Interview: Lori Kirk, Founder of CAVATA ClothingJune 28, 2012
It’s not every day that you find an ultra-hip designer clothing company that supports the scene as much as the scene supports it. Let’s call it artistic symbiosis, shall we? One local company has truly perfected this model. Diffuse 5′s Bren caught up with Lori Kirk, founder of CAVATA clothing, to learn more about the company, artists to watch, and that special place where fashion, music, and community all comes together.
Bren (Diffuse 5): So tell us a little about CAVATA. How did you get started? I love origin stories.
Lori: CAVATA is a music and art-inspired apparel line and entertainment blog from Boston. CAVATA stands for “Creating A Voice About The Arts” and is a culmination of all my passions: music, art, fashion and marketing. As a musician and a member of a touring band for years, I saw how tee shirt brands and clothing lines “sponsored” artists, but I wanted to do more than have artists wear my products. I wanted to create a line of tees and accessories that not only promoted their projects, but supported programs that inspire young people to create. We use the CAVATA blog to feature local artist projects, community events, interesting Kickstarter campaigns, movie and music reviews and are always adding new features. Most importantly, we donate 10% of every purchase to support arts-education programs.
I founded the company in 2008 and a year later my cousin and co-owner, Peter, came on board. We work great as a team and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, building this unique brand from the ground up with my family.
Bren: Where does CAVATA fit into the LGBT community? Do you have any queer outreach plans, goals, rainbow-colored gear, etc. in the works?
Lori: For Pride 2012, we were a vendor at the JP Block Party and created a special edition CAVATA X PRIDE tee, limited to only 35 pieces. I have to say that it was one of our most successful live events and the support from my fellow LGBTQ-ers was phenomenal. When people ask who our typical customer is, I try to explain that it’s a brand for artists, by artists, so we have people from all walks of life representing our brand. It doesn’t matter what letter you identify with in the LGBTQ community because EVERYONE likes music, watches movies, reads books, sees plays, etc. I have featured LGBTQ artists and some of our sponsored artists definitely play for “our team,” but the only thing “gay” about CAVATA is me. I absolutely appreciate brands that cater to the gay and lesbian communities – I know I get annoyed when I can’t find XS in the men’s department! – but what I like about CAVATA is that it is a brand for everyone and has a brand message that everyone, regardless of age, orientation, religion, whatever, can support.
Bren: Who are some local DJs/artists that you’ve worked with? Any fun stories about them? Artists are always doing fun stuff, so I hear.
Lori: We work with a variety of different artists, but our sponsored artists are very special to us. We don’t just throw some tee shirts in the mail and call it a day; we go to shows, we promote their projects, we produce videos and graphics for our team, etc. The people who we support reciprocate 100% and we’ve had some amazing live events and promotions because of this.
One artist, Natural, has been with us from the beginning. He started his music career about the same time that Peter joined the company and has been getting bigger and bigger every year. Peter is an extremely talented music producer and graphic designer, so Peter’s production company, Stay Puft Productions, joined forces with Natural and we’ve had huge release parties, contests and exclusive videos for fans. We also sponsor DJ Leah V, winner of the 2012 Best DJ – Boston Music Award. I love this girl’s enthusiastic drive and sense of style, so I always look forward to her posting photos of her crew rocking CAVATA at events. Other artists include J The S, Dutch ReBelle, DJ Carmin Wong, Mighty Mystic, Danny Picard’s sports talk show “I’m Just Sayin,” Quiet Storm and Lisa Bello.
Bren: What do you and CAVATA hope to accomplish in the next year?
Lori: We are primarily an e-commerce site, mixing in live events every so often. Even though we have a strong base of repeat customers and online presence, a big goal is to land boutique accounts. I would love to see CAVATA in small boutique shops like Laced, Bodega, Concepts, or Karmaloop. Right now I think people enjoy that you can only get CAVATA products from our website or at a live show, because it adds to the exclusivity – don’t confuse that with elitism – of our brand. If we were to expand to retail stores, I would still have certain items remain available only through our site and maybe have a few collaboration or in-store exclusives with some retailers.
Bren: What’s your personal favorite item in the CAVATA shop? I mean, hypothetically, if one were a fashion-obsessed butch dyke blogger and wanted to look really cool rolling up at Machine, what should one wear?
Lori: How can I pick just one item? That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! Because CAVATA is a small, independent brand, wearing our tees can often be a great conversation starter. “What’s on your shirt?” “What is that logo?” “Where did you get that?” I’m very proud of our headwear line, too. We’ve released a variety of CAVATA beanies and most recently released CAVATA fitted caps. The lesbos LOVED the fitted caps at the JP Block Party! I also love our recycled guitar strong bracelets that benefit the Music Drives Us Foundation, because they go with every outfit (available in silver and black).
Bren: What’s your favorite thing about Boston (besides Diffuse 5, I mean)?
Lori: Boston is the perfect size; not too big, not too small, pretty much Goldilocks status. I live in Savin Hill, about 10 minutes outside of Boston, and I love how accessible everything is. I also love the sense of community and pride people feel when they talk about our city. I feel like Boston is the forgotten city when it comes to music and fashion, so when we all band together for an event, we make it a big deal. The city is so multicultural and every neighborhood is different, so there’s always something new to discover. Oh, I also love every second Saturday at Machine!
CAVATA on Twitter: @CavataClothing
CAVATA on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cavataclothing
Diffuse 5 is a website providing events, news, articles and interviews for the lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community in Boston and beyond.
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