We had the good fortune of connecting with Catherine Elhoffer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Catherine, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I was looking for clothes for my body I was frustrated by what was available. I was too big for straight sizes in most stores but too small for most plus size stores (plus the clothes in plus stores were always hideous). I’ve sewn for years and decided to start making my own clothes to stop being so upset at stores. I also am a huge geek and wanted fashion that was booth geeky and flattering for me, and my friends wanted stuff too. I started making clothes and documenting it on my Instagram and found that a lot of other people liked what I was doing, too. So I started offering commissions of pieces or of brand new designs.
That grew into getting pieces made in small production runs in some local factories, which really started my business. I just want clothes for my squishy body and am thrilled others also want the same thing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I like to think that my designs and fashion are unique to me, as my own style and aesthetic is just different from other geek fashion designers I’ve found. I like to use colors, silhouettes, and lines in different ways to shape around curves and really enhance our gorgeous bodies. It’s been a hard growth, though, because my sales are almost all online and shopping online is terrifying for many women for apparel. And my stuff isn’t cheap, we produce in small runs in Los Angeles so the cost of just labor on a garment is what a full retail price is in a big box store. I’ve just worked really hard in live streams and social posts to help educate my customer base and help them see that well made fashion isn’t cheap and the investment in such apparel means you’ll have a dress that can last you a decade or more if taken care of properly. Fashion shouldn’t be fast and cheap, and geek fashion in particular should be versatile and multi-use to allow it to serve more than a single purpose. Oh and also I put pockets in like every free-flow dress and skirt cause pockets are life. Those tend to be a selling point all on their own sometimes.
I’ve branched out and now make a whole line of essential fashion staples as well from crop tops to capes that are more based around solid colors but can easily incorporate into someone’s wardrobe but keep the brand fit and style as well. My team was finding customers loved certain pieces so much that they just wanted simple color blocked versions in their closet, too. We listen to what our customers and fans want as we wouldn’t be anywhere without them!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love taking my friends out to Korean BBQ either in Alhambra or Koreatown. I think Korean BBQ is one of the best social dinners you can have. Everyone gets have fun and you don’t feel rushed to eat and leave like at most any other restaurant! I also love Griffith Park and my toddlers is obsessed with the pony rides at Griffith so I drag every friend that visits over to the ponies and petting zoo to enjoy her excitement. Most of my activities revolve around kid stuff since I’ve got a little one, so it’s the Zoo or the Aquarium or a train ride that tend to entertain me now, but I used to love to bike up and down the beach between Santa Monica and Venice and on down. I used to love Enterprise Fish Co in Santa Monica but they closed during the pandemic which is heartbreaking. And I love hiking as LA has some amazing outdoor hike areas. I go now to Ascot Hills Park which has lots of zig-zag trails and you get beautiful views of downtown and SGV on several of the hills.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh I wouldn’t be where I am without my amazing husband. He has listened to every frustration and helped load up trucks for cons. He drives across the city to get my a pallet for a drop ship. He helps me with building our shipping tables and desks as we’ve expanded. And he helps fix all our computers and printers. He’s always trying to find the best tech to help me and my employees and is just the best partner anyone could ask for. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
Lauren Elisabeth Photography, Gil Riego Photography, John York,