While Wendy Figer was driving to her corporate job in the spring of 2002, a “for lease” sign caught her eye.
“I was born with an entrepreneurial mindset,” says Figer, who holds a degree in marketing and worked in the casino industry and hotel operations. “I love creating experiences and making a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Six weeks after Figer spotted that sign, Gabrielle’s, named after Figer’s daughter, opened in her hometown of Long Beach. Eight months later, thanks to the community’s support, the boutique doubled its retail space to 1,200 square feet.
Hurricane Katrina washed the store away in 2005, but Figer was undeterred and reopened in Biloxi on Popp’s Ferry Road. Although the boutique was forced to relocate, its mission statement has remained unchanged: To be a place where trends begin, generations are connected and customer experiences are individualized.
Describing Gabrielle’s as “a luxury lifestyle store,” Figer says, “We deliver the latest styles in fashion, gifts and home décor while providing personalized customer service to acquire and retain loyal customers.”
To keep inventory fresh, the entrepreneur attends market a minimum of eight times per year in locations including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas and Atlanta. In addition to Gabrielle’s ever-changing stock of apparel, accessories and gifts for all occasions, patrons can build charcuterie boards with its selection of gourmet food items.
“Gabrielle’s target demographic includes those who are passionate about life experiences, value relationships and seek the latest trends,” Figer says.
Attending to the boutique’s clientele is Figer’s team, who call themselves the “Gabrielle’s Girls” and “love each other like family.”
“I believe a job should be three things: 1) joy 2) opportunity 3) bonus, and therefore, I deliver what I believe,” Figer says. “Coming to work every day is something I truly love.”
The boutique owner is excited to announce that in the fall, Gabrielle’s will expand its men’s and women’s lines with additional designers, in addition to adding items for babies and children, cosmetics and additional home décor and gift selections. Another development is Gabrielle’s Trendsetters — a fashion board composed of high school juniors and seniors from the Coast who are chosen based on a panel interview, an essay submission, minimum grade-point average, community involvement, leadership skills and passion for fashion.
Trendsetters will host an annual fashion show to raise money for a local charity, volunteer in local communities, host guest speakers and attend social events. Gabrielle’s will honor a graduating senior with a $500 scholarship.
Whatever the future holds for her business, Figer pledges to stay true to its founding principles of fashion, community, integrity, service, and leadership.
“I strongly believe it is a community that makes a small business successful,” she says. “I am truly blessed and attribute my success to the love and support of my community, family, friends, top-notch staff and our lovely, loyal customers.”
IF YOU GO
1765 Popps Ferry Road, Suite G, Biloxi
Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.