For TSP's inaugurative cool person feature, it's Lisa Williams--founder of San Francisco-based online store Lisa Says Gah that aims to provide a destination for like-minded, high-quality and ethically-sourced pieces of clothing, in turn achieving simplicity over trendiness.

Read on to discover how she left a coveted position @ Nasty Gal to form her own online store--and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Q: Have you always aspired to work in fashion? What did you study in school?
A: I always had an interest in fashion but was unsure of how to make a career out of it. I went to a liberal arts college and studied Advertising and Italian. Advertising was as close to fashion as I could get in college. I enjoyed the creative challenge and the planning and teamwork involved from concept to delivery. At that point, I was still unsure how to "break in" so I decided to minor in Italian, and study abroad to get closer to the "fashion world." 

My first internship in fashion was in Italy. I interned for a PR firm that worked with fashion houses in Milan and Florence. I handled prepping and assisting during photo shoots and runway shows, along with email correspondence in English with American clients. While that was super fun and eye opening, I decided I wanted to be closer to the product. 

For free clothes during college I modeled for showrooms at their buying appointments. This unlikely gig was my introduction to an unknown side of fashion - the showroom.  Most people don't realize that a showroom manages the sales of a designer by working directly with buyers. While modeling, I was able to eavesdrop on conversations with big time buyers and their reps. They discussed their buying strategy. It was all shopping and all business at the same time. I was intrigued! 

After graduation, I got my first job as a showroom assistant in downtown LA. There I learned the process of production, marketing, and sales. But I quickly grew bored of the repetition in sales and found myself more interested in product development and merchandising. So on the side, I produced look books for brands that I represented to get my creative fix - the extra cash didn't hurt! 

By 2010, I was Nasty Gal's sales rep for One Teaspoon and worked closely with the owner Sophia Amoruso- Nasty Gal was still in San Francisco. When I found out they were moving the company to LA, I jumped at this opportunity to interview for a buying position. I remember how nervous I was throughout the interview process. After three rounds of interviews, I was hired as a Junior Buyer. That was my breakthrough moment. 

Q: What made you want to start an online store of your own after working at Nasty Gal? What were some of the greatest challenges that you faced in creating the store/site?
A: Ultimately my move from LA (or from Nasty Gal) to SF was personal. My boyfriend has a business in San Francisco, and we had done four years of long distance. I felt accomplished and ready to leave Nasty Gal. I had gained wonderful experiences and was ready to embark on a new venture. It wasn't until after the move and my unsuccessful search of an inspiring fashion job in SF that I decided to start my site. I started working on the site in October of last year and launched the end of January.  I started with a Journal "blog" and reached out to vendors. I got a lot of no's but the yes's came through and after that I got to work. 

The challenges have been, trying to do it all on my own (I now have a small, but amazing team!), finances, and getting the word out. I'm sure these are typical problems. I've found that the best way to move past them is by making do with what you have and getting creative. Always use the network you've already got!  

Q: How would you describe your creative process (in sourcing the brands, curating the site, etc.)?  
A: This process is hard to describe. I rely on the fact that I am naturally hyper aware of what's happening in fashion, and where the eyes are headed. I can comprehend and communicate well through visuals. I'm most curious about what's to come. I look for things that surprise me. 

QWhat is an average day for you?
A: Planning, emailing, looking at everything from social to journals, delegating, budgeting, updating the site, more planning and brainstorming and emailing. My mind is full of ideas, and I spend the day putting those ideas into plans and eventually actions. A lot happens in a day, in a week. I launched the shop six months ago, and we've already come so far, it's exciting!

Q: Where do you garner the most inspiration from? 
A: Beyond the usual online visual resources, I get the most inspiration from other people. At the moment, I'm inspired by the simple and elegant Parisian look of Jeanne Damas and the clean, modern power-woman look of Sophie Buhai. Plus all of the lovely ladies Lisa Says Gah gets to collaborate with (Sarah Simon, Sissy Saint Marie, Roxana Salehoun, to name a few).

Q: How did you come up with the name?  
A: Gah is an expression sparked by a feeling of unannounced joy/pleasure/excitement. Indeed, these pieces evoke that inner Gah! We hope our customers have a similar feeling as they engage with us via the shop, interview series, journal, social platforms, etc. 

As far as the history, it all started as a type of nickname. "Lisa Says Gah" references my flare for the dramatic in not so dramatic situations and the way I get it out via an audible "gah." Gah fits with the brand, and I love how interchangeable it is. We often use #gahgirls, #saygah and #SFsayGah, #LAsaysGah, etc. for pop-ups and traveling. It's fun and not so serious, which is what we are about. 


Finding high-quality, neutral undergarments can be more difficult than necessary.  Based in Spain, Nude Label is everything one would hope for and more: super cool pieces hand-crafted in Valencia, complete with cut-outs and retro silhouettes in neutral colors...because what you wear underneath is just as important as what you wear on top. 

Nassir Zadeh's line is one that I have been lusting after for a while, not only because I dislike wearing high heels but also for the shoes' undeniably minimal 70s look, shown perfectly in these burnt coral suede mule slides. Though they are unfortunately sold out, you can find similar, equally fabulous shoes here or on the designer's website (I'm partial to these glossy caramel versions).

Though known largely for their backpacks, this pale pink carryall proves that there is much, much more to the brand.  Bonus: take an extra 15% off of sale items like this with code '15OFFSALE.' You're welcome!

NU Swim is a San Francisco-based swimwear line full of "innovatively simple" pieces in cool retro colors, like the lilac piece pictured above.  Be sure to check out their Instagram for some super cool inspiration.

Good, right?? For an extra dose of GAH be sure to check out their website (featuring not only more pieces like these but also interviews with the designers, lookbooks and a blog).  
* Note that this article was not sponsored in any way