With a sharp-dressed father and color-loving mother, Ocean City, NJ, native and LA-based Gina Binder always felt encouraged and inspired to pursue her love of fashion. Spending Saturdays shopping and being the friend that always lent out her clothes, it was clear the fashion industry would be her home.
Now, she’s a wardrobe stylist for everyone from busy moms to professionals, with her eye keenly focused on catering to their individual lifestyle and needs, whether a full-service closet purge or curating a style-box based on budget and preferences (and easily returnable, too!). Collaborating with other brands, hosting events and supporting local female brands all top her favorite activities.
In the midst of her professional blossoming, Binder faced a terrifying bout with cancer. Fortunately, this tenacious entrepreneur made it through, and now she’s pivoted not only her business (to curbside delivery, virtual styling and COVID-safe in-person styling), but she’s also refocused her efforts on self-care, being present and enjoying each moment. Read on for more.
SBS: What has your professional path been?
Gina Binder: I’ve been in the fashion business since I was 17, and I’ve worn many hats: I owned a jewelry store in NJ many years ago, I was a retail store manager, store buyer, visual merchandiser, fashion stylist and now entrepreneur.
I had the vision for my store in 2005. I recognized a void in the retail market: Women were seeking more one-on-one personalized attention, so my by-appointment-only concept was born. I utilized all of my contacts and resources, and I created a beautiful space for women and stylists alike.
SBS: What were happy surprises and challenges along your professional path?
GB: Happy surprises were that my clientele and resources followed me and wanted to support my idea. Finding good employees was challenging, but I have managed to have some incredible girls and work-wives throughout the years. Another big challenge was the juggle of being a mother and running a business. But having a good team has been monumental to my success.
SBS: What tips do you have for new fashion stylists or boutique owners, whether in COVID times or otherwise?
GB: Utilize your resources, seek mentors and don’t be shy to get on the Gram to send DMS and hellos to your favorite brands. Ask questions. When I have time, I am more than happy to take the time to chat with someone who reaches out to me. I get at least one DM a week from someone who wants to be a stylist or open a business.
Stay in touch with your clients and most definitely use Instagram: It has been a game-changer for me. I no longer update my e-commerce website because Instagram has created more revenue and connections.
SBS: When were you first diagnosed with breast cancer?
GB: I was diagnosed in 2017. Fortunately, it was a non-aggressive cancer and very small. I was able to skip chemo, radiation and hormone therapy.
Unfortunately though, my cancer was not picked up on my annual scans, and I had to fight for an MRI since I felt something was ‘off.’ Also, my first pathology was mis-diagnosed.
However, I am big believer in second opinions, so I had my pathology slides sent out to three of the best cancer hospitals for further study…which all came back with malignancy.
SBS: What has your journey been like fighting it?
GB: I’ve been very lucky to have caught it early and was able to avoid any treatment. However, I did endure five surgeries in 18 months of reconstruction.
Since my diagnosis, I have become more present with my family and have taken more time for myself. I am enjoying more down time to slow down. I also feel that my positive mindset on life and surrounding myself with my closest friends has helped me maintain my vibrancy.
SBS: How, if at all, has your health and wellness style shifted since?
GB: I have always been very active and have led a healthy lifestyle. My parents were always very health conscious growing up, so I learned healthy habits at a very young age. We were raised with no sugar, no white bread or junk food. Friends didn’t want to hang out at our house!
Before COVID, I worked out five days a week. I enjoy dance, boxing and Pilates. I also highly endorse infrared sweat saunas, which has been a game changer for my body and well-being.
I am very mindful of what I eat, so that hasn’t changed much. However, I do indulge in cakes and pies on occasion. Everything I eat is organic when possible, and I try to limit my meat intake.
I’ve also been extremely mindful of the products I use and apply to my body as well. When I use make-up or a product, I read labels to see the ingredients. Everything I use has zero chemicals and stored in glass (not plastic). I have two daughters, so I’m leading by example for them.
SBS: How has your approach to wellness shifted in COVID times?
GB: In all honesty, I have not worked out much the last eight months, and I have surrendered to a lot of junk food and alcohol. Like most, I am in survival mode. However, I do try and do distanced walks with friends, get outside daily, stay super hydrated and maintain my infrared sweats.
SBS: We've all become accustomed to sweats in COVID times...how can we make fashion special right now?
GB: I am telling all my clients to get dressed! Rock those cozy sweatpants and throw on your favorite tee and a blazer. Most of us are working from home and on Zoom meetings. Add a red lip and some great earrings. If you escape for an evening out, then absolutely throw on some sparkle and your favorite heels. I also recommend for women to just get dressed even if you aren’t leaving your house. It’s an instant mood booster.
Gina’s LA Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: The Butcher’s Daughter
Splurge Restaurant: Felix Trattoria on Abbot Kinney
Fitness Studio: BoxUnion and PlateFit
Athleticwear: Alo Yoga
Athletic Shoes: Nike
Fun Activity: Dancing
Calming Activity: Bubble baths
Books: Untamed by Glennon Doyle and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
Online Resources: I’m a news junkie, so NewYorkTimes.com, cnn.com, Ted Talk and whatever I find on the Gram
Two SBS-Complimentary Items: Any of my graphic tees and/or my favorite sweatpants, as well as a sweatshirt by ThisIsTheGreat.com
The best, zaniest part of being Gina: I am a one-woman dance party.
Gina’s SBS Mantra: Be fierce. I am living my best life, helping others along the way, going after what I want and doing what I love.