We hung out with super cool sustainable storeowner, Dechel, from Galerie.LA.  She gave us the scoop on her journey to having a store that focuses on sustainable and ethical goods, making the switch from medicine to styling the likes of Fergie, and insider tips on The ROW DTLA and MORE.

1. Introduce yourself and where you're from, how you got started in fashion and what led you to Galerie. LA

I’m Dechel Mckillian, founder of Galerie.LA. I’m born and raised in Los Angeles. I travelled a lot but have always called LA home. Currently living in Venice with the Galerie.LA shop DTLA. I love being by the beach and working in the city. I’m a new mom to a sweet puppy Domino. 

Growing up, I always dreamt of being a doctor. So I always like to say fashion found me. I took one year off before applying to medical school and got the amazing opportunity to go on a European Fashion Tour with Cal State Northridge. It was my first time out of the country and seeing the behind the scenes of the fashion industry. When I returned back to LA I knew I wanted to pursue a fashion career. I began assisting stylists in LA and fell in love with the art of styling. One thing lead to another and I found myself on tour with Lil Wayne and The Black Eyed Peas. I quickly built a roster of clients including Fergie, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lionel Ritchie and many more of music’s top-charting artists.

It was my experiences traveling the world that led me to sustainability. I saw firsthand the negative impact fashion has on people and the planet. From beaches covered with trash to factories with horrendous conditions. I was going through my own conscious journey and knew I wanted to make a change. I wanted to shop sustainably but had a hard time finding brands. I took about 6months researching sustainable brands, decoding their messages and scouting the brands that I would want to wear or put on celebrity clients. That was the aha-moment. I found brands from all over the world that were producing their collections in a responsible manner and I wanted to bring those brands to one platform which is now Galerie.LA. 

2. What is Galerie. LA all about? 

Galerie.LA curates the finest selection of sustainable fashion and lifestyle goods from emerging brands around the world. We invite customers to shop their values by featuring styles that support artisan, ethical, eco-friendly, local, recycled and vegan production methods. I like to say Galerie.LA is the best place for you to discover brands and do good with every purchase both online and in-store. 

Our ethical concept shop is open at ROW DTLA, a new shopping center on the Arts District. It’s our first retail experience and you’ll find the same styles as online in addition to a variety of events. We’re dedicated to building a community of people who are interested in sustainable fashion. We host panels, trunk shows, meet-ups and more in the Galerie.LA store to ignite the slow fashion movement in Los Angeles. 

3. What got you into sustainable fashion?

It was through my own conscious journey that I became more aware of the food I was eating, products I was using on my body, and my clothing choices. Many of my experiences traveling the world made me realize I wanted to have a positive impact through fashion. I wouldn’t even say I was using the term sustainable fashion 6 years ago but I knew I wanted to know where and who made my clothes along with the materials they were made from. It was after much research that I discovered the term sustainable fashion and it became the core purpose of the Galerie.LA platform, which encompasses ethical and eco-friendly production methods. 

4. What is the process when you pick a brand for the shop?

I hand-select each of the brands and styles we carry at Galerie.LA based on design, quality and production following a sustainable strategy. I wanted to show that sustainable fashion could also be fashionable as opposed to the granola, DIY, basic perception. Everything I carry at Galerie.LA. I would either wear or put on a celebrity client. To have a positive environmental and social impact that is not at the expense of style is key. 

5. You are a woman of color and the brands that you carry are so diverse in terms of not just style but also representation! Was that a conscious effort? What else do you see lacking in the sustainability space in terms of inclusivity or do you think we're pretty much covered? 
I can’t take all the credit that hosting sustainable brands who’s founders represent various ethnicities and backgrounds was on purpose - it has happened organically which showed me that the sustainable fashion is very diverse and it’s not only for white women like it can seem. I always wanted Galerie.LA as the brand to be diverse showing women of different ethnicities, sizes, shapes and ages. From the inside out it’s only right that our brands are founded by the same standards. It also feels like a true representation of Los Angeles, the city because it is one of the most diverse places in the world.
The perception of sustainable fashion from the outside can seem very white and wealthy if I’m being honest. However, I don’t think that’s the reality of it. You may just have to search little bit more to find brands who are showcasing diversity. They’re most likely small emerging brands who don’t have a multimillion dollar advertising budget so they’re not the first ones to pop up on a google search. But they are out there like Back Beat Rags for instance! 
I do believe the sustainable fashion space has room for growth to be more diverse showing all different ages, races, etc. and expanding more into men’s , inclusive sizing is a big one having sizes that go beyond L and size 10. 

 

6. Tell us a little bit more about the ROW- what are your tips on where to eat/shop/etc!

ROW DTLA is described by LA Times as “a growing collective of globally recognized shops, restaurants, and offices that create their own unique LA environment.” The collective of ROW is made up of independent retailers and some of the best restaurants you can find in the city.  

My favorite places to shop at ROW DTLA are Poketo for stationary and design driven objects, Flask and Field for the best wine and spirit selection I’ve found in LA, and A+R is my inspiration for all things home and interior design. 

If you’re looking for a new experience I’d say take a pottery class with Still Life Ceramics and learn how to throw a bowl. You can make your own plate or cup in an hour. 

My go-to for dining at ROW DTLA is Tartine Manufactory which just opened in March following much anticipation from its San Francisco location. The bread, pastry and coffee selection is incredible. 

I love Rappahannock for Happy Hour. Their outdoor patio along with a glass of rosé and fresh oysters is so serene. 

I’m looking forward to Go Get Em Tiger opening up just two doors down from Galerie.la for coffee and small bites. 

Hyato is a Japanese specialty restaurant that just received a Michelin star and I highly recommend ordering a Bento box. 

...As you can see I get excited about the food! 

Head over to Galerie.LA to visit Dechel and see her rad selection of environmentally conscious brands including ours!