By Victoria Garcia
Silver Lake, Calif.
Number of employees 4
An eyewear guru provides exceptionally personalized customer service along with eye-catching frame options.
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.
After being lured into an optical shop in Birmingham, Mich., 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. “I love the brands that people always told me LA didn’t want,” says Gogosha. “It was just one of those things that was so frustrating to not be able to represent the designers that you really love in your own city, so I decided to take a bet on myself.”
Located right on Sunset Boulevard, the eyewear and sunglass boutique opened six years ago in Silver Lake, where Gogosha found creative and imaginative people just like her. The 800-square-foot store sits in a rather odd location, between a repair shop and gourmet market, a testament to the atmosphere of Silver Lake. “To me it’s a neighborhood of people who are the engine behind Los Angeles,” says Gogosha. “They are the creative, they are the grips and they are the designers, the stylists and the architects. I don’t see it changing anytime soon; it’s been six years with no signs of changing.”
To create a more intimate setting, Gogosha uses only about 500 square feet for the front of the store. This area is filled with over 1,000 frame options including both ophthalmic frames and sunglasses that range from $225 to $1,250. Gogosha was determined to offer distinct brands and creative collections that opticians and buyers in LA believed customers didn’t want. With more than 20 collections to choose from, Salt, Theo, Anne et Valentin, Mykita and Thierry Lasry are some of the most popular. The boutique carries only one licensed brand, Thom Browne. Keeping with fashion-forward merchandise, the boutique carries some accessories and recently just added Kimba chains to their inventory.
Gogosha Optique’s store design leans toward a simple approach, with most of the store dedicated to its remarkable dispensary. “My main thing was for the frames to be the focus,” explains Gogosha. “It wasn’t about the design of it; the design is important but it was really minimal.” In order for frames to make a statement by themselves, wall displays and standing displays are the focal points of the store, featuring drawers filled with various frame options. Drawers are organized by designer and the tops of displays are changed every couple of weeks when new inventory arrives. Despite selling more ophthalmic frames than sunglasses, Gogosha keeps ophthalmic frames in drawers and only displays sunglasses. “There’s a lot more freedom in trying on sunglasses,” she explains. “It’s much more playful.” With a recent redesign, one wall of the store is a “focus wall” where Gogosha displays a rotating installation of artists that she works with, while another wall is used for personalized fittings. The main goal in designing the store is for customers and employees to be able to flow freely while picking out and trying on frames, an ode to an outstanding customer service experience.
Gogosha knows how to go beyond just providing a customer with a new frame. She takes the time and dedication to understand each one of her customers, creating a personalized and unforgettable shopping experience. When customers enter the store, they are immediately welcomed by Gogosha and her team. She prides herself on being actively involved in every aspect of a customer’s visit. “It’s not a passive experience, it’s very engaged,” she explains. “If they want a passive experience, there are hundreds of stores that cater to that way of shopping but that’s not what we do.” When hiring employees, Gogosha looks for people who are comfortable and passionate with what they do. It is important that employees radiate these qualities to customers in order to improve their shopping experience. Once employees are hired, they use what skills they already have and are then taught the ways of Gogosha Optique. “We call it Gogosha-fying,” Gogosha jokes. “They have to be willing to learn how to do it in our manner because you are not behind a counter, and it’s a very different interaction than a lot of places.” Gogosha, along with her employees, guide customers throughout the store while learning about their lifestyle and eyewear needs. Since most frames are stored away, the team picks out various styles and colors for customers to try on after inquiring about preferences and interests. The layout of the optique is perfect for this type of service with different-sized mirrors and focal points scattered across the store so customers can see themselves in different perspectives.
When trying on eyewear and attempting to find the perfect pair, Gogosha understands it can be a tedious and exhausting task but promises to give her honest opinion to each customer. Her ability to see customers with a different outlook and understand their wants and needs is what keeps clients coming back. “You’re kind of being analyzed and looked at by a stranger. It can be really vulnerable for a lot of people.” Gogosha has been praised on her ability to find the perfect frame for any customer, regardless of face shape, silhouettes or lifestyles. “I don’t know any of those things,” she explains. “It’s about reading the person—you have to be intuitive to those things, and it’s just something that takes time to learn.”
A quick look at Gogosha Optique’s social media platforms solidifies its technique in giving clients great service and exclusive products. Since its opening in 2008, Gogosha has created a very active social media presence by engaging with customers and potential new clients. By posting new products, pictures of clients and her stylish “selfies,” Gogosha found a way to interact with her customers and eyewear lovers everywhere. She used these platforms to skyrocket her business to what it is today. “We opened cold; I wasn’t an optician in another store where I had a following.” Gogosha uses social media to communicate with followers on a daily basis and celebrates her current customers by showing their style and what frames they have decided to wear. She is recognized in the industry for her quirky and fun snapshots featuring herself and customers. On her website she posts “Face of the Day” pictures where customers pose in their newly purchased frames. With a location so close to LA, some social media posts feature celebrities who have purchased frames or have visited Gogosha Optique including Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. Rave reviews and positive feedback found on her website and Yelp page prove Gogosha’s personalized approach to customer service is what makes her such a thriving success. “It’s really confirming when you’re yelling into a canyon, and it’s not just an echo. There’s actually someone there hearing something. It’s affirming that something is actually happening.”
There’s no other kind of retail experience where you are really engaging with someone for that amount of time, it’s from a really genuine place, and we really care about them.
With a loyal following and an influx of customer referrals, Gogosha decided to open another location as an aid to her customers. About 7 miles away on West 3rd Street, the second store caters to locals and those visiting the surrounding neighborhoods of Los Angeles. It was opened to serve clients in a different area as well as their friends and families, but with the same voice and vision. “I can’t speak for how other people do their business but I think that’s the great thing about our industry, is that we know our clients,” says Gogosha. “There’s no other kind of retail experience where you are really engaging with someone for that amount of time, it’s from a really genuine place, and we really care about them.”
Gogosha’s devotion to her customers goes far beyond a first fitting. Customers are given a care package of cleaning cloths, lens cleaners and free refills after their purchase and referral cards for their family and friends. Gogosha believes it is her responsibility to inform customers how to care for frames. The cleaning cloths she favors have a special dos and don’ts list printed right on the cloth, giving instructions on how to care for and clean glasses.
Another responsibility that Gogosha has bestowed upon herself is introducing clients to up-and-coming designers. A few times a year, she holds events at the Silver Lake location that introduce new designers and collections or has a specific eyewear designer at the store for people to meet, turning the event into something other than looking at great new frames. “It’s really something they never get to experience,” explains Gogosha. “Having this relationship with designers where they come to the store and meet our clients is really invaluable. It’s really a great thing that we don’t take for granted.” Gogosha only holds a few events per year because of the preparation and effort that goes into each one, making each event more special and exclusive when they happen. However, at the West 3rd location, Gogosha has introduced “Shop-In-Shops,” an event that most store owners wouldn’t even consider. Gogosha and her team redesign the entire store with new furnishings and art and stock the store with only one designer’s frames. Essentially, it is having a trunk show but for an entire month dedicated to one specific designer. The last event featured Oliver and Claire Goldsmith, with more designers soon to follow.
Gogosha has a vision for her business and her customers that is quite uncommon in the industry. She creates a refuge where customers can be themselves while delving into their eyewear wants and needs. Her customer service approach and one-of-a-kind dispensary makes her optiques the perfect place for those looking to step outside of the box. “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, everything that is really cool, and I see how they present themselves and who they actually are, rather than what they bring out to the world.” At 20/20, we see THAT as perfect inner vision. ■