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Community Highlights: Meet Francine Wathelet of Gigi Moda

Today we’d like to introduce you to Francine Wathelet.

Hi Francine, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Welcome to Gigi Moda and our Italian-made clothing for women, where our goal is to provide the highest quality and largest selection of quality fashion for women. Gigi Moda is based in Carlsbad, California; we offer the perfect marriage between coastal lifestyle and effortless chic. Our purpose is to provide women of all ages with comfortable, ready-to-wear clothes with a fashionable Italian flair. Our clothing is made using the highest standards in textile sustainability and best manufacturing practices in Italy.

Well-known Belgian designers/Stylists Francine Wathelet and Laurent Hebbelinck are the co-founders of Gigi Moda. Gigi Moda was born in 2015 and today is a recognized brand and a leader in the fashion industry. Our Italian fashions can be found in over a thousand boutiques across the United States. We believe color, quality and the softest fabrics keep anyone in great spirits. Our silks, linens and other natural fabrics provide durability and quality. All our clothing is hand-dyed with natural colors and pigments. We keep our production volume small in order to ensure the best possible quality and treatment of our delicate fabrics. As each item is handmade and hand-dyed, colors may vary from shipment to shipment; each batch is truly one-of-a-kind.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
We have faced many challenges in starting and growing Gigi Moda. Our main challenges have been: 1. Standing out in a crowded market. There are many manufacturers copying the latest trends. We work hard to stand out from the competition.

2. Finding customers and keeping those customers is something we are always working on. We have to keep our styles unique and update very frequently to keep them coming back.

3. Maintaining cash flow can be a challenge at times. The fashion industry has many ebbs and flows and is very seasonal. Having to pay for production before you ship and get paid is something we keep a very close eye on.

4. Rising costs of production. The costs of materials rises all the time, as do our overhead expenses. We are also dealing with increased shipping costs which we try to absorb as best as we can.

5. Copyright infringements are difficult to monitor in the fashion industry, but we are constantly monitoring various websites to solve this challenge.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Gigi Moda?
As co-founder immigrants, my husband Laurent Hebbelink and myself have combined our many years of business experience to grow Gigi Moda. We are different because the Gigi Moda brand is entirely handmade in Italy. We add new styles every 2 weeks. Our attention to details, the latest styles and trends keeps us ahead of our competition.

The growth we have seen over the last five years since we started has been breathtaking. Being a small business, we are able to make changes to our operations quickly and efficiently. We are always updating our processes to accommodate changes. The Gigi Moda brand is exclusively handmade women’s clothing in Italy. We also focus on natural fabrics, with silk and linen being very popular with our customers.

What matters most to you?
Keeping our wholesale and retail customers happy is our #1 concern. We want them to enjoy their shopping experience with us and we want them coming back.

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