This is the story about how a strong single woman, yes me, found out that there is life without a husband and how I turned adversity into a thriving fashion business. Great Labels is a luxury consignment boutique specializing in designer labels and high-end fashion and style items in the heart of Los Angeles. This is my story…
My name is Andrea Waters. Let me tell you how it all began. My Dad was a military man; thus, I was an army brat. Every year I was in a different school, different state, and sometimes, even a different country. I learned at a very young age that to be accepted (and noticed) you had to be wearing the latest fashion. Showing up my first day of a new school in the latest threads gave me the confidence and courage to jump right in. It was hard when you longed for Bergdorf’s and your mom wanted you to shop at Sears, or worse yet – the PX! But somehow I created a style all my own, taking the latest trends and turning them into my own fashion statement.
I subscribed to Women’s Wear Daily at 12 and the fashion world’s bible became mine. When I would spot a trend, I had to be first to have it among my peers. Starting with white pull-on go-go boots, miniskirts, pounds of black eye makeup and great big Jackie O sunglasses, I was on the cutting edge and LOVED it! Nothing was more important to me than my fashion image. Somehow my closet and self esteem got intertwined. After college, I embarked on a career in fashion and landed a dream job with Calvin Klein.
Naturally, my real human love, a MAN, came in the form of a “garmento” (translation: a man whose life and business was fashion). Gap became Gucci, leather replaced vinyl, cashmere replaced wool and the word faux never crossed my lips again. At the wedding, I wore a custom, shirred, draped Norma Kamali gown. He was in black label Armani and we exchanged vows with Tiffany’s bands of love. The honeymoon was, you guessed it, a shopping trip to Milan.
As things happen, my Armani man found a more fashionable model. I cried in complete disbelief. How does a woman like myself, having been totally dependent on a man, make a living? With three small children and a once wealthy ex-husband on the verge of bankruptcy, how was I going to take care of us all? I had not worked in many years and the best I could find was a resale shop close by that successfully sold all my clothes on consignment, I thought, “Great, I can pay the rent, electricity and insurance for another month.” They hired me on and paid me $7.00 an hour, but I knew I had stumbled upon something much bigger: My ultimate career.
I noticed how easily wealthy women would give up their beautiful things and how eagerly others waited to claim these exquisite items.
It was there that I had visions of my own heaven: a beautiful resale shop filled with Great Labels. It would feed my fashion compulsion, as well as others’ love for beautiful clothes. A business was born. I started with what was left of my own personal wardrobe, which sold out very quickly. What a great validation to know that my taste would sell. It was easy for me to say good-bye to my clothes because I knew that better things were around the corner. Soon other women were contacting me, wanting to unload their overstocked closets. It was then that I realized I was not alone.
Now years later, I have a thriving business, and I love it as much now as I did when I first started it. The store is beautiful and elegant…my dream come true. I visit the closets of the rich and famous and pick out what I want to sell – basically, I get to shop for a living! Talk about a high! My store is filled with the likes of Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, and Dolce Gabanna, along with many other top designers du jour. My best find was over 100 pairs of Manolo Blahniks (all new in the box and all current styles). The poor woman needed to make room in her closet for the next hundred pairs that were being shipped out. She buys every style in every color, every season. Think she needs a shoe shrink?
My clientele are women just like me. They love the thrill of the hunt to find that special style item that will give them the fix they need. The good news is that it is at a fraction of the cost. Luxury has no limits here. The women who come to my store spend time here trying on clothes and bonding with other women. They walk out refreshed and ready to conquer the world. Not only am I providing a great service but also I have found a great way to provide well for my children and myself doing something I love. They say do what you love and prosperity will follow! It certainly has for me.
~ Andrea Waters
Great Labels Designer Resale
1126 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401