Initially, a lot of brands didn’t want to work with Karmaloop because the company was launched on the heels of the dotcom crash. “About 95 percent of them shut the door in my face,” says Greg.
Still, they pressed on, using his parents’ basement as a warehouse, turning everyone they knew into a potential mark, maxing out the credit cards, and cashing in retirement accounts. “The initial investment was $45,000. My entire net worth went into the business,” Greg says, recalling that things got pretty tense. “At one point, Dina and I together were $2 million in debt.” Not surprisingly, all of the above made their first years of marriage anything but easy. There was even talk of hocking Dina’s engagement ring.
But the sales started coming — by 2006, the Selkoes had broken even. And they kept coming: Unique monthly visits to Karmaloop’s website soared to 4 million, and KarmaloopTV became the 18th most popular channel on YouTube, with 270 million views to date. That success led to negotiations with a number of cable operators for a Karmaloop channel. The couple had arrived, no question. Now it was time to find the perfect place to come home to.
They decided to look for digs that would be ideal for raising kids. But instead of staying funky, they wanted to go traditional. After looking first at several townhouses on Beacon Hill, Greg was immediately sold when he laid eyes on the Clarendon building. “I know you want to be in Beacon Hill,” he told Dina by cell phone from the sales office of the high-rise, “but you gotta take a look at this building.” She reluctantly indulged him — then fell in love with the views and the incredible roof deck, which overlooks the Hancock, Trinity Church, and essentially all of Cambridge.
They bought two units before the building was finished, and Dina then set about designing the interior layout on her own. She created a huge open kitchen/living/dining area and detailed it with thick moldings and walnut and oak flooring.
The two rooms that have received the most attention so far are the nursery, complete with Beatrix Potter wallpaper, and the master closet — which started out as a hallway of doors that Dina reconfigured into a massive room with enough space for the hundreds of Karmaloop shoes, bags, and jackets the couple has collected over the years.
Dina’s design for the master bedroom seemed great in theory, but now she thinks it’s a bit overscaled. “It looks like you should be doing ballet in here,” she says. So to finish the job, she’s planning to bring in New York interior designer Alexa Hampton, the queen of traditional Manhattanite upscale living.
No matter how many twists and turns through the wilds of cosmopolitan coolness their lives have taken, however, one option they’ve never considered is moving elsewhere — even though Greg has found it hard to convince some of the employees he brings from L.A. and New York to stay in Boston. His answer to the problem is every bit as forward-thinking as you’d expect: He’s creating a nonprofit dedicated to keeping the city’s innovators right here.