We’ve got some huge news: we are moving! After 15 years at our spot in Sunset Junction, we’re heading to a pop-up space in Echo Park. But don’t worry – when we open on June 15 at 2209 West Sunset, we’ll find a socially distant way for you to celebrate with us.
Why a pop-up spot? Well, I’ve realized during the past couple months that Matrushka isn’t just confined to one space. We’ve traveled all over the world virtually thanks to our customers and to international media coverage. It has been a strange, scary, and beautiful time all at once. Maybe we’ll settle into a “permanent” brick and mortar location, or maybe we’ll take this show on the road once we’re allowed. You’ll always be able to find us at Matrushka.com.
As I look at this big transition, I have to laugh when I recognize that this is our third location on Sunset Boulevard! But if you know Los Angeles, you know that Sunset is a long street with a lot of history. So while the Echo Park spot is technically just up the road from our current space, this feels like a big moment. And it’s a great time to look back at the history of this small company.
I came on board with Matrushka in 2001. A few friends of mine had already started this cool store with local, handmade everything. Back then, the Shop Local movement wasn’t the major force it is today. The Internet was a big force, but online shopping was certainly not what it is today.
At that time, I had worked in sculpture, drawing, performance art, music, and installation art. But I felt my art career wasn’t going in the direction I’d imagined. I’d grown up sewing clothes, and my English grandmother was a professional seamstress. I got involved with Matrushka as a way to get my art out there.
I started selling my own designs at Matrushka. One thing led to another and Beth Ann Williams and I decided to revamp and make it only our designs. The new Matrushka officially “reopened” in February 2002.
That was our first shop on Sunset – these days, it’s occupied by the awesome Millie’s Café. We first got local media attention for holding T-Shirt Nights. We would get helpers and sewers and sew about 100 shirts that night with patches based on a theme. Our parties were wild and so much fun. We would have a DJ, like Brian from Silver Sun Pickups. They were great events, and a chance to spotlight our own work as well as other up-and-coming designers.
One of our mottos has always been “Fashion for the people.” We create handmade clothing at an affordable price point.
Another motto has always been “Size is relative.” Humans don’t come into this world in a set or determined size! We can stock sizes XS-4X but our strength is in tailoring to individual figures. Everyone’s body is different, and we love that. In so many ways, diversity is strength.
Beth Ann and I briefly moved Matrushka to a shop on Fountain, and then she retired from the business. I settled into our present location in Sunset Junction. It’s not just a place to sell clothes and jewelry and art – it’s also a community gathering spot.
Our annual holiday party has also been a tradition for years and we always have a live bluegrass band. Protests against anti-same sex marriage bill Proposition 8 started right in front of our shop. When the orange menace was elected, we got involved with community fundraisers and putting our intersectional feminist principles into our clothing and messaging even more clearly.
We have made over 300 bridesmaid dresses and dozens of wedding dresses. I can sometimes trace a customer’s life through the clothes I’ve made for her: her first date dress with somebody, her wedding dress when they got married, the dress for her baby shower, dresses for her daughter’s school dances and prom one day…it’s really amazing.
We’ve had celebrities visit from all over the world, and it’s cool to see our things on red carpets and at premieres. That’s always fun for us. But we treat everybody with respect, dignity, and care.
The building where we are located and all the other store fronts have been sold to a developer who is “gentrifying” the building and seek higher end clients. We were not given the option to renew our lease. This is happening to many buildings in Silverlake. And we were prepping for a move when COVID-19 hit this country.
In the past three months, we have never worked harder in all the years of having Matrushka. We began sewing masks for donation in March. But since we began selling masks in early April, we have been working 12 hour days, often seven days a week. At first it felt strange not letting anyone into the shop. Now it feels eerie when we have new visitors! But we will get used to it again – with social distancing in place.
We are going to have a GIANT clearance sale! It starts now and our last day in the current store will be Wednesday, June 10.
I hope that some of our longtime friends will be able to make it. But the great thing is that we know we’ve got friends all over the world now thanks to Matrushka.com and our Twitter and Instagram accounts. So if they can’t make it to the shop, maybe they can nab some special deals through our social media.
Most of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made our store in Sunset Junction such an incredible place to be for a decade and a half. We love you and we appreciate you. And we will see you in Echo Park, the home neighborhood of Dodger Stadium, very soon!