Women of Style: Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor
Longtime business partners and real-deal BFFs, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor never fail to inspire us with their unparalleled business sense, cool California-inspired style and dedication to their family and friends. From their edgy yet effortless clothing line Pam & Gela, to their forthcoming book, The Glitter Plan, which recounts their experience ‘starting Juicy Couture for $200 and turning it into a global brand’, this glamorous duo continue to make their mark on the industry (while having a bit of fun, too). Get to know Pam and Gela in today’s Women of Style interview.
Their Very First Jobs
Pamela Skaist-Levy: "My first job was in high school working at my dad's office - he is a doctor. That should have been my first clue that it was not going to be a good fit. I was tasked with filling out charts but I spent most of my time redecorating the file room, peeling the hideous wallpaper off the walls. Shortly after the wallpaper incident I was gently asked to find a job that was more suited to my artistic pursuits. In reality, I got fired by my father's office manager. Lesson learned, do what you love and you will do it well."
Gela Nash-Taylor: "My first job was in the summer working in a tiny coffee shop in Port Huron, Michigan when I was 14 years old. My thought at the time was: “this is amazing, clothes for the summer festivals!" The reality, and what I learned other than how to earn tips and predict who would give the best ones, was that I was going to have to get creative in order to get my dream summer wardrobe together. Thus began my love affair with thrifting...and a lifelong habit of over-tipping in a major way!"
How They Met
GNT: "We met working at a super-cool boutique in LA. We were covering for a friend who went to rehab. Such a funny LA story. Anyway, we became fast friends. After 25 years of being partners and taking this incredible ride together, we are closer than sisters."
Before Juicy Couture
PSL: "Yes we had a business called Travis Jeans (for the baby in you). It was a maternity company named after Gela's son Travis. That business was not a success but we learned a ton."
How They Collaborate
GNT: "We love to bounce ideas off each other and push each other to make the product better. It's been 25 years so it's really kind of instinctual at this point. We're a well-oiled machine."
PSL: "We also have the same gut instincts when it comes to our team. We like a family feeling and surround ourselves with people we trust and love. Our current team is made up of many of the same people we started Juicy Couture with - they are insanely talented and lifelong friends."
GNT: "Having such a loving and loyal team makes it all pretty fun and seamless. They know what we are into and we know their strengths and how to get them to soar. We are natural collaborators and we are good about letting people do what they were hired to do. It's a lovefest at Pam and Gela and that's how we like it."
Business Versus Friendship
GNT: "There are no boundaries, we are true BFFs. We start everyday with a 6:30am phone call talking about what kept us up at night or what needs to be done that day, or simply what we are going to wear if we have an event that night. We love to talk; nothing is better than a beach walk at Pam’s house in Malibu followed by a shopping trip at Cross Creek and dinner at Nobu."
The Success Of Juicy Couture
PSL: "Like everything we do, it always begins with what we are dying to wear. Casual Luxury was the vibe for Juicy Couture. We loved the ease of comfortable yet chic clothes. Being fully engulfed in the Southern California lifestyle and finding amazing fabrics with a buttery soft feel and a rockin' fit was what the brand was all about. Our first hit was a chic v-neck that was reminiscent of our childhood tees in the '70s (think: Charlie's Angels). We just kept going with that philosophy of fit, fabrication and color."
GNT: "Ultimately we hit on the track suit which struck a major chord with women around the world. It came at a time when women’s roles were vastly changing and the track suit could take you shopping with a pair of trainers, to dinner with a little Chanel Jacket and Manolo kitten heels - anywhere, really. The world followed LA in dressing more casually embracing comfort and fit. We made athletic wear fashionable for the modern woman. It was an avalanche!"
Their New Line
PSL: "As with Juicy Couture, the inspiration for Pam & Gela started with what we were dying to wear. That has to be the impetus for everything we do because everything we do is so autobiographically us. When designing we always ask ourselves would we wear it? Spring '14 is boho with an edge. One of the iconic looks is a modern day track suit paired with python gladiators. We also embraced boho dresses, biker jackets and track pants in gorgeous fabrics."
Shop The Spring Collection
Growing The Brand
GNT: "We plan to grow it organically just like we did Juicy Couture by giving our girl the perfect fit, color and fabrication. We hope to have a kick ass shoppable website and app this year and add shoes and bags to the line in 2015 or 2016. We make all of our shoes for each collection and are obsessed with accessories in general so it's a natural next step."
The Release Of 'The Glitter Plan'
PSL: "With all of the excitement over the years it was too tempting not to document our story. The book is part memoir, part business manual. We wanted the reader to take a trip with us and feel like if we can do it, they can do it too.”
GNT: “Our story at the end of the day is a fairytale about two local girls with a dream. The lesson is that dreams do come true. That said, Juicy was not an overnight success. It took many years to build the brand and find our legs."
Style & Personal Life
Their Personal Style
PSL: "Maximalism to the tenth power. We have been collecting vintage clothes for over 30 years. We wear casual luxury from our own collections 90% of the time, those perfect staples are mixed with Hermes cuffs, Balmain jackets, tribal jewelry or any other finery we are into at the moment."
GNT: "When purchasing designer pieces we are careful to pick items that we will wear for years to come. We don't believe in disposable clothing and love when people come up to us and say that they have clothes from our first collection, 'they are made so well'. Those were the days when Juicy Couture was made in the glamorous USA."
What Makes Them Feel Glamorous
PSL: "My Prada rainbow coat. I love it so much I named it Miss Rainbow Bright. I even wear it with sweats."
GNT: "Some kind of hair ornament, it can make any evening look seem glam."
PSL: "We are product junkies. Aromatherapy is super-important. I love lavender for night and travel and eucalyptus for an extra jolt in the morning. Guerlain's Lumiere foundation is sheer and amazing and, for under eyes, I love Laura Mercier's Brightening Illuminator. Other makeup obsessions: Tom Ford's eye palette in Golden Mink, Bobbi Brown eyeliner in Chocolate Shimmer, Armani Eyes to Kill mascara. I always line the inside of my eyes with a Chanel nude liner for a brighter look."
GNT: "I am crazy for Nars Illuminator in Orgasm or their new Hot Sand color, which is insane! I love all nude lip colors including Tom Ford Vanilla Suede and MAC Innocent lip polish pencil. I take makeup off with something ultra-moisturizing like Eve Lom cleanser, Rodin facial oil or Vasoline and then slather Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream all over my face and neck. Those products all smell divine!"
Shop Their Medicine Cabinets
- Balm Cleanser Eve Lom, $135
- Illuminator in Hot Sand NARS, $30
- Bath Oil Collection Aromatherapy Associates, $58
- Eyes To Kill Volume Mascara Giorgio Armani, $32
- Luxury Face Oil Rodin, $150
- Secret Brightener Laura Mercier, $30
- Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner Bobbi Brown, $24
- Vanilla Suede Lip Color Tom Ford Beauty, $49
How They Find Balance
PSL: "We have always said it is nearly impossible to have it all. Something has to give. You try and balance it all, but it's not easy. The most important tool is a sense of humor and perspective."
Los Angeles Living
GNT: "Living in California is really the ultimate luxury. We love the weather and the nature - and people watching is really fun too. Cali has an anything-goes vibe. From hiking in the beautiful hills above Malibu to vintage shopping in Silver Lake, there is something for everyone."
3 Things We Didn't Know About Pam & Gela
1.) "We ran our business until we were $600 million in sales."
2.) "We eat Sour Patch Kids everyday."
3.) "We hate mean girls. We are totally girls girls."