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Business///The Great Dame

Clothes with confidence The Great Dame’s style is far from lame Story and photos by Lee Ann Jastillana

Huge, busy clothing stores can easily turn into a nightmare. In addition to the tangled hangers and long lines, you’re dodging someone every second, you can’t decide between two dresses you’ve salvaged and your best friend isn’t responding to any of your texts. The Great Dame, a Guam-based online boutique, attempts to provide a solution to these all-too-familiar shopping hassles.

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pened last December, the clothing store offers free styling appointments at its showroom in Hagåtña. Customers who book an appointment can shop exclusively at the showroom, go for fittings or receive styling advice for an event. Justine Gaminde, founder and owner of The Great Dame, feels that it’s important to offer styling consultations to unsure shoppers that need a second opinion. In addition, she wanted to offer a more exclusive experience for her customers, allowing them to shop the showroom solo. Booking an appointment is quick and straightforward. Clients log onto The Great Dame website and request an appointment through the “Style Me” page. After a customer completes the consultation request, Gaminde confirms the appointment through a phone call or by email. Her busiest days are typically Thursday and Friday, and consist of four or five appointments. She allots at least an hour per person but says that appointments take longer. The showroom is stocked with trendy pieces like matching sets, wrap dresses, rompers and jumpsuits. Customers primarily tell her what they want to try on before coming to the showroom. For customers that haven’t decided on an outfit, Gaminde first has them pull items off the rack and then discusses their selections afterwards. Having affirmation from a second set of eyes boosts her customers’ confidence in the outfits they purchase. Although it isn’t required, Gaminde recommends signing up as a Great Dame member before an appointment. Should a customer wish to make a purchase at the end of the appointment, already being a member would speed up the check-out process. Customers usually end up making a purchase after their consultations, but Gaminde says they don’t have to. Many women who are curious about her brand or interested in checking out

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pieces in person want to just take a look around the showroom, and she welcomes that. Inventory is limited, and once an item is sold out, Gaminde does not restock. Working with five vendors, she carefully selects clothing pieces that fit her brand’s aesthetic — aspirational, classy and confident. “A great dame is not scared to wear what she wants to wear,” she says. From flowy dresses to camo-print pants, Gaminde’s personal style changes depending on the current fashion trends and her mood. She considers herself an early adopter of style trends, and the clothes she sells reflect this. The Great Dame’s styling appointments help customers find their personal style by allowing them to have creative direction. For clients looking to put an outfit together for an event, Gaminde will try to get a feel for their style by asking her customers what outfits they typically gravitate toward and what clothing styles they’d like to wear for the upcoming occasion. Gaminde notices that women on Guam can be hesitant to wear what they want for fear of being judged. Through her appointments, she hopes to help Guamanian women build confidence in the clothes they wear. “People are afraid to stand out, but I feel like it doesn’t matter — it doesn’t matter how old you are and it doesn’t matter what your body type is, you can always look good,” Gaminde says, “There’s no excuse to not look good.” For Gaminde, with the right clothes and the right attitude, anyone can pull off any look. Having the outfit everyone at the event is buzzing about is the ultimate goal. “I think that’s kind of going back to what The Great Dame represents,” Gaminde says. “You walk into a room, and you’re wearing the outfit that turns heads.”

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