I was lucky enough to meet Monica as a customer at Cats Like Us. Then I found out she has a business making gorgeous hair accessories reminiscent of vintage Hollywood Glamour under the name Across Lots.
How did Across Lots start?
I started Across Lots in 2013, during my last semester in college. I always wanted start an accessories business, and our senior project of showing our work in a gallery space was the perfect kick in the butt to get everything rolling. I studied Communication Design, so I showed not only the visual identity of the shop, but also some actual product.
How long have you been creating hair accessories?
I’ve been creating my own since about 2007, 2008. I started off making skeleton hand hair clips, bows, and mini top hats from store-bought doll hats which I then adorned. Then I opened an Etsy shop in 2013. Over the years, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on millinery techniques and honing my craft.
Where did the name Across Lots come from?
It’s a Victorian slang word for ‘getting over obstacles’. Since my pieces are geared towards goths, retro/vintage enthusiasts, Lolitas, etc, the name gives a nod to the adversity faced by people who look, dress, and think differently. We’ve come a long way, but it may still be a while before we’re not stereotyped or treated negatively anymore. It was probably a weird idea to name the shop with that negative mindset, but I look at it as meaning that A. we’re a resilient and rebellious community who aren’t afraid to be ourselves, and B. we’ll continue to shatter whatever stereotypes are cast upon us.
Do you have a sewing background? A hat making background?
No, not formally. I have a graphic design and print background, but as far as sewing and hat making I’m mostly self-taught. My dad taught me how to do basic stuff on a sewing machine about 8 years ago, and I taught myself everything since then via experimenting, books, and online tutorials.
I’m still learning about the art of millinery and honing my craft. Each material is different, each style calls for a different technique, etc. I will admit that I do like dissecting old (but beyond repair!) hats and seeing how they were constructed. Sometimes that tells you more than a vintage hat-making book can! In the books, they tell you to stitch everything and use glue sparingly, but looking at actual old hats tells a different story! Same thing with the wire gauges, and types of fabric. The books and tutorials tell you to use 19 gauge millinery wire, but after deconstructing old hats, I found everything had 21 gauge!
Something I keep in the back of my mind when creating a piece is an idea I read in an old millinery book: that a hat should look like everything just gracefully fell into place. There should be no glue blobs, no too-tight stitching, no puckering of the fabric. That simple idea implements itself from the beginning to the end of executing a piece. Other things I keep in mind are the principles and elements of design: scale, proportion, color, texture, form, balance, harmony, hierarchy, etc. Thinking about all of that, and how the piece may ultimately look on a person’s head while designing is important so you don't end up with a boring, uninteresting piece, or gilding the lily.
Where do you find your supplies? Would you say they are all one of a kind?
I find my frame-making supplies via online shops, but sometimes friends (thanks Meagan!) and old beyond-repair hats. I’ll carefully take off salvageable trims or dissect it and grab the wire. As far as trims/veiling/fun stuff, I find those on either Etsy or estate sales and antique shops. I’ve nabbed some pretty awesome stuff at estate sales! Given that most things I find are in small quantities, yes, most pieces are one of a kind.
Do you take custom orders?
I do! As long as I can find the required materials, of course!
What are you inspired by? Vintage actresses/ movies?
I’m more inspired by fashion and art/design movements than people, although I am most definitely inspired by specific peoples’ style, like Marylin Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. Vintage fashion is a definite. My absolute favorite fashion era ever is the 18th century, from about 1760-1789ish. If I could wear those styles every day, I probably would! I also love the Victorian bustle era, when everything was just dripping in different trims. I’m also inspired by goth and punk styles, and that goes for most styles under that umbrella: deathrock, Lolita, etc. As far as design styles, I love the graphic styles of the1920s-1960s as those can easily translate into hair pieces. I have an art deco collection and mid-century/atomic style collection that I’m working on.
How would you describe your style?
I think the majority of the pieces right now have a vintage or historical vibe, but I am trying to expand into other styles and ideas.
Will you be vending any other places? Where can we get more information and follow Across Lots?
Cats Like Us is the only place I’m vending for the time being. Please stop by Cats Like Us Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 11am-5pm to shop her accessories. We'll also be happy to coordinate an outfit around her hair decor!
You can find Across Lots on Instagram and Facebook (@acrosslots).
But I’m also starting a blog! The content will be mostly about millinery through the ages, fashion and design history, and probably some tutorials and tidbits. The first few posts will be about Buffalo’s old millineries.
Here’s the link to their homepage, so stay tuned!
How did you find out about Cats Like Us? What makes you shop with us?
I honestly can’t remember how I found out about Cats Like Us but I think it was through Meagan!
I love shopping there because Julie Ann, Andrew, and Meagan are wonderful and so knowledgable-especially about sizing! I love the variety the store has and that they stock items from local artists. Another great thing they do is help the community with their Cats Like Treats events, and doing the vendor showcases which allows local artists to get their names out there. Thank you! :)
A big THANK YOU to Monica for answering our questions and sharing a little about herself and her company.