From NYC to Malpensa, we boarded a 10-hour flight that would forever change my life. Europe, I was so ready for you. To my surprise, Italy and Rome are the only cities in Italy that allow Uber with the exclusive use of Uber X. This probably explains why every time I requested a ride, a gorgeous fine-looking man would pick me up. Think George Clooney meets Alessio Boni, fully dressed in 90’s style driving Italian Luxury wheels. Oh ragazzo, was I in for a treat!

Sleepless and exhausted, Marilyn and I went straight from the airport to our little picturesque Airbnb apartment situated right in the heart of the Milan Fashion District. Funny story; the apartment was on the sixth floor with no elevator. Just six flights of stairs. Now, can you picture me carrying up 14 days’ worth of outfits? And let me tell you, I do not pack light. I was so eager and ready to dive into my European adventure that I may just have lost a bit of my glamour. I quickly changed and got ready. No makeup. No glam. Just me, myself, a pair of sneakers and my longing desire to explore.

I could not contain the amount of excitement and adrenaline in my body. There was absolutely no time to waste. We had 7 days to work and I wanted to make sure we made the best out of them.

Absolutely everything I saw and everything I experienced was bigger and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I was amazed by all the buildings that surrounded me. The architecture was quintessential - ancient yet very elegant. There were many trees with no leaves and fern absolutely everywhere. The weather was perfect to say the least. Crisp and cool. Not humid, not hot. It was 8:00 AM and nothing was open for business. I was ready to indulge in an Italian breakfast but I would have to wait as I came to learn that all businesses open at 10:00 AM. Scusa?

2 hours later and a hole in my stomach, I walked into a small café and put my amateur Italian skills to the test! I desperately needed my daily dose of caffeine so I tried to order a regular coffee. “Un café per favore,” I said to the old gentleman behind the counter. I guess he did not understand me as he responded with a fairly puzzled look and said “Que cosa”?? An espresso?” I said no. I actually hate espresso. I wanted a regular coffee. “Americano?” he asked. Si, Si. I responded. My first interaction with a local and even with a language barrier the whole experience was total bliss.

Hands down, this was the best mini americano I have ever had in my entire life. I am not even joking. I will never forget the rich taste of Italian coffee in my tastebuds. No need for cream, less for sugar. It was perfect just as is. 1 Euro and a couple of minutes later we were ready to go. Off to the first market!

Design and Style Out of This World We got picked up in a black Mercedes by Manuel, another hot Uber driver. I was totally digging this. Mipel was the first market we went to. Words can not fully describe this experience. I was completely speechless. The market was the size of Disneyland, only better. Now, Milan is part of the “Big Five” in the fashion industry, meaning it is one of the top 5 most influential capitals of the fashion industry. In an instant, you see all sorts of people walking effortlessly chic without even trying. It seemed like it was a requisite to go around life looking chic and dressing fabulously from head to toes. Later, I came to find this was the “Milanese” way of life, and I was fitting right in.

Imagine this, different generations of designers, sewers, sketching artists, pattern-makers, and artists, who were far advanced in the skill. It completely blew my mind. All in an outdoor venue where you had to go within each specific section to discover something new, just like Disneyland. There were hundreds of booths. So many I just didn’t know where to begin. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins and the Americano starting to kick in. First stop, shoes!

The thing that strikes me the most about shoes, is that they are so far ahead in style. Almost futuristic. So much different than everything we see from designers in the US. The designs are original and innovative. Not to mention the lower prices, MAMMA MIA! Every shoe designer I met, every shoe I touched, every piece I tried on, I was completely fascinated by the innovative and different style I was experiencing. Nothing like American fashion I will tell you that. I was so lost in the midst of so many options from men’s and women’s, to the people and the vendors. I was loving every single second of it. As I walked down aisle per aisle, I questioned myself, why had no one been brave enough to travel outside the country and bring back a world full of treasures and unique merchandise. For sure, there was a missing piece from Italy to the US. Was this my calling?

As we explored Micam and other markets, I fell in love with skull Swarovski umbrellas, unique high-quality leather mini handbags, cowhide leather handbags, silk scarves, men’s jewelry, and women’s fashion jewelry. In other words, I loved it all. I felt an overwhelming sensation where I almost couldn’t breathe. It was all so overwhelming but in a good way. So much excitement for one day. How could this even be real?

Unfortunately, as we explored the Micam market, the jewelry vendors were beginning to pack up. It was their last day. I began to feel anxiety as I should have seen all of the jewelry before anything else. How could this slip by me? Had I known, I wish I would have started there instead of the other places. There was just so much to see and so little time. I took a moment to meditate. “Gesuina”, I said to myself. “It is only the first day - chill out! It’s not even the “White Show” and the impulsiveness of your Sagittarius is starting to come out. Pace yourself.”

Ok. Time for a new game plan. I would need to go through as many aisles as I possibly could and exchange cards with all of the vendors. After all, I still had 7 days to make appointments or touch base with them. I still had time to make it work. I was going to make this work.

I was physically exhausted from a 10-hour flight with absolutely no sleep and I had immediately jumped into the game. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, I simply could not let time pass me by. I had to bring my A-game. Mind over matter, Let’s go!

Day 2… to be continued!


Living The World of Fashion Buying In The Fashion Markets

As you may already know, I possess a deep passion for fashion buying. I consider it more than a hobby. I see it as an opportunity to innovate and bring something different to El Paso and my beloved clients. Fashion Markets are huge trade shows that showcase emerging trends and styles of upcoming spring/fall collections each season. The U.S Fashion Market is hosted annually in notorious cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York, and Dallas. I usually attend the markets in NYC, which is part of the “Big Five” fashion capitals in the world, and the Fashion Market in Dallas, as it allows me to be back in El Paso by the end of the day. The world of fashion buying is a world of its own. It’s exciting, inspiring and exhilarating, to say the least. For the past 11 years, I have attended the U.S Fashion Markets for just about every season. This year, however, my heart felt the need to try something different. So we spiced things up.

A Not So Merry Christmas

Every year around the holiday season, things usually move at a faster pace up as clients are actively shopping for glam party outfits and searching for unique gifts for their loved ones. To my surprise and disappointment, the Holiday Season of 2019 was quite different. Silence and solitude filled the walls of GAL. We were experiencing something we had luckily never experienced before, a major decrease in sales and traffic in what was supposed to be our busiest season yet.

If you know me, I could not sit still and let this go by. So I took charge, dug in, and decided it was time for a change. Little did I know that change would mean having to go overseas.

Fashion Market Take 1

Upon one of my trips to the Dallas Market, I was lucky enough to meet an interesting, powerful woman who would change my life forever. This woman had a unique showroom inhabited by amazing international brands and products. From jaw-dropping handbags made in Brazil and Italian headbands, to one of a kind jewelry made in Venezuela, you name it. This woman had it all. Every single piece I touched, every single piece I loved. (TIP: Whenever you come across a one of a kind piece that you won’t find anywhere else, make it yours. It is one of those things that you fall in love with and it eventually transcends into your life and your story.) This is also how I select pieces for GAL. I buy one of a kind pieces that make my heart skip a beat. Also, you won’t find them anywhere else ;)

As I shared my fashion obsessions and life values with this woman, she in return shared her story and her years of experience as a showroom owner specializing in unique and exclusive international brands. In addition, I ended up purchasing exclusive items from every single line in her showroom! And for the first time in a long time, I felt excited. A feeling that I had been missing without knowing.

The unique products I purchased from her completely sold out in less than two weeks. I was humbled by the amazing response the international products were receiving. My clients seem to love and responded well to the exclusivity and uniqueness of the products. And let me tell you, they were not something you could easily find online, which made them a total hit!

We chatted for hours. Among her valuable advice was to attend the “ White Show,” the one of a kind Milan Market, to explore and discover a new world in the fashion industry. To be completely honest, I don’t know why I had not thought about buying products abroad before. I guess I figured the only “way” was to buy from US vendors . However, this woman inspired me and opened a door with many new roads. I did my research, took a leap of faith, and before you knew it I was on a plane along with my assistant, Marilyn, to Milan for an unforgettable European Fashion Week! An adventure I will for sure never forget.

Last New York Fashion Week

Before traveling across the globe, I made a pit stop in NYC for Fashion Week. As usual, I made appointments with all the vendors I have closely worked with for the past five years. However, this time it was very different. I didn’t feel the thrill and excitement when exposed to the new merchandise as I usually do. I did not know why. What I did know for sure is that whatever I was experiencing at that moment, did not match up to the vision I had for the future of GAL. I had to make a change.

I then decided to drop five of the top-selling brands. Why may you ask? Because when you own five tracksuits you have them all. When you have 4 blouses in different prints and colors from the same brand and style you have it all. Been there. Done that. Why keep selling what is working as a stylist who is constantly looking to evolve and offer the next big thing to my clients? We need to evolve to new trends and not keep offering the same items and styles year after year only because it sells. As a stylist, boutique owner, and fashion aficionado, it is my duty and responsibility to find the best, up and coming exclusive trends and styles. I may have lost myself in offering commercial items, and along with it, lost inspiration and motivation. I experienced buying what was selling versus buying what I loved. I missed out on taking risks and innovating without fear.

It’s hard to take a step back and realize that you need change. My heart was screaming for me to stop and take a bold risk. “ Drop the lines and trust yourself,” I repeatedly told myself while holding on to a bit of doubt. I was not confident that I was taking a step forward in the right direction, but instead a few steps back. I had to believe and trust myself. Then I realized, if we can easily buy these items online, why do I even want to carry them? Why would I be like everyone else? What is it that makes GAL Fashion unique and makes it stand out from the crowd?

So I dropped the lines. I had awkward conversations with my vendors and decided it was time for a new era for GAL Fashion. There it was. The end of something great, and the beginning of a new era.

Next stop, Milan, Italy.