ELECTRIC LOVE COMPANY
On one of the first sunny days of the season we hopped in our car and traversed several miles of dirt road to a beloved residential cabin perched on the banks of the river to do a long awaited collaboration with Cassandra Crow. She's the creator of the Vintage clothing company with a heavy period evoking aesthetic known as Electric Love Company . I don't remember exactly when we met, but I do remember that moment when the myth of Sister Scorpio (her handle on her second, equally captivating IG account), as I'd observed her online and from the periphery of our overlapping social circles, collided with the person. It was one of the more gentle collisions, she is who she appears to be. And I loved her immediately. She lives and breathes her passion for Vintage and the era from which her clothing hails, and has crafted a life that reflects that passion. We had a hunch this cabin on the Yuba River with it's classic 70's features and lifetime of soulful inhabitation paired with her iconic sense of style would be the perfect amalgamation. Here's what she had to say.
What was your original inspiration for starting Electric Love Company? Have you always loved vintage? How did you come up with that fabulous name?
Let’s start here. Yes, I have always loved vintage. It all started at my first birthday party. Really! There’s this video of me opening presents and every time I unwrap a toy, I’ll throw it to the side, but when I open an outfit my little eyes light up and I give it a big hug. I think my spirit has been set in stone from the start to be a shopaholic. Once I became infatuated with classic rock & roll and environmentalism around 13, I started to lean towards vintage shops more and more. After that, there wasn’t really any way to go back to non-vintage. It spoke to me, I felt it’s history and I craved that so deeply. It really made me feel like an individual. Additionally, I loved the idea of recycling and resurrecting these forgotten beauties.
Let’s get to the name... Well, I pretty much wrote down every word that ever inspired me. I think I filled up about 7 pages front and back and would endlessly combine these words until I landed on “Electric Love Company.” It resonated with the origins of my 60’s and 70’s obsession. It reminded me of the love I felt when my dad put on Jefferson Airplane for the first time. Who knows if people resonate with that, but I did and I do so I guess I picked the right thing. Trust your gut!
When did you decide to move forward with that vision?
It all started with my thrifting addiction while attending UC Santa Cruz. I’d dig through these huge bins, often nasty but fun, and uncover treasures that would have otherwise been sent to the dump. It truly felt like I was unearthing this magical secret, and before I knew it I had accumulated more than a normal person should. I started selling my finds at flea markets and antique fairs for practically nothing, but it paid for a meal here and a show there so I kept rolling with it. On a whim I walked into a vintage shop in Santa Cruz called Tomboy and mustered up the courage to introduce myself and see if they wanted to buy some vintage. Suddenly, I had my own spot in there and some really inspiring women cheering me on (shout-out to Summer Duppen)! Anywho, being in that space really gave me the confidence to pursue it creatively and that's when I decided to start a curated collection online. I started shopping for those real special items that you find once in a lifetime, those pieces that they just don’t make anymore and if they do, damn sure not like they used to. I started on etsy and then built my own website. I didn’t wait around for people to do it for me, I just went for it!
What is your deepest passion and how is that related to your business, if it is...
I don’t think I can land on one deep passion but I can tell you a few. There are few things that feed my soul more than smoking a joint and playing guitar. Really, I don’t even care if that sounds cliche. I don’t share my music often because ultimately, it's for me, my soul, my well-being. It’s such a beautiful meditation for me. I’ve also been studying herbalism for some time now and can’t begin to express the love I have for it. Similar to thrifting, I feel like it's this magical hidden world with so much to offer. I believe passionately in the power of plants, indigenous wisdom and ways of old. Alongside that, I’m a big nature lover! You may know that if you follow my personal Instagram, @sisterscorpio . Any weekend I get, I’ll take my van somewhere beautiful and treasure-hunt along the way, camp somewhere, go hike or swim and then photograph what I’ve found. It's a beautiful life but also full of endless work.
You have a very specific aesthetic vision. Can you say a little about where that comes from and what inspires it? How do you achieve that look (without revealing your trade secrets)? Are you a trained photographer and do you use a camera?
My specific aesthetic vision comes from my strong belief that clothing is self expression and style is art. I think the late 60’s and early 70’s really showcased that. People were just letting their freak-flag fly. Things were well-made, functional, funky, beautiful, eye-catching. Colors were vibrant and encouraged. People seemed hopeful, unafraid and ready to throw down. I like that. I feel that. I think we all could use a dose of that right now. The music of that era was revolutionary and you can see the intersection between culture and style in that generation. The 60’s blow-back full of kids against war, intolerance, inequality. I just love everything about it and draw so much inspiration from it. I can’t recreate the 60’s or 70’s and I don’t want to - what I attempt to achieve is that essence. People are living that life right now, I damn try to, and I can share that to inspire people to live free and shamelessly. I recently sold off a big chunk of my personal vintage collection to invest in a nice camera. It was a great decision and I’m really falling in love with photography. There’s so much to learn but I learn by doing so that’s where I’m at. Creative inspiration is always processed with my dear friend and makeup artist, Jillian Wilkey. We go together like PB & J. I think its really important to find those people who make you feel confident and build on your vision - I’m lucky to have found that in a friend. We get so excited together!
You do a lot of your own modeling, which is something that I admired as a viewer before I knew you. Can you describe what that’s like for you and why you choose to do that instead of having other women model your clothing. Has it had an effect on your confidence or your power as a woman? On your own self image and body image?
Well, owning your own business is always a struggle. I think a lot of people can agree with me on that. I model often because I can. I’m investing in my business. If I had it my way, I would rarely model! I just have to make things work and I don’t give up. If I can’t find a model, I’ll be that model. If I can’t find a good
backdrop, I’ll make one. You really have to be creative to keep people interested. Initially, I was really insecure about posting images of myself and to be real, I still am. I don’t exactly have the slender physique of your average model-type and I struggled a lot with that, especially when vintage can be so tiny. As I said “F*@$ it” and kept at it, I realized I didn’t want my business to represent what I wasn’t because my business is this strange projection of myself. I wanted ELC to represent every woman, every body-type, every color, every smile. I don’t want to be another clothing company perpetuating negative body-image to women, so, if that's what I stand for I need to be happy with my own face, my own smile, my own body and go with it. The more I embrace that the more people seem to support it.
What’s it like running your own business and do you feel successful and/or satisfied?
Running my own business is constant fun and stress. I can’t say I do it alone because I receive so much support from my friends, whether it be modeling, inspiring ideas, makeup, hair, or whatever else the awesome people in my life contribute. But at the end of the day, I run it alone. That can be really challenging when I have to package 30 orders in a day and haul them off to USPS before I get emails asking where that order is. I rarely feel successful and/or satisfied. Just being real. I’m that kind of person though, I keep pushing and I won’t stop. I think that really works as an advantage for my business, but it can take a toll on my personal well-being. I’m pouring myself into ELC so when it doesn’t feel successful, I can’t help but feel like I’m the problem. I’ve learned to push past that but its not always easy.
How did you arrive in Nevada City?
I arrived in Nevada City on a total whim. My previous lease ended in January and I couldn’t seem to find a place. Santa Cruz is notorious for the competitive rental market so trying to re-home, let alone in January, was impossible. I gave up and had this cute idea to live in my car in the redwoods with my cats but that didn’t seem to jive with my vintage business and everyone thought I was insane. Looking back, they probably were right. I decided to head up here until I could decide on my next nest location - little did I know, it was right under my nose. I fell in love with this place and I’ll most likely never leave.
How has being here affected you creatively, personally, or professionally?
Living in Nevada City has completely transformed me. I love it here and living in a small tight-knit community has really made me feel empowered. I’m more comfortable with who I am than ever before. For those of you who don’t already know, Nevada City has a bizarrely high amount of strong, fierce, creative women who just live their lives how they want to, for no one else but themselves. It’s inspiring and I draw a lot of power from it, even when its from afar.
What’s your favorite aspect to living in this community and bioregion?
I love that everything is old. I love that everyone I have found, or has found me, is old in spirit. I love that I have friends of all ages. I love the Yuba, the backroads, the trees and all the amazing projects people have going on up here. This community invests in culture and you can feel it once you dive in.
What challenges have you had to face being part of a small tight-knit community?
I’m only coming up on my third year here in Nevada City so I’m not sure I’m feeling any big challenges quite yet. Sometimes I do feel limited creatively by the lack of people interested in collaborating with me. I think that I’m still finding those people though. That's the thing about this community, there are so many amazing artists just hiding out. I think I’ll find the right people in good time, things just move a bit slower here and I’m 100% okay with that.
What is your imagining for your future life if you were to set it loose without restraint?
I’d definitely start making clothing and shoes with vintage fabrics and recycled materials. I have a sketch book of designs sitting next to me right now actually. They always come to me when I’m laying in bed trying to fall asleep. I’d love to see them come to life. I’d also convert my van into a shop on wheels and caravan across the country treasure-hunting and selling my finds while learning from herbalists along the road. Big dreams.
What moves you the most, gives you head to toe goosebumps, makes you feel most alive....
Music moves me. Traveling makes me feel alive. Real raw authenticity gives me goosebumps.
All photos by Kat Alves Photography