Since 2012, Geraldine Chung has been introducing shoppers to emerging designers worth knowing — Rachel Comey, Sandy Liang, and Collina Strada, to name a few — and their clothes to lust over, covet, and desire. Hence the name of her (very cool) store: LCD. While originally online only, she opened a flagship in Venice Beach, California, in 2016, and another in downtown L.A. a year later. But the pandemic hasn’t been kind to small businesses, and Chung broke lots of hearts earlier this month when she announced that LCD would close at the end of the year. On this episode of the In Her Shoes podcast, Chung spoke with Cut editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples about the past decade in retail and the decision to say good-bye.
Read highlights from their conversation below, and listen and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
On changing not just jobs but industries:
I was working at Atlantic Records. I’d always loved music and been really into it my whole life, but I was kind of, well, I was very burned out. And I was looking for the next thing to do. And so I was like, Well, why don’t I take my tech savvy and my love of fashion and marry the two together and start an online store? At that point, I had launched over 200 websites. I was running e-commerce for a lot of musical artists. So I understood that side of the equation. But the fashion side of the equation, retail and buying and wholesale and margins and net terms — all those things were a complete mystery to me. It was kind of a rude awakening, just having to learn a whole new industry and learning all the ways that you have to manage people and personalities.
On building a business:
One of the more fun things about starting your own business is to be able to establish, what are your set of values? What is your culture? How do you treat people when they walk in the door?
I encouraged sales staff to be really warm to people when they come in. We’re not the kind of store where we put up our nose at people because they don’t know who Martine Rose is.
On deciding to close:
It’s really not easy as someone who’s accustomed to success, who’s always been able to work hard and figure it out and do well. I have a good friend who taught me this term: sunk-cost fallacy. It’s like, for example, when you’re waiting for a table at a hot restaurant. “It’s been 15 minutes. Let’s wait another 15 minutes.” And then at a certain point, you’ve sunk so much time into it that you just can’t leave. “I’ve waited an hour now; I’m too far gone. I have to eat here now.” So it’s kind of that — I’ve worked at this business so much, I put so much of my money into it, it’s got to work. There’s gotta be a way for me to make it work. And so it was really, really hard to wrap my head around that. Just like, Dude, it’s not gonna work. That process was a long time coming.