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May 2014

A Unique Optique

An eclectic neighborhood filled with artistic, eccentric minds finds its home about 5 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Wedged next to East Hollywood, Silver Lake boasts a creative and trendy community filled with cafes, bars and shops along the famous Sunset Boulevard. Paying homage to innovation with a unique name and philosophy, Gogosha Optique fits perfectly with Silver Lake’s reputation by encompassing all of these attributes, yet still finding a way to perfectly blend passion and originality. At just 18 years old, Julia Gogosha Clark found her love for eyewear at a young age. Starting out as a representative for brands such as Theo, Anne et Valentin and Kirk Originals, Gogosha felt there was something missing from the Los Angeles eyewear sector, where she has been based since 2003. Feeling disheartened by the lack of unique eyewear options available in LA, Gogosha took a chance that would elevate Silver Lake’s creative demeanor to the next plateau. Enter Gogosha Optique.

—Victoria Garcia


20/20: What made you want to open a store specifically in Silver Lake?

Julia Gogosha Clark: The neighborhood itself is a very transitional neighborhood, and it has been for well over a decade. We are in a very strange location, on a very weird block. On one side of us is a gourmet little market, and on the other side of us is refrigerator repair. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. It’s been six years with no signs of changing. But it has a very organic-build, and the people who live here have been here for a really long time. It hasn’t been a very desirable place forever, it has been for me but it doesn’t have a cache like Beverly Hills does or anything like that. It’s very much a neighborhood, but it’s a neighborhood to me of people who are the engine behind Los Angeles. They are the creative of Los Angeles. They are people that make everyone and everything beautiful. They are the people that make everything function. They are the grips, the designers, the stylists and the architects.


What was your approach when designing the layout for the store?
Truly, my main thing was for the frames to be the focus and for the customer to be able to have a flow when we try on things, so that we can move from one station to another. We wanted it to be a more intimate space so we actually cut the space in half, which for most people is so counterintuitive.


How do you help your customers have a more personal experience while shopping at your store?
We don’t just greet people. We want to get to know them, welcome them and talk to them. It’s not a passive experience. It’s very engaged. We like to have different perspectives so we don’t like to stay static for too long and sit in one place or stand in one place. I think the reason we have such a loyal following other than we have amazing frames and a great experience is that people like the way they look through my eyes. I see them with all their good. I see everything that is beautiful and everything that is really cool. I see how they present themselves and who they actually are rather than what they bring out to the world.


What impact has social media played on your business?

We’ve been on social media from the beginning. So we started with Tumblr, then it was Facebook, then Instagram and now it’s Twitter, and we use all of them now. It’s because we opened cold. I wasn’t an optician in another store where I had a following. Nobody outside of a buyer in a store knew who I was, nobody. It was really just a way for us to communicate on a daily basis who we are and what our customers look like. I wanted to show everybody. I wanted to show who these people are and kind of celebrate their choices of frames that they decide to wear and to buy. People responded to it, it just seemed like a natural thing.


What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
I can’t speak for how other people do their business, and I think that’s the great thing about this industry is that we know our clients. It’s one of the only industries where you are actually looking someone in the eye for an extended period of time. There’s no other kind of retail experience where you are looking at someone—really engaging with someone for that amount of time. It enables you to actually get to know our customers, which is awesome. It’s from a really genuine place. We really care about them.

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