Each week we will be highlighting one of the fabulous emerging designers from Phoenix Fashion Week 2017. This week, meet fashion designer Gwen Bates, the owner of GFASH, exhilarating fashion jewelry for today’s confident woman.
Hometown: San Diego, CA
First fashion job: I never had a fashion job per say other than my jewelry business. I worked in retail for a short time and enjoyed the benefits and discounts. I typically worked in corporate and independent contractor type jobs as I enjoy leadership.
When did you know you had a passion for fashion: I have always had a knack for styling myself and others. I would go shopping with my mom to simply pick out her clothes. She would go to the dressing room and I would bring multiple outfits to her until she was happy with a few selections.
The passion to create jewelry developed as I wanted something nice for myself that people would not believe was made by hand. So I made my signature chunk bracelet, which is the biggest and shiniest in the collection. I designed the item like this because I rarely had the opportunity to go out due to having kids in my twenty’s and a homebody spouse. So every time I had the opportunity to dress up, no matter how few or far in between…I made sure I was over the top fabulous. I didn’t know when that opportunity would present itself again so I made the most of it. Thus, beginning my passion for “blingin” fashion. Since then the pieces continued to accumulate and a style was born.
Person who has impacted your life the most: A friend of mine impacted my life and business dramatically because she asked a question that made me stop and think. I used the tag line “for confident women.” in my business before it was called GFASH. This friend asked me was I confident in what I was doing and I hesitated to answer quickly, and she replied, “that doesn’t sound confident,” and she giggled. It showed me a significant flaw as a business owner and person. In order to have a successful vision people believe in or to be a great leader, you have to believe in yourself first.
From that moment on, I learned to approach decisions and life differently and really understood what confidence is. It is conviction in who you are, what you stand by and belief in yourself no matter what. Figuring it out impacted my decision making process as an individual and the tone of my business now.
Your biggest fashion accomplishment in your eyes: My biggest fashion accomplishment was coordinating a vendor event with my first ever fashion show. The vendor event was to highlight female inspired businesses and products. The event was a hit and I was recognized for establishing the first ever GLAM vendor marketplace by the Union Tribune and La Jolla Fashion Files. I also received a beautiful plaque. This is an accomplishment to me as I didn’t realize how big the event was until I received feedback that the event empowered just about all the participants.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: The biggest obstacle I have overcome and am still working on is a family, life and work balance. I have learned that working hours are working hours and when you work, work smart and efficiently.
A Designer who inspires you: Sherri Hill inspires me because she has the most beautiful gowns I have ever seen. Collection after collection she is consistent with her target, look, brand image and the emotion her storyline tells on the runway. Her quality is superb and she appears to be humble.
Favorite quote: “Style comes in all shapes and sizes, therefore; the bigger you are, the more style you must have”. Miss Piggy
Advice to someone pursuing a career in fashion as a designer: Do- be who you are creatively but always be willing to accept constructive criticism and apply it. Do not – start a fashion business without a budget and plan for cash flow.
Favorite piece you have ever designed: Sassy Barbie Bracelet – Love looking at it, makes me smile!
For more information and to shop GFASH, visit gfashnow.com.
If you would like to attend Phoenix Fashion Week 2017, you can purchase tickets here: bit.ly/PHXFW2017FABAZ. Use promo code FABAZ for a $20 gift card good towards any seat (not applicable towards standing room tickets).