Q U I C K F A C T S
W E B S I T E: gogosha.com
O W N E R : Julia Gogosha
F O U N D E D : 2008
A R E A : (Silver Lake): 800 square feet
E M P L O Y E E S : 6
T O P B R A N D S : Anne & Valentin, Claire Goldsmith, Oliver Goldsmith, Theo, Thierry Lasry
F A C E B O O K : facebook.com/pages/GOGOSHA-OPTIQUE/49553159522
T W I T T E R: @gogosha
P I N T E R E S T : gogosha
I N S T A G R A M : gogoshaoptique
L.A. eyewear purveyor caters to the creative set
BY MARGIE MONIN DOMBROWSKI
IN LOS ANGELES, where aspiring actors, musicians and other creative spirits are drawn to the hippest ZIP codes, image means everything. But while you can find the latest in fashion and food in L.A., creative eyewear has been harder to come by.
Julia Gogosha saw this as a wide-open opportunity to bring unique eyewear collections by independent designers to Tinseltown. And Gogosha knew her stuff, since she’d spent a decade as a sales rep for eyewear brands Selima, DITA, Anne & Valentin and Theo.
So Gogosha left the rep life and opened Gogosha Optique in 2008. Just east of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, it’s in the heart of L.A.’s artsy Silver Lake community surrounded by offbeat eateries, boutiques and bars. With a list of independent designers of handcrafted and artful eyewear, Gogosha Optique offers roughly 1,000 ophthalmic frames and 300 styles of sunglasses for people who appreciate craftsmanship and have a taste for something out of the ordinary. “I believe there’s a home for these collections in Los Angeles,” says Gogosha. “That’s the beauty of independent design. It’s not made for a market; it’s made with a person in mind.”
And in 2011, Gogosha opened a second store, 7 miles from the original, on West Third Street near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She did it for customer convenience, since — for some, those 7 miles make a big difference. “Some people just won’t cross the 405 [Freeway] or La Brea [Avenue] or Western [Avenue],” Gogosha says.
While the two stores are planted in very different neighborhoods, they cater to the same artistic demographic, and their decor shares a similarly edgy, minimalist vibe.
At the main store on Sunset, opaque walls behind the sleek, metal cash wrap separate the 300-square-foot back office from the 500-square-foot retail portion. An accent wall painted with a geometric pattern becomes the perfect backdrop for customers posing for their “after” selfies. Elbow-height tables and funky powder-coated steel bar stools provide comfortable seating areas for consulting with opticians. With such an intimate setting, opticians work with clients one-on-one to create a positive experience. “There’s very little browsing,” Gogosha says.
“We get to know the person and understand who they are, not just on a superficial level or the look they want, but also how they want to express themselves on any given day,” Gogosha says. An optician might present up to 25 different options in a variety of looks that will complement a person’s facial features and fit their lifestyle. From there, they’ll narrow it down to a few finalists. “When you match the right frame with the right person, both light up,” she adds.
Gogosha’s goal is to make eyewear just as an important accessory as shoes, and she encourages her clients to switch up their glasses on a daily basis. “One day you might feel you want to be minimal, another more playful, or assertive,” she says. “We don’t ever talk in terms of backups. We always talk about wardrobe. ... You have to give them choices.”
To get hired as an optician at Gogosha Optique, a keen eye is mandatory. “That’s what it takes to work at this store,” says Gogosha, “to see people for who they really are and to see the beauty in each person. We don’t see flaws.”
Because Gogosha started from scratch with little more than her industry connections, the optique relies on word-of-mouth advertising and social media to boost business. “It’s not just from the person wearing the frame, but also their social circle,” Gogosha says. “They come to us saying, ‘I want you to do what you did for my friend.’”
“The hope is when people wear their frames, even if they’re having a terrible day, it reminds them of a wonderful experience they had,” Gogosha says. “I like that they have a physical reminder of that.”
After six years, Gogosha remains open to growth, yet she has already accomplished exactly what she set out to do. “People in the industry come to see what collections we carry,” she says. “We’ve become a barometer for what’s next and what’s still great. It’s completely possible to be successful with lines you believe in, serving a demographic you’ve curated.”
Five Cool Things About Gogosha Optique
1. ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: At Gogosha Optique, ophthalmic frames are tucked inside vintage archival file drawers and categorized by designer. Only sunglasses fill the wall displays because “you can play with them more,” says Gogosha. An optician will work with clients, pulling out several options, then walk them over to check themselves out in a full-length mirror where they can make a decision. “The first thing people say is, ‘I wouldn’t have ever chosen those myself.’” And when the final reveal happens, “there’s almost always a hug involved,” Gogosha says.
2. MAKING THE CONNECTION: Living a creative life, connecting with customers and personalizing the retail experience are at the heart of Gogosha Optique’s success. “We’re expressive in how we dress and speak to people, and that’s the kind of people we attract,” Gogosha says. “By the time you pick up your frame, we already know you.”
3. SHOP-IN-SHOPS: Gogosha Optique’s shop-in-shops are special events showcasing collections of select designers for an entire month. All inventory is temporarily cleared away, and the furnishings and decor get changed up to make room for the featured designer’s collection.
4. SELFIE-MOTIVATED: The optique is active on image-centric social media sites including Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, where clients share their latest selfies wearing their new eyewear from Gogosha Optique. If clients don’t have time to drop by, they can also get styling assistance via email. Simply send in a selfie for some suggestions.
5. FAMOUS FACES: With two L.A. locations, Gogosha Optique attracts artists and celebrities. Clients include Quentin Tarantino, John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Nick Thune (LEFT), Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart, and Christina Hendricks, among many others.
F I N E S T O R Y
In 2012, Gogosha Optique owner Julia Gogosha was tapped to help style none other than Sir Elton John for a Pepsi Super Bowl ad. Playing a king in medieval times, John looked regal in a bejeweled cape and a “fun and weird” electric blue pair of Derome Brenner “Stardust 12” frames to match.
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