Meet Alicia Estrada, founder and head designer for Stop Staring!
For those of you who don’t know, I used to run The Vintage Shopping Guide, an online vintage resource company. I first interviewed Alicia Estrada back in 2009 for the VSG e-zine. Not everyone likes to hunt through bargain bends and scope out flea markets to find their perfect vintage garb. Many people just want to look like they bought a priceless vintage piece. So, I was ecstatic to talk to Alicia Estrada again, the designer behind the very retro-inspired line, Stop Staring! Her delicious collection gives you the best of both worlds; the ladylike silhouettes of the past with the great fit and new fabrics of today with a bit of a twist.
Breaking in by dropping out…
I started sewing at age 17. My mother taught me basic sewing techniques like hemming and patching up jeans. I have 6 sisters and 3 brothers, so sewing was more a necessity at the time. I fell in love with the creative process, and I immersed myself in sewing and just kept on learning more and more.
By the time I was attending fashion classes at Long Beach City College, I had a boutique on Melrose requesting to buy my designs. I was at a club wearing my clothes and so we’re all my sisters and friends. The owner [of a boutique] came up to us and asked where we got our clothes from? Shortly thereafter I began selling my dresses to Booth 7.
I was designing 1960s inspired rave/ club wear. The dresses were very mod, very vintage, yet totally futuristic. It was all the rage back then, and I remember my dresses displayed in the front window for weeks at a time. That was awesome exposure on Melrose. The dresses were hot sellers, and this opened the door for more boutiques to buy my designs. One thing led to another, and soon I had to drop out of college to keep up with the growth of Stop Staring!
Pitching my line to boutiques came easy. I would always pitch stores that were into the vintage look. Though I was rejected many times, 18 years ago, when I started, most vintage stores thought it was a joke that I was creating 50s inspired dresses. Many of those stores now buy from me! Humility before honor.
It’s all about the music…
In my college days, I was totally into the 1960s mod look, I was listening to bands like The Specials, and Madness. I would mix the sexy mod dresses with punk and rave accents. As this 60s look caught on and became popular, it was time for me to change. I always wanted to be 10 steps ahead of the crowd. At this point, the rockabilly scene was taking off in Los Angeles. I listened to bands like The Cramps, and X, thus changing my looks to be very 1950s inspired Rockabilly Dresses! Music has always played a huge role in inspiring my new collections!
As a designer, I was easily bored, so a change was always welcome. Now, of course, I’m designing everything, from the 1960s, 1950s, 1940s, and 1930s! My dresses will always be vintage inspired. However, I do not reproduce vintage dresses or vintage patterns! Vintage clothing does not fit the curvy shapes of modern girls today. Besides, designing and creating my own dresses and patterns is way too much fun!
Made in the USA…
I hope to continue to support the US economy by having my dresses made here in the USA. I have no future plans to go overseas. Besides, I love the control of making sure we get top quality production. The excellent fit of our dresses and the great quality is what we are known for! I want to continue to keep quality at the top of our list! Ultimately, I think it is a matter of responsibility. We all should do what we can to support jobs here in America. We are proud to support America, it is written on our website on the front page!
My team is mostly my family, whom I completely trust. I currently have around 30 plus employees, and our team grows every year. My top employees are my 3 youngest sisters, Eva, Mona, and Sarah, they are awesome to work with, and highly creative individuals. They are whip-smart and could start there own empires. My husband James is my right hand, But Jesus Christ calls all the shots!
I would love to see Stop Staring! become a global brand. Stop Staring! is currently sold in over 1500 boutiques in well over 50 countries, that’s awesome! We have 100s of boutiques all over the world carrying our dresses! It’s amazing how huge it all has grown! Girls in Europe love our dresses, especially the UK, and Italy! It really is quite amazing how fast word of mouth can spread!
I travel a lot because of my business. So being in new cities and seeing the street style is awesome. I love to people watch! Anything vintage and antique I love to collect, especially jewelry, purses, and shoes. I think I have the dresses covered! It’s amazing how a piece of jewelry could influence a new design; the color, the shape, the era.
For this latest collection, spring summer 2016, I was inspired by Americana Pinups and the innocence of the 1950s. I’m trying to keep the lines classic, and classy.
Vintage Stores are an awesome place for inspiration. Some of my favorites are: Wasteland in Los Angeles, and Wear it again Sam in San Diego. I was recently in NYC and Trash and Vaudeville is such a cool punk store, they also carry Stop Staring! They have the coolest selection of shoes!
My fabulous find…
I was in Canada about 2 years ago, I came across an Adrian Design, it was so immaculate, and perfect! The dress had all the vintage details of what Adrian was all about! Adrian was by far one of the greatest designers for the black and white movies. He designed most of the gowns worn by Joan Crawford! He was amazing! Maybe I paid around $70 bucks for it, what a steal! I still have the dress and have no plans to sell it!
I would like to thank…
There is a long list of individuals who have influenced me throughout my life, here are a few:
God is at the top of the list! He is the ultimate Creator who pushes us to create and add our own beauty to this world! He has made us in His own image, and He has given us all the gift of individuality, and creativity. It’s up to us to put it to great use! God has great business advice in the Bible, the Proverbs and Psalms especially! His wisdom is beyond comprehension. Whenever I have a tough business decision, I ask the Lord, and His answers are beyond measure and always perfection.
My mother and father. They taught me to survive, to overcome, to have balance and good moral values, but most of all to have faith in God.
Coco Chanel was a timeless designer. She survived and overcame the worst of situations as a young girl. She proved that anything could be done, as long as you set your mind to it.
To follow Alicia Estrada and Stop Staring! or find out more please check out www.StopStaring.com