We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriella Santaniello and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gabriella, how do you think about risk?
I think of risk as a necessary part of doing business. I have a higher risk tolerance than the average person but this has come with time and experience. I like to take calculated risks which to me means being ok with the fact that I might not feel fully comfortable with the risk I’m taking but the pros outweigh the cons. In my opinion, staying idle is worse than taking a risk, even if it doesn’t work out because it might set you on a course you’d never otherwise be on and force you to think in a different way. All of that said, taking risks is a learning process. You learn from each risk and become more confident every time. Part of it is trusting your intuition. Intuition backed with experience has been key in developing my career. Specifically, my experience in the fashion industry has helped me feel confident in my current career where I make calls on companies’ earnings. Sometimes I’ll be in a store and observe something or I’ll be poring through data and something will stick out to me, and my gut will tell me to move in a certain direction. I realize that telling someone you use your intuition to make a call, can sound a little ridiculous, but there are years of experience behind that decision. When I look at my career as a whole, I’ve taken many risks from moving across the country in hopes of working in the fashion industry to transitioning to finance where I carved out a niche for myself and many in between. Risk invigorates me.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I own a retail research firm and our clients are institutional investors who use the service as part of the investment process. My research is focused on what’s going on in the stores and market, so my clients look to me to tell them if a retailer has the right product and fit, if their messaging resonates with the consumer, or if they’re executing according to plan. What sets me apart from others is that on every day of the week, my team and I are in the stores observing and gathering data. We are in markets that Wall Streeters don’t typically visit like remote Alabama so we visit stores that are in their real state, not merchandised to perfection because they know an investor might show up. We also meet customers and sales associates who are not in major metropolitan areas and are more representative of the average consumer. This type of research has proved to be incredibly valuable, and we are able to pick up inflection points in the business that some of the big data services do not.
Where I am today is a culmination of my career in the fashion industry and my career in finance. Wedbush Securities gave me the chance to be the architect of the retail research program which, when you really look at it, was an entrepreneurial venture but within the constructs of a brokerage firm. After years of waking up at 3:30 in the morning to make it into the office by 4:30 for our morning call before the markets opened, I realized that for my health and personal life, I needed to figure something out. I was at a trade show with a client said, “If you want to go out on your own, I’ll support you.” And that was all it took for me to start planning. I trusted a close group of clients who were helpful in answering questions and put me in touch with some key individuals regarding compliance oversight. I gave myself a year to go out on my own and it took me 13 months. It was scary but I also saw it as necessary for my well-being and felt like I had no choice. I used to say that I’d either be a great success or a great failure but at least I tried. And if I was a great failure, I was confident in my abilities to find a job better suited to my needs.
I do take pride in the fact that I have strong relationships with my clients.
Once I launched my business, I still did not have compliance oversight which is critical to doing business on Wall Street. For example, they need to know that any information I pass along to them is not non-material public information which is illegal and would compromise both of us. After months of asking everyone if they knew of a firm where I could keep my licenses active and have compliance oversight, I finally found someone who did. The moral to the story is if you’re stuck, keep asking questions. Ask anyone and everyone you speak to. Do not give up. The answer is out there.
I’d like the world to know that the path to success is circuitous. There is a lot of trial and error. Going back to the theme of risk taking…it’s important to realize when something is not right for you and move on. Even if you make the wrong decision, it could set you off on a path you’d never otherwise be on if you hadn’t tried.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m in Hermosa Beach so for a light breakfast we’d probably go down to Pier Avenue to have some coffee and an insane blueberry muffin at Café Bonaparte. Then we’d get on our beach cruisers and bike up to the Marina del Rey bridge and back. We’d end up at La Playita in Hermosa for too many chips with salsa, share a quesadilla, eat some freshly poached fish tacos, and wash them down with a skinny margarita. Then we’d walk to the end of the pier and watch the sunset, hopefully catching the green flash and then head home. The next day, we’d drive downtown and go to Clark Street bread for the most amazing Swedish cinnamon and vanilla pastries. Then we’d check into the Hotel Figueroa for a night where we’d lay out and have lunch by the coffin shaped pool. Late afternoon we’d go to the arts district and walk around the Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery. Dinner would be across the street at LA Cha Cha Cha for amazing carnitas and chorizo tacos, and my favorite drink, the Sana Sana Pain Killer.
On day three, we’d have breakfast at the Hotel Figueroa, something light, and venture to the Grove and Third Street where we’d walk around, shop and I could do some store research. We’d stop at Nonna’s Empanadas for a quick bite and then Sockerbit on Third where we put together a bag of Swedish pick and mix licorice and candy. Of course, we wouldn’t leave West LA without a quick stop at Compartes Chocolates where we’d watch them make their amazing chocolates and pick up a few bars to take home (my best friend knows I love sweets!)
On day four, we’d get up early for a hike along the Backbone Trail, probably my favorite hike which is Corral Canyon. At the top of the hill there is a circular rock formation where we’d stop and have a lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some snacks. After the hike we’d be tired and sore so we’d go home and Postmates some Sugarfish from the Manhattan Beach location. Their sushi is fresh and uncomplicated, it’s the best in LA.
On day five, we’d still be sore, so we’d just hang out locally, maybe take a walk on the Strand and have a late breakfast at Martha’s. I’d bring you along to the newly renovated Manhattan Village Mall to check out the new stores and restaurants, and the Del Amo Mall for some research. For dinner, we’d go to Shin Sen Gumi in Gardena for ramen. I get the vegetarian ramen and my husband loves the Spicy Dan Dan Men.
On day six, we’d eat breakfast at home and go to the Century City Mall to check out the stores. This Westfield mall is a concept mall, so the mix of stores is interesting – a balance between your typical mall stores and those from other countries that are testing the US retail waters. After walking around for a while, we’d end up at Sweetgreen for a quick lunch and swing by Eataly to peruse the grocery section where I always find something to buy.
On day seven, we’d take it easy and chill out in Hermosa before you leave. We’d take a walk to the Strand, north to Manhattan Beach and have a late lunch at Petro’s Greek Restaurant.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to thank my clients who supported me when I decided to go out on my own. They did everything possible to help me prepare for launching a business with a lot of compliance and regulatory hurdles.

Website: alinepartners.com

Instagram: alinepartners

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabriellasantaniello/

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