By Brittany Hutson
Ella Gorgla lives and breathes fashion. But like so many who bypass their true interests and opt for a career that is considered to be ‘safe,’ ‘secure’ and ‘lucrative,’ Gorgla chose to pursue a degree in engineering and spent over a decade working with global institutions such as Ernest & Young, Arthur Anderson and IBM. Gorgla’s choice to study engineering wasn’t far-fetched. A native of Monrovia, Liberia, it was expected that as a child of African descent, she would become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Though becoming a fashion designer wasn’t in the cards for her, Gorgla never lost her interest.
She ultimately combined her interest, along with her background in engineering and technology, and created I-ELLA.com, an online fashion marketplace were fashionistas can buy, sell, borrow and swap for the latest in fashion apparel, accessories, shoes, handbags and more. Since the site’s public launch in April 2011, (the site was first launched in a private beta format during fashion week of September 2010), I-ELLA.com has been featured in InStyle, Lucky, Glamour and Essence magazines. The site was named by Time Inc. as a “Top 10 NYC Startup to Watch” and Gorgla was selected as one of Inc. Magazine’s “11 Leaders to Watch in 2011.”
“I knew I was going to launch this company no matter what,” said Gorgla. “I knew my goal wasn’t to become a partner at these firms that I worked for. My goal was to create something and this was the perfect opportunity.”
I-ELLA is typically compared to E-Bay, Rent the Runway and Gilt Groupe, but Gorgla, who is a graduate of Columbia and London Business Schools, incorporated some distinct elements to ensure that I-ELLA would be a fun and engaging online shopping community. I-ELLA, which is named after Gorgla’s grandmother, brings the ancient pastime of raiding your mother’s closet for 70s and 80s vintage pieces, or your girlfriend’s closet for her hottest pair of jeans, to the web. A fashion lover’s heaven, the site carries pre-owned luxury brands including Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Valentino, as well as contemporary brands, homemade and vintage pieces. Items can be borrowed at a weekly or monthly rate, or purchased at discounted price, plus shipping and a small I-ELLA user fee. The average price point is $100 to $120 and pieces can be priced as low as $20 to upwards of $10,000.