For the world’s most famous personal shopper — or rather the go-to person for sourcing items that are sold-out, hard-to-find or from a previous season — the magic is in the details.
Gab Waller has not only disrupted the luxury fashion space, she has created an entirely new industry based on fashion sourcing — a role that quite literally didn’t exist a few years ago when she first built her business as a one-woman show back in Australia, in June 2018. One can refer to Waller’s skills as the sorcery of sourcing — and while she’s proven her skills as the founder of a tremendously profitable business empire, this wizard is happy to share (most) of her tricks.
Today, Waller’s name is associated with sourcing and her brand has become synonymous with securing anything — nothing is out of reach. With a celebrity roster like the Kardashians, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Lilly Aldridge, Jen Atkin, Hailey Bieber, and many more, Waller relocated from Australia to Los Angeles in 2021 to establish her headquarters. And although she has a celebrity clientele, her brand ethos is about “making everyone feel like a VIP.”
This is a testament to why Waller has not only grown her business from a solo operation to a current staff of 10 (that’s still growing!), but also secured stories in every top fashion and insider publication, from Vogue Australia and Harper’s Bazaar, to WWD and The CFDA.
Here’s how her business works: clients send Gab Waller a DM via Instagram (to @gabwallerdotcom), with an image of the item they’re requesting, as well as details such as size and color. They pay Waller a base rate — and then it’s detective hunting time for Waller and her team to locate the item — or what she refers to as any “leads” — usually within 48 hours. It’s this kind of attention to detail that has helped Waller reach the level of global success she has reached today.
These investigative skills are a key component to her success, because often DM messages only include a photo, without the item’s brand name. Waller has a superhero-like ability to zoom in on any clues and put together all the puzzle pieces.
This skill set is one she honed early on, back in one of her first jobs in the immigration department in her native Australia, while working for the government. While it helped sharpen her skills for tracking down information, she soon realized she was way too creative for that career path.
“I was drawn to fashion early on because I was living in a small town — Rockhampton — and I wanted to find ways to stand out,” Waller shares. “I used fashion as a way to be a little unique, so I always enjoyed finding pieces that no one else was wearing.”
After pivoting to fashion (she started in styling and then moved to fashion sourcing — which at the time was more widely recognized as personal shopping), Waller struck gold in 2019 when her client, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, posted a Celine coat that Waller had located for her. Whiteley shouted out to Waller and her IG handle in the post’s caption, and the rest is history.
Waller’s business is built on the notion of wanting what’s in demand and hard to secure. It’s the thrill of the hunt and human nature — and Waller’s business is proof of concept that hype culture is real.
There’s also a forecasting element to her business, where Waller has her finger securely on the pulse of what’s going to be in-demand, based on the requests she’s getting and how well she knows her clientele. Whenever she shares these luxury, highly coveted items on her IG account’s stories, as part of her series now known as “Immediate Shipment Pieces,” her community goes wild and they sell out instantly. “The only reason we don’t do it regularly is because our DMs blow up!” Waller shares.
These purchases, as well as her now growing team, are her only overhead — making Waller wildly successful as the founder of an empire, fashion maestro to a global roster of clients, and head of a company whose growth is proof that sourcing is the future of fashion.
“I’m a strong believer that sourcing is the future of luxury shopping — and I want to continue to pioneer that,” Waller asserts. “We’ve seen how e-commerce and resale has disrupted and transformed the fashion industry, and it’s now time for sourcing to do the same. This is a whole new career within the industry that didn’t exist only a few years ago. I wholeheartedly believe sourcing is the future, and the growth in my business has demonstrated that.”
Let’s look at this growth, shall we?
-As of May 2022, growth of the company has been over 1,000%.
-From 2019 to 2021, her company demonstrated a 830% increase over two years. As for Net Profit Growth from 2019 to 2021, it indicates an increase of nearly 10 times, over two years).
Waller continues: “When I launched in 2018, this industry did not exist. And I think that for some clients, time is a massive reason for my success. Nobody has the time to go and scour multiple other stores, searching for the items. The luxury consumer just wants easy, fast and anything to save time.”
The pandemic was also a huge tipping point for Waller’s business:
“I think COVID really demonstrated just how much success a business model such as mine can have. The fact that the world had shut down, but my business was absolutely booming, and I was doing it from my lounge chair was a testament to say that this is the future of shopping. The fact that anyone could just DM a personal shopper and have Chanel delivered to their door — there’s nothing else like that.”
Although she made her name thanks to her reputation as the personal shopping maestro to celebrities, everything about Waller’s business model is built on the premise of approachability: from the college student looking for the latest pair of hype sneakers, to the bride dreaming of a specific pair of heels for her special day. With Instagram DM as the prime method of communication, there’s no barrier to entry in this world — it’s not exclusive to celebrities and execs.
Another reason the attention to detail is so crucial to Waller and those on her team, is the fact that the company deals on a global scale, which means constantly dealing with exchange rates and foreign currencies. (She recently introduced USD as a form of payment, as Waller had always dealt in Australian dollars.) The addition of Zelle as a payment method is also something her client base appreciates.
Everything that Waller and her team execute is done with attention to detail, and the utmost of care and TLC (from the personable nature of dealing with clients on Instagram, to the personal notes that Gab writes with her deliveries).
“I guess my thought process on this has always been that it’s an Instagram-based business,” Waller explains. “This boils down to my attention to detail — I have the firmest, most strict policy when it comes to my DMs and the way we organize it, so that a message has never, ever been missed.”
Waller has also built her business on the value of relationships and cultivating them with care, with everyone from her clients to the contacts at the brands she deals with directly, and who she now has on speed dial.
And that’s why Waller wants to give back and not “gate-keep” her secrets to success: mentorship has become a key value for her and is something she does regularly (one of the avenues is via the app, Intro, which allows users to book 15 minutes of Q&A with Waller to pick her brain on building a brand — the truth is, while she’s considered a fashion sourcer, her skill set is applicable to any aspiring business founder).
Along with tremendous growth comes the need to expand her team, and Waller continues to do that with yet another job opening in Los Angeles.
“I never believed I’d be sitting in Los Angeles right now, with a global clientele. All I ever wanted to do was just work for myself. That was a big thing. And I thought I had some potential with this new company as I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but I certainly didn’t think that it would get here. So yes, it’s pretty crazy.”
Or some would say, it’s magic.