Clothing By: Mark Zunino Atelier | Photography By: Steve Ragland | MUA: Erica Bessinger
As I watched her walk elegantly down the steps to the cliffside Malibu location, I was struck by her beauty and grace. Here is this tall, beautiful woman with team in tow, walking the path as if she was walking a runway in Milan.
From the moment I met Gayle, it was clear to me that this incredible woman cared deeply about each person who came into her life – a trait which has allowed her to be the leading stylist and image consultant to so many of Los Angeles’ most powerful people.
Following an extraordinary photo shoot, I was fortunate for the opportunity to sit down with this stunning and always-grateful woman to talk modeling, fashion, and the impact providing the gold-standard of styling has on her powerful clients.
Q: What is your background? How did you get started with image consulting and becoming a stylist?
GTD: I can trace my passion for fashion all the way back to my childhood. I had always loved the beautiful clothes, shoes, accessories and makeup in the fashion magazines as well as the performing arts. Playing dress up and pretending I was a princess was a favorite activity. I dreamed of someday owning racks of beautiful clothing and having something new to wear every day. I remember in kindergarten, my teacher kept a pair of lace high heels in the dress up area and I felt so glamorous and confident in those pumps! I never forgot how a certain dress or a particular pair of shoes could transform the way I felt.
I started to model when I was 16 and pretty soon I was booking print advertisements, TV commercials and calendar shoots. I began modeling for major lingerie and swimwear companies such as La Perla and Gottex, and worked alongside some of the top models in the world like Elle Macpherson and Paulina Porizkova. I also walked the runways around the country for top designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Donna Karan, Caroline Roehm, Carolina Herrera, Nolan Miller and Mark Zunino.
With my background in modeling, people always turned to me for advice on how to dress, organize their wardrobe and apply makeup. So then, it was a natural and organic transition when starting GTD Image Consulting. In the 7 years since I founded my company, I have grown a portfolio of VIP clients in the South Bay region of Los Angeles. And now with GTD’s expansion to the Westside and the Valley we can meet the demands of those communities as well.
Q: At what point did you decide you wanted to turn your passion into a business?
GTD: After years of being the go-to person for all things fashion, one of my acquaintances asked me how much I charge and invited me to network with a group of women. I decided right then and there that I wanted to see my passion through by creating a thriving business of my own. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have had to surround myself with other driven and highly successful entrepreneurs.
Q: What are the current services that you provide to your clients?
GTD: The requests I receive are varied and vast. We specialize in personal and professional image assessments, closet and wardrobe makeovers and concierge styling and shopping. In other words, GTD works with women and men who invest in their image and how they want to be perceived by their network of friends and peers. Each day starts with the inevitable: getting dressed. Putting thought into your wardrobe and having an organized and curated closet makes this process much easier. My company is designed to empower clients to start each day on the right foot…wearing the right shoes!
There is no typical work day for me. When I am with my clients I am dedicated to whatever their needs may be. For example, a client requested I accompany her to Mark Zunino Atelier last week for her fitting. Mark is a good friend who is also a couture designer in Beverly Hills specializing in custom made couture clothing. I know all of my clients’ personal tastes as well as everything that is already in their closet, down to their jewelry and accessories. With that knowledge, I am able to guide my clients to design clothing that looks fabulous on them and to fill the gaps they have in their wardrobe.
Q: Who are your clientele?
GTD: At this level, discretion and trust is paramount. I service a lot of celebrity and high-profile clients who are constantly on the go. They lead such busy and active lives, and truly need and appreciate the kind of services I provide. Image is very important, however it’s not something my clients have the time or energy to worry about. There are so many things that come up every day which require my clients’ attention. Why should they concern themselves with what suit or dress they should wear or what shoes go with what? They need to focus on their event, business, families or life and they hire me to streamline all of the factors which go into their image. My clientele fully understand the importance of being dressed properly for every occasion because after all, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Q: What are some other ways you are able to work within the schedules and lifestyles of this clientele?
GTD: My clients, given their active lifestyles, depend on me for a very personalized luxury service that is also highly streamlined and efficient. Each interaction is solely dedicated to each client and I focus on their specific needs. This may include traveling to their vacation homes to organize and style their wardrobes, or it may include Face Timing or Skyping with them when they are traveling for on-the-go styling advice. A lot of times my clients aren’t even home and I will organize their wardrobe or set out their clothes for the week so everything is ready when they arrive.
Just recently I had two clients text me because they both had red carpet events coming up and wanted to know what they should wear. Because I have a photographic memory, I can recall any of my client’s personal space and their closets, which I design and systemize so I know where everything is. Thus, I am able to put together an entire outfit including shoes and accessories all from memory.
Q: You’ve had so much success in the South Bay region and have built an amazing team. Now, your company is expanding. Where are you expanding to?
GTD: The South Bay community is very tight knit and the support I have had from my clients and friends in Palos Verdes has been incredible. The women and men of the South Bay are laid back (it is a beach community after all!) and I hope to meet more people and help them with their image needs. The Westside and Valley are also wonderful communities and I believe the residents there would truly understand and appreciate what GTD Image Consulting can do for them. Like a lot of other factors in my business, this expansion came organically and feels very natural to me. With such a personalized and dedicated service, I never want my clients to feel like they are being rushed, thus, I have expanded my team so we can always ensure a gold standard of service for each individual client, wherever they may be.
Q: What inspires you?
GTD: My clients inspire me to keep pushing and building my business and to offer a diverse set of services. Building and nurturing relationships is essential to staying true to myself. Due to the intimate space we share when working together, I create unique and special bonds on a very personal level with all of my clients. I care about people deeply, and I feel grateful when I know I have helped improve someone’s quality of life. As a business owner and mother, I take pride in the fact that I help other business owners and parents focus on what is important to them. Ultimately, the bottom line is I love what I do!