As a self-proclaimed “localista”, that is to say, a connoisseur and lover of all things local, I have had a difficult time finding cute, quality clothing from local stores that won’t break my bank (still paying my student loans over here, yo).
When I started this blog and posted my first Instagram photos, I was getting a lot of recommendations to follow Columbus restaurants, bars, other bloggers, and some boutique clothing stores….which is how I came across The Gemma Shop!
I was so excited when I browsed The Gemma Shop’s collection of adorable tops, sweaters, dresses, and more, because the price point was perfect. Then, I clicked on the “Meet Lauren” page under the store’s About section, and I fell even more in love with The Gemma Shop and the vision behind it.
Lauren Williams, owner of The Gemma Shop, decided that after several years of having worked as a buyer in corporate retail, that she would fulfill her lifelong desire to start her own boutique clothing business. It was a pivotal moment in her life, as her second daughter was recently born, and she was feeling more than ever the pull to work for herself which would thereby afford her to work from home and spend more time with her two girls.
And so The Gemma Shop was born. Lauren has been in the game for just over seven months, but the buzz surrounding her shop was all around the town, and business has been going strong. She’s had a lot of support from the community, and there have been a few other Columbus blogs to feature her story as well (Columbus residents truly know how to support local).
The name “Gemma” comes from the Italian word for “gem”, which Lauren chose because she feels that each of her items are gems, especially because she only stocks a small amount of each item in each size: when an item is gone, it’s gone for good.
The Gemma Shop does not have a brick-and-mortar storefront, but instead an online as well as a pop-up presence. This lends to the charm of Lauren’s boutique, and has allowed The Gemma Shop to receive traffic that it might not have otherwise. This is another nod to the store’s name, because the pop-ups transform The Gemma Shop into a hidden gem.
I met Lauren when she had a pop-up shop in an empty unit in the Worthington Mall for a couple of weeks around Thanksgiving. This type of pop-up, one that is in the heart of a community and in a completely open storefront, is Lauren’s preferred type. She hopes that her shoppers can feel as though they are shopping in a permanent boutique. The Gemma Shop’s entire collection is on display in one place, and the shoppers can peruse with ease. Lauren also loves to partner with some of her favorite small businesses, like Meza Wine Shop, to create the ultimate shopping experience. Shoppers can browse clothing and wine racks alike, all while sipping a glass of their favorite wine.
Lauren hand selects each of the items she stocks, and is very intentional about choosing products that are going to suit and flatter buyers of all ages and body types. She attends trade shows all over the country where she selects all of the hottest trades for her shoppers. Lauren wants to show all her patrons that you don’t have to be a fashion blogger to feel and look like a million bucks. Her goal is that, within the next year, The Gemma Shop will have a plus size collection, and in later years, menswear and children’s wear collections as well.
Like many other small business owners, Lauren has experienced challenges and difficulties, but she takes each one in stride, counting herself lucky to be able to learn from these challenges, and improve her business from there.
In my short time chatting with Lauren, I could tell how passionate she is and how much she cares about what she does and what it means for the local community. Despite the fact that she has what seems like a packed schedule, Lauren makes time to give back. She is especially excited about her upcoming mentorship of a young, budding entrepreneurs through The Young Entrepreneurs Academy as well as becoming a mentor to adult entrepreneurs as well, through the SCORE program.
It’s incredibly heartening to see the growth of a small business in a world where big business seems to rule. Lauren attributes much of her success to the support of the Columbus community, but also to her husband and family. Isn’t that a testament to the fact that even with tremendous talent, immense drive, the correct skill set and smarts for the field, we all need the backing of the community around us in order to flourish?
Be sure to check out The Gemma Shop’s last pop-up shop of 2016, which will be this coming Sunday, December 18th, at Meza Wine Shop (48 N State St, Westerville) from 11AM to 6PM. Make sure you get there early to make sure you get your favorite items in the size you need! There will also be candles, jewelry, and other gift items if you still (like me) need to buy some Christmas gift.
See you there!
The Little Localista