Rachael McCrary is an extraordinary woman and the founder and CEO of Gather Labs in Beverly Hills. She is not only vested in the medical tech space but is also a fashion mogul who created “Jewel Toned,” a lingerie fashion brand, as well as the RxBra. Through the development of the RxBra and her connections in Asia, Rachael started supplying PPE and COVID tests to local doctors and plastic surgeons in Los Angeles. This led to the first fully tested event in Malibu in April of 2020, COVID testing for local businesses, events, productions sets and eventually the creation of Gather Labs.
Gather Labs is the very first luxury high complexity CLIA laboratory in the LA area. Founded in 2020, Gather Labs provides concierge quality COVID-19 testing for all patients including those who are asymptomatic and want to prove their negative status for work or travel. However, Gather Labs just launched a full-service facility with diagnostic consultation and a private, comfortable environment with an educated staff where questions can be answered safely and privately. It is their belief that COVID testing should not have to be uncomfortable or time consuming and that any test results should be discovered quickly.
I was able to have a long and enlightening conversation with Rachael regarding the services and philosophy of Gather Labs…
I’m very impressed that you mingled medical tech with the fashion industry and made it work for you. Although COVID was probably your inspiration for creating the lab, what made you come up with the idea of an exclusive Beverly Hills boutique lab situation?
I’ve lived in the West Hollywood-Beverly Hills area for the past 10 years. Our team was acutely aware of what people were asking for and what they needed, and although we’re not a global business — yet — we wanted to service the people in the community where we live and work. Gather Labs is what’s called a high-complexity lab, which is a very high level of laboratory licensing. There wasn’t one in the area that could service the public and I didn’t realize that until COVID hit. COVID-19 was a good opportunity for the public to get used to testing frequently. Women know about rapid testing from pregnancy tests, but people don’t really seek or administer tests on their own or expect quick results.
They expect to go to the doctor, have a test done, and then wait days for the results. After doing COVID tests, I was curious if this would work for other diagnostics. That led me to visit five different locations to request various types of tests and the minimum turnaround time for results was 10 days. Could you imagine waiting 10 days for test results for something like a UTI or something more severe? We knew there had to be a better way and wanted to come up with something better and more modern. All we could think was, “How is it that we can get a cheeseburger in minutes, but can’t figure out what’s wrong with someone for 10 days?” We wanted to change that.
Here in New York, you could literally die while waiting for the results of a COVID test. So, your lab is considered a luxury lab, how is it different than most of the labs you walk into?
Gather Labs facilitates same day diagnostics. What’s different is that most labs are just the laboratory. Most labs don’t have a consumer facing operation. If you need bloodwork; you’d normally go to your physician, who would then send you to a separate off-site lab. We have a clinic and a doctor on staff here. You can go to the lobby and order any test we offer right at our front desk. If you’re having symptoms and you’re not sure what you need, you can be seen by a physician or nurse practitioner in a private room. We will then perform the test for you, process it and analyze it on site. When the results are ready, we can either email your results, have the physician call you directly, or call in prescriptions for you, based on your preference.
COVID testing isn’t the only thing that we do. We also test for strep throat, STDs, and other commonly spread illnesses, as we are a full-service lab. We can test for anything you think you might’ve been exposed to. When you come to the front counter, you’re greeted with music and offered refreshments. Each patient room is styled differently and completely private. We also believe in education; patients are encouraged to speak openly with the physician. We want to make it easy and fun, not fearful, so everyone can be informed and safe.
What is your professional background?
I’m a fashion designer and I lived in New York while I was developing and designing lingerie for some of the biggest brands in the country. That led me to inventing a medical bra called the RxBra, which is the first-ever prescription bra. It’s medically effective but also cute and comfortable. The fabric emits far-infrared rays. You can’t see it or feel it, but it is always there for the lifetime of the garment. It increases oxygenation which helps you heal faster, prevents problems, and improves health. It’s considered a medical device and it’s sold to plastic surgeons all over the country and to patients around the world.
That’s really cool and intriguing. How did that lead to what you’re doing now?
At the beginning of the pandemic two years ago, the plastic surgeons that I sold RxBra to couldn’t get PPE and they called me in to help. I lived and worked in Hong Kong for years, so I was able to help procure PPE for hospitals, police units, and fire departments all over the country. I thought I was just volunteering and doing a public service— thinking the pandemic would be temporary and we’d be over it quickly. I was working out of a one-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood and all these police officers, firefighters, doctors, dentists, and nurses were calling. It turned out I was the best option they had so I convinced my business partners that we had to do this full-time. Because of my position as a fashion designer, I already had all these connections and was able to move products for them. Then I was asked if we could get COVID tests. My friend had a biotech company in Hong Kong, he trained me on Zoom how to facilitate PCR tests and provided me with his product. I would take the tests to physicians and I thought it was crazy that I was teaching trained doctors how to use administer these tests. But it was understandable because COVID was so new to all of us.
After I would illustrate the collection tools to them, they would then ask where they could have the tests processed. I called all the labs in LA. I started by helping the doctors get the swabs to the labs and everyone started calling me the “Test Kit Girl.” Customers ended up calling me instead of the labs and I explained that I didn’t really work at these labs, I was just trying to help. They complained nobody answered the phone or knew what was going on. We started working with the labs and found out they were trying to cut corners and that quality control wasn’t necessarily where it needed to be. Everyone on my team has either a deep science or business background. We’re a family and we each know what the others bring to the table. We empower everyone to acquire the knowledge needed to make the company stronger.
We decided to build a lab and a company. We wanted everything under one roof instead of having two locations — clinic and lab. We made it as easy as possible by building everything like a tech company. We noticed many labs hired a lot of unlicensed people. Everyone here is fully licensed and is highly trained. We have procedures, policies and quality control and we train everyone individually, which includes HIPAA compliance. We only use the newest top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art equipment. Customers are made to feel comfortable and trust that everyone at Gather Labs knows what they’re doing and is putting the customer’s well-being first. Most test results are available within 30 minutes, and we’ve been told over and over that we have the best customer service. There’s never a wait— we have a real person at the front desk who answers the phone and everyone is booked in 15-minute increments.
We had a dream to make testing better and now that dream is a reality.
To book a test go to http://gatherlabs.com/