Gaux Girl - Julia Engel2019-10-04
We'd long admired Julia Engel, an influencer who turned her devoted following and on-the-nose style instincts into a fashion company with legs. So, when a compliment turned into a business conversation, we were thrilled to begin work on a collaboration with Gal Meets Glam Collection, the clothing company she helms from her Charleston base.
Followers (including us) have seen Julia grow up, moving from the West Coast to the Low Country, marrying the man who'd morph into her business partner, and, most recently, welcoming her first child, a daughter named Clementine. Working with her proved that she's exactly what you'd expect based on her Instagram presence: hard-working, charming, and the sartorial embodiment of today's timeless feminine style.
Below, our conversation about growing her blog into a lifestyle brand and the ways that motherhood have changed her perspective.
You’ve grown from an influencer to a full lifestyle brand with Gal Meets Glam Collection. Can you speak a bit to how that unfolded?
It’s been an exciting journey so far! In 2011, I launched my blog, Gal Meets Glam, to share pieces that were true to my classic, effortless style. It was through that community and seeing how many other women identified with GMG that I quickly realized there was a hole in the existing market for timeless and romantic dresses at an approachable price. This discovery laid the foundation for Gal Meets Glam Collection, and designing my own pieces became a natural next step for me.
Whether on the blog or with the collection, growth has always been a byproduct of wanting to create high-quality content for our followers and staying true to the Gal Meets Glam brand. I love hearing from my readers and recognize what resonates with them. Every day I focus on designing beautiful, quality dresses, and luckily, our followers—and now customers—believe in that vision, too.
What’s the inspiration behind Gal Meets Glam Collection? When working on the Margaux collaboration, how did you consider the way shoes fit into the GMG universe?
Gal Meets Glam Collection embodies everyday elegance and effortless sophistication. Each monthly collection shows how I capture that vision season-by-season, whether that’s portrayed by a color palette, the type of material befitting the time of year, or inspired by our travels. I’m always thinking about what our woman wants to be wearing that month and why.
The same goes for shoes—they complete the entire look! I’ve always wanted to bring Gal Meets Glam Collection to life head-to-toe and this collaboration was the perfect opportunity to do so.
Gal Meets Glam has such a recognizable aesthetic. What sort of advice would you give to someone who’s striving to identify and develop their own signature style or look?
I’ve always been someone who knew what I liked and why. When I started Gal Meets Glam, I realized even more how much I honed in on a certain style—in all aspects of my life. There is something incredibly liberating about owning what you love and not trying to please anyone else.
My advice would be to experiment and try new things. Don’t feel like you have to put yourself in a box or category; you’re allowed to grow and change. Just focus on what feels natural and makes you happy.
For so many of today’s biggest influencers, building a brand with their partner seems like a key element to success. What’s your experience been like? What are the biggest challenges? How do you find a balance between a business partner and a life partner?
It certainly helps to have someone to hold you accountable and be a constant source of encouragement. [My husband] Thomas has been all of that and much more. He’s been willing to jump in and share his strengths to improve the business since the beginning. We make a great team and both bring something different to the table.
When Thomas first started working full-time on Gal Meets Glam, I had to quickly pivot from this business being “mine” to being “ours.” Any other challenge has always been overcome with upfront communication and by recognizing each other’s strengths and the value we each bring. We love what we do, and we love that we get to do it together. We try to put the other first, make time to be together and touch base before and after we are in the office.
You're a brand-new mother—congratulations! How has motherhood changed your perspective on style and business?
Lately I’ve been thinking about how, in some small way, I want to make the world more elegant for her. This business was always meant to be bigger than myself and having a baby girl makes this mission even more apparent. It makes me think about the kind of woman I want her to be able to look up to.
While pregnant I was thankful for effortless elegance more than ever. Most of our Gal Meets Glam Collection dresses are versatile enough to wear when expecting, and it’s been fun to connect with customers wearing it in the same season of life over this past year. It's influenced what I’m designing for future collections a lot [since] pregnancy brought a whole new meaning to ease and comfort.
Where do you hope to take Gal Meets Glam and Gal Meets Glam Collection next?
We’re looking forward to expanding into different product categories and have an exciting launch coming later this month! We launched last year with just dresses and have been taking our time, trying to be extra thoughtful with the why and when of introducing a new product category. I want each piece to be a seamless fit into the Gal Meets Glam woman’s style.
What does being a girl on the gaux mean to you?
It means my goals and agenda are my number one priority. I don’t let my shoes get in the way with what I’m trying to accomplish that day; effortless, classic and comfortable styles are what I love.
Shop the entire Gal Meets Glam x Margaux collection here.