- Company: The Ultimate Trunk Show and ShopCLB.com
- Founder: Latoya Gordon
- Niche: Fashion Industry / Trade Show / Retail
- Location: New York City
- Connect with Latoya: Website | Shop | Facebook | Twitter
Latoya Gordon is definitely the “sister-girl-mentor-friend” that every aspiring hustlapreneur needs to have in her corner. As the creator of one of the premiere shopping exhibitions for urban entrepreneurs in the country and the curator of one of the most fashionable retail shops on the web, this woman is definitely an amazing source of information and inspiration. However, it is her work ethic and dedication to helping others achieve their dreams that we find most impressive. Check out what makes Latoya a Nautie Girl and take notes, because she definitely has a lot to share!
Tell us a little about yourself and what sparked your interest in the Fashion Industry?
I actually didn’t go to school for fashion. I went to school for media and communications and found myself disappointed with it. However, life just as a funny way of presenting us with what we are destined to be…so, in the fall of 2008 I launched an online boutique, since I’ve always wanted to own my own store. I figured instead of waiting to get the funding for a store front, I would start with an online boutique. Well, in 2008 the economy wasn’t so great and I actually got laid off from my job about 3 months after launching my online store. So, I had to really sit back and think about my game plan. I had inventory to sell and I definitely wanted to progress with my business, so I ended up doing a shopping event in my apartment. I invited one of my friends to partner with me that happened to own a jewelry line and it turned out great! A couple of months later I decided to do it again. It was called Gloss and Garments. Don’t ask me where that name came from…(LoL). However, this time I invited about 4 or 5 other friends that had their own clothing lines. I added some wine, cheese and crackers, we did complimentary makeup from another vendor, and we even had gift bags and magazines. I had a few friends that worked for some pretty great companies that were able to sponsor “the shopping event,” so all of this resulted in mini trunk show in my apartment. That’s when the light bulb went off and the idea for the Ultimate Trunk Show was born. We had the first official Trunk Show in Winter 2009 and it really took on a life of its own. I didn’t know what it was going to be and I didn’t even know what I was doing, but its been nothing but magic ever since.
How did you put the logistics together to really pull an event of this magnitude off? How did you get people to take you seriously with this new venture?
People will only take you seriously, if you take yourself seriously. I’m not going to allow anyone to define my worth and my value. This belief allows me to continue to progress. It also allows me to pursue and work with the sponsors that I want to work with and that add value to my brand. No one can define who you are but you.
Well, now you’re blessed to be the owner of not one, but two successful businesses; ShopCLB.com your online boutique and The Ultimate Trunk Show, what is a typical day for you like?
A typical is day for me begins first thing in the morning when I put aside time to check my emails. I am very hands on, and that’s something that a lot of people may not know about me. I’m very involved in everything that goes on with UTS. I actually just began to grow a team, more so because I was not willing to let things go. I would hover over everything because I truly wanted to do it all. I wanted to take care of it all, every little detail and that’s not always the best bet…(LOL). Right now, I have an amazing team and I’m learning how to delegate. Having a team that also brings something to the table has been an amazing experience too. It’s not just me. I really enjoy my meetings with them..going over ideas..Just the whole process. In the beginning, it was just me being scared…saying, “I will post on the blog,” or “I will contact this vendor and the sponsors, etc.,” but I’ve definitely been growing and have become more open to sharing the responsibilities. My team is all for the vision. They believe in the brand. That is extremely important too. You need someone that wants to be there and they want to see the success of the brand. I also get additional support from my friends as well. They love and support the brand, and the success of what I’m building. They’ve been with me from day one, when the show was just in my apartment to what it has become today.
As a result of your networking success, you’ve been able to create opportunities not only for yourself, but for many other emerging artists, designers and entrepreneurs. What has that experience been like for you?
At the first trunk show that I did, I really didn’t know what to expect. I just remember looking around at the first show in the Dumbo loft and thinking… “wow.. all of these people are here and all of these vendors are here,” and I was humbled. These people didn’t know me from Adam. Yet, they wanted to do this show and they put their trust in me. I remember my friend stopped me and he said that you really need to take this all in. Just take a moment to reflect on it. I’ve never forgotten that, and it is definitely something that I make it a point to do at every show. I just take a minute to take it all in. I’m very hands on. I like to walk around the entire show repeatedly to check on the vendors. Making sure that everyone is having a good time. That everyone’s needs are met and that my team is covered.
What (3) pieces of advice would you offer to someone with similar aspirations?
You must believe in what you’re doing and believe in your brand. You can literally be out here trying to sell crap. However, if you have a real passion and belief in your brand, people will believe in it as well.
You must have the willingness and the drive to want to put in the work. You can’t be afraid to work hard for want you want.
You must surround yourself with people that are supportive, positive and uplifting.
At the trunk show, I spoke to several of your vendors that literally could not stop praising you for your vision, your positivity, and just for being an inspiration! So, we would like to know who / what inspires you?
I appreciate people that thrive off of hard work. I look at their successes and their hurdles. I appreciate a true story. I swear, I don’t want to sound cliché, but I really admire my mother, my family, Beyonce, Oprah, and Anna Wintour. Honestly, if you look at Beyonce’s work ethic, it’s just unreal and untouchable. She really pushes me to continue to want to work hard and to not settle. You can’t tell her anything because she’s totally about her business, and I’ve adopted that mindset. You can’t tell me anything! I’m going to succeed! People look at her and they see a performer, but I look at her and I honestly see her work ethic and it’s amazing. She’s never complacent and comfortable. She’s a perfectionist. I’m a perfectionist. She’s always looking for growth and I love that about her. With every trunk show, I’m looking to just grow and I’m striving to make every show a better experience than the last. We started in my apartment with (5) vendors…expanded to the Dumbo loft which is a 3,000 sq ft venue with about (26) vendors…to taking on two loft spaces and more vendors and this past spring we had a 10,000 sq ft venue with over (40) vendors. With every show it just continued to progress and nothing has remained the same. Every time you attend the show my goal is to always push it a step further and to offer something different to you.
I also find myself very inspired by today’s youth. On Saturdays, I actually teach Kindergarten and first grade at the Children’s Aid Society in Harlem. I absolutely love “my kids”. I truly enjoy working with the kids, encouraging and motivating them to do their best, to be their best. I am very passionate about giving back and working with our youth, our future. It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously and will always remain dedicated too.
What is next for the Latoya Gordon brand?
Sky is the limit! I see so much for the future of the Ultimate Trunk Show. I see the UTS Atlanta, the UTS LA, UTS DC, etc. I definitely see us being a national show in every major city and becoming a household name. That is something that I am definitely striving for.
How important do you think it is to have platforms such as “The Nautie Network” in today’s society?
It’s very important because this platform is bringing awareness to organizations, brands, and events that traditionally may not receive the support from main stream media.
Finish this sentence: “Everything changed for me when…”
I discovered my greater purpose!