The Window Shop Shop Local Initiative
The Sorelle Story
I have been fortunate to live in a place where so much is always going on. I grew up on the North Shore of Long Island in the picturesque town known as Oyster Bay. I don’t always get the chance to put out personal articles however when I got the idea to begin this initiative I knew I wanted to make it personal.
South Street in Downtown Oyster Bay is a prominent and popular location for local businesses ie; restaurants, boutiques, and small shops. One of those boutiques in particular is a fashion-forward destination for the ultimate consumer, Sorelle Oyster Bay. Sorelle was started by entrepreneur, Gabrielle Fumai who got her inspiration from her mother. Gabrielle stated that “it was [her] mom, Cindy, who inspired [her] sisters and [her] the most growing up”. Gabrielle further explained that it was from her mother that she learned “how to style herself and others”. This is where her story takes off, she stated that her mother, sisters, and overall sense of family are what motivated her to take a risk. Gabrielle told The Window Shop about what led her to taking the leap of faith and starting the business, “I got really serious about wanting to become my own boss” she said, “[I wanted to] pursue a more creative role after leaving my last corporate fashion position in the Fall of 2017.” Gabrielle explained that she got the idea from shopping in consignment stores when she was young, she loved the idea of getting high-end, luxury fashion for less. She told us that the whole process of opening the business happened quickly. “Looking back” she started, “I’m actually amazed at how fast the idea came to fruition. I went from signing a lease of an uninhabitable space to opening my doors within 4 months. For that I have to thank my family and friends. I couldn’t have done it without the love, support and the frequent trips to IKEA.” Gabrielle shared that she is constantly “grateful” to her family for helping her with this endeavor.
The name Sorelle was what came later. Gabrielle disclosed to us that “Sorelle means “sisters” in Italian” and that it “now seems to be a double entendre” she went on to saying that “[she] originally intended the store name to embody how [she] and [her] sisters would pass clothes on to one another.” Gabrielle smiled saying “we truly supported all of those sayings like ‘what is old becomes new’ and ‘one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure’.” The love and connection Gabrielle and her sisters share truly promotes and exemplifies the meaningful story behind Sorelle. “Now, after 10 months,” she began, “the meaning behind Sorelle is starting to feel a bit bigger than that. We have met and styled so many inspiring women that it feels like we are a part of a larger sisterhood.”
Gabrielle has a background working in retail and told us that “while building the store [she] listened to a lot of podcasts from the series called ‘How I Built This’.” As a result, the store itself is beautiful, everything perfectly lined up in neat little rows. There is a certain ambiance and charm the boutique holds, you notice it as soon as you open the door. Gabrielle attributes some of her success to her years living in the city and learning a great deal working up the corporate fashion ladder there. “I do believe I could have opened Sorelle without my time spent in corporate fashion,” she began, “but it surely would not have been the same. I will avoid mistakes in this business because I most likely already made them. I use many tools and skills that I have picked up along the journey of my career, and I believe it shows within the store brand and the way I run the business.” Gabrielle is extremely professional and runs her business with a great amount of passion and drive. Having a local business of this caliber is a true treat.
Previous generations of Gabrielle’s family lived in Oyster Bay so she is familiar with the town. She discussed what it feels like to be back, owning a business right in town after having lived in the city for a while. Gabrielle said that she “absolutely loves being back” and finds it “very cool to know that [she’s] walking on the same streets that [her] grandparents used to.” One of her favorite things about being in Oyster Bay is taking pictures in her styled outfits all over town. Styled by Sorelle is a term she came up with to tag her photos. People on instagram have really taken to it, “you might notice” she started, “that I try to take styled photos all over Oyster Bay. I especially love some of the shots taken at Bonanza’s Hot Dog Stand.” Gabrielle does an outstanding job of styling a look that goes perfectly with the local character in Oyster Bay. She went on to saying “some of these locations remind me of my childhood whether they have remained the same or changed to something completely different. The new brewery is amazing, but I’ll never forget buying school supplies in the old fashioned Buckingham Variety Store that used to be in its place.” When Gabrielle mentioned the old variety store, Buckinghams I had a flash-back to when I was little and shopped there myself. It is so important to preserve the local stores and boutiques that we have left.
Gabrielle finished by stating “it’s very surreal that I now own a store, but I do have to admit that none of my old downtown memories are related to shopping for luxury fashion. Hopefully I have fixed that void for the current and future generations of women in Oyster Bay.”
We look forward to hearing about the new adventures of Gabrielle and her store, but most importantly we want to show everyone how important it is to shop local and support the small businesses, boutiques, and shops in small communities and towns.