gabbana meets Wednesday Adams. I had this whole Euro princess - Victoria Beckham attitude and look in my head. Little did I know this was a total American ideology, but I will get to that later. As I said, I had my whole OOTD entirely planned out. I even made a trip to Sephora to find the perfect Wednesday Adams Chanel lip color. If you Google ‘Dolce & Gabbana 2016’ you see the Marina Forsetti headbands with the shade of Chanel lipstick I purchased. I just added a cute white collar dress to marry the two and ta-da! I was ready to hit the runway.

I ordered an Uber. A black Mercedes van pulled up to the curb and a gorgeous handsome looking driver got down to get the doors for us. Mama mia! *was I in love. I expected nothing less at this point. *La Milanese way of life was completely my thing.

We are at the MSGM fashion show. Holy moly, was I underdressed! I thought I was looking a little extra and fly, but no. Was I wrong. I had forgotten we were in the fashion capital of the world where the futuristic trend was ‘in.’ I was not dressed up to par at all. There was nothing I could do at this point but own it. This was a once in a lifetime kind of thing and there was nothing I could do but live and enjoy the moment. We were standing outside the show and it was completely packed. Paparazzi all over the place. Fashion icons, bloggers, journalists, models, fashionistas, buyers, owners, and even famous Instagram dogs. All fashion people UNITE. Everyone was so extra. I love it. Neon, print on print, gender-neutral, everyone’s outfits were on point – Milan was the fashion world.

Marilyn started pressuring me to go inside and take our seats. We were registered buyers. Keyword: buyers. That means we had first priority. Wait, we are actually US buyers, that means even more VIP. Dang Marilyn. You go Glen Coco! I am not going to lie and act like I always have my act together or that I am as confident as I appear to be. The truth is that at the end of the day, I am human. I have the insecurities of a rookie even with 11 years of hard work and experience under my belt. . The room was dark and comfortably crowded with all sorts of media and journalists. Over 1000 chairs filled the pink carpet floor. We were immediately greeted with warmth and importance as they asked us who we were. I was living in the moment. I had been to tons and tons of fashion shows, as well as having hosted my own, but this was a whole different league. Nothing I had ever experienced before was anything like this. This was the real deal. We were seated in the front row among celebrities, famous bloggers, and influencers. It was awesome. However, I seem to know none of them. Oops! Thank God I have Marilyn for that. She is a genius, my right arm, and the brains of GAL. She whispers, “omg, the twins.” Of course, I am oblivious and have absolutely no freaking idea who they were. Apparently, they are the most famous fashion runway show attendees of our generation. You learn something new everyday.

All the chairs are full and the room is packed with beautiful people. All of a sudden we hear a loud ‘SHH!’ and the lights are off. BAM! The DJ hits off beats to the rhythm of flashing lights. Creepy music remixed with soft rock begins to play. Like everything, it was quite bizarre and futuristic but kind of cool. It’s unexplainable.

Less than 10 minutes later the lights were back on. People start clapping, the show was over. What, that was it? The runway show was less than 10 minutes long! It all happened way too fast. I didn’t even get to focus on the looks and the designs that much because it was like super-fast. There were 10 to 15 models tops wearing bright oversized clothes down the runway. Everything happened so fast. All of this hype and adrenaline for only 10 minutes? I don’t know what the point of a show is if it is going to be that fast, but OK. Again, this was a once in a lifetime kind of deal so I was determined to enjoy every single second of it.

The designer was super young. He was probably around his early 40’s. He walked around the room after the show wearing sneakers, a sweater, and jeans. He was super chill and ready for the press. I took a picture on the red carpet and we were on our way out. It was barely 12:30 PM and there was nothing else on the schedule for the rest of the day. I guess It was time for an Aperitivo.

We had a whole day ahead of ourselves and our trip was soon coming to an end. Thus, we decided to spend the rest of the day sightseeing and enjoying Milan. I wanted to see what this city was all about, other than the amazing fashion and its beautiful people. I wanted to visit Arco Della Pace, the city gate of Milan and a quite famous Instagram worthy location. To do so, I needed to change my outfit. We quickly headed to the apartment and slipped into a cocktail pale-pink glitter dress by RTA that I had purchased in NYC the week before Valentine’s Day. The dress was cute and a bit futuristic, as it seems to be the trend of this year. We headed to the arc and took some Instagram worthy photos. As we were strolling the streets of Milan, a waiter said, ‘Hey Bella, why don’t you come inside for an aperitivo’. Wait, what is he talking about and why is everyone around us having an orange drink? It was then that I came to discover the famous Aperol Spritz among the beautiful people of Milan. Whoah. Were my taste buds in for a refreshing ride! If you have never had one before, Aperol is an Italian liquor made out of rhubarb and oranges. When mixed with Italian Prosecco, soda and orange slices, you get the famous aperitivo Aperol Spritz.

If you have been following me or visited GAL after my trip, you know that the famous Aperol Spritz is what we serve at GAL Fashion. I have now hooked a lot of people on this cocktail. You are welcome.

After the most enjoyable evening and a couple of rounds of refreshing and delicious Aperol Spritz, we were ready for dinner. How does lobster sound? Yum! As we were walking down Via Gesu, I told Marilyn that I had been doing a little research of my own and saw that anything that is made in Italy is a lot cheaper than what you pay for in the US. This could only mean one thing: danger.

To be continued…

- Logo purple