Q+A: Lindsay Stuart, Glam Expressway
Canadian-Jamaican-Dumbonian Lindsay Stuart is the founder and CEO of Glam Expressway, a contemporary and designer boutique on Front Street stocked with all kinds of great items, from dresses and coats, to jewelry and other accessories, from all over the world. After years of online-only retail, she decided to open a brick and mortar here in Dumbo, where she also lives with her husband and two daughters.
This year, we are honoring Lindsay's contribution to DUMBO with a DUMBO Dozen Award at our Annual meeting on February 11. We sat down with Lindsay to learn more about her and what is happening in Glam Expressway.
What's the Lindsay story? How did you end up in New York?
I am a Jamaican-Canadian entrepreneur. I was born in Canada, grew up in Jamaica, and ended up going back to Canada for university. I moved to New York around twelve years ago, met my now-husband, and I’ve been living in Brooklyn ever since.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? How did you start Glam Expressway?
I worked in banking for years, and I didn't want to go back to that work, I wanted to spend time with my kids. So, when I was pregnant with my second daughter, I launched Shopglamexpressway.com, a platform where I sold jewelry and accessories, basically small things that were easy to ship. I started with online-only because it was something that I could well from home, with my kids. That’s how the company started.
Being a business owner means so much to me because it really gives me a lot of freedom. I live in this neighborhood, I have kids here, I can see them walking from school every day. There is nothing better than building your own dream instead of helping someone else to build theirs.
How did you make the leap from the banking industry to the fashion industry?
It was easy for me to leave the banking and mortgage industry because it was around the time when the economy crashed. I began working as a makeup artist and worked at quite a few fashion shows during fashion week. I always wanted to own a boutique but what really prompted me was the fact that there weren't many shopping options in DUMBO. With such a great, artistic and funky neighborhood with over 30k female residents, I thought it was crazy that we didn't have many women's clothing stores for the tourists, residents and people working in the neighborhood.
Moving from online to brick-and-mortar is interesting. Usually it's the other way around. What inspired the change?
Around a year and a half ago, I felt like I was stuck. It's hard to go up against big websites that are powered by a lot of money and big corporations and PR. I realized that despite the difficulties of a physical location, having one give validation to your brand. So I opened Glam Expressway on Front Street here in DUMBO. I have daughters, and I wanted to show them that, as a women and a minority, we can do anything that we dream of – we have work hard overcoming obstacles.
I have daughters, and I want to show them that, as a women and a minority, we can do anything that we dream of.
Tell me about your collection.
I have designers from all over the world, from Australia and Turkey to Africa and Puerto Rico, and I have some American designers too. I also work with up-and-coming designers that haven't had much exposure yet; there are some of these from Dumbo!
How do you find designers? How do you choose what to sell?
I find up and coming designers by attending industry trade shows and I research designers organically. If I see something I like somewhere, I photograph the tag and contact the designer! But mostly, I go off of a gut feeling. If I love something and I would wear it, often times, other people love it too. So I do a lot of my buying based on my gut feeling more than following trends.
What has it been like having a brick-and-mortar in Dumbo? What has it been like to become a part of the immediate community?
I am so happy when customers visit the store and leave a very good review, or they say “ I didn’t know you where here, this is such a cute shop.” That gets me excited, it validates my vision and my dream and what I am trying to do.
I would like to think I have a positive impact on the community. I am involved in a bunch of different community groups and charities. I always speak at career day at our public school. My interns are from HMI, which is a group that helps young people who are struggling, and gives them opportunities. I always have an intern helping me from there, giving them job experience.
“This is such a cool, artistic, funky neighborhood that brings in so many cool people. I wanted to open a store with a vibe that matched.”
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that want to start their own company?
I think that if you have an idea and you feel it in your heart, do it. Don’t ask too many people for their opinions, because that can deter you. Go to your business association or the Chamber of Commerce wherever you live, because there are so many free tools that people don’t know about: resources for putting together a business plan, getting your financials in order, etc. Use these resources to figure what you need to do and how you achieve your goals. And other thing that I would say, for women and especially minority women entrepreneurs: take care of your credit.
“I love Dumbo because is an artistic community, a lot of people do things, jewelry and art… handmade things”
What’s you favorite spot in DUMBO?
Oh! Wow! I have different spots for different things but I can tell you my three top spots. To take my kids for dinner, I love Seamore’s because we like seafood and I feel like the staff is so friendly, so even when my kids are running around like crazy, I don’t feel uncomfortable, I feel like it's ok there. For going out for drinks with friends, I love Gran Electrica – love the margaritas and the guacamole – and Sugarcane. Sugarcane has the best mixed drinks!