SF Bay Area

New Fashion Boutique and Queer Arts Hub in The East Bay!

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Co-Written by Max Silver and KC Van Der Zee

It is a fortunate thing that Queer industries are able to exist in the East Bay. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it is safe to say that Oakland harbors a fair number of LGBTQIA+ owned businesses compared to other cities in the country, and that when times are good many of these businesses are able to thrive. Not only is this good because business generates profit, but it also helps keep the historic Queer culture of the Bay Area alive…which is why the authors of this article would like to draw attention to a Queer-Femme owned art and fashion boutique that has recently opened up on University Avenue called Hot Stuff Studios.

Via youarehotstuff.com

HSS is an authentic community space for Queer artists to showcase their work, as well as for shoppers and visitors to get an inside look at the art culture of Queer DIY creatives living in the East Bay. It is run by Trin Alexander (she/her) and Dru Cowan (they/them.) Trin Alexander was born and raised in the Bay Area, between Oakland and San Leandro for the most part. She is a customer service professional with 8 years of experience in tech support and retail management. She recently left her full-time job at SF State University to redirect her passion and skills towards building Hot Stuff Studios.

Dru Cowan (they/them) is originally from the South (Louisiana and Kentucky.) They moved out here 8 years ago after college and went on to become an accomplished community organizer and jewelry designer, with pieces such as clay cacti and adorable avocado earrings available in shops throughout the East Bay.

Trin Alexander (left) and Dru Cowan (right) via youarehotstuff.com

Together, these two are doing the art world a service by opening their studio space for Queer artists to access exposure to the public. Local creatives are constantly at odds with the Bay’s demanding expenses for basic living essentials. Hot Stuff is able to provide a much-needed space for artists to exhibit their work at street-level, rather than face the daunting difficulties of getting accepted into museum galleries and other traditional fine art institutions.

According to Hot Stuff, “HSS celebrates the importance of Queer creativity, its boundless applications, and the value of sharing our collective resources and talents in order to strengthen the connection, visibility and the overall well-being of the East Bay’s Queer communities.” This is a valuable resource for Bay Area artists who are looking for ways to spread awareness of their existence and hawk their wares at a location that is available both physically as well as online.

Via youarehotstuff.com

Hot Stuff Studios is relatively new, having saved enough to open up their flagship store last December. For a small business, Hot Stuff has awesome potential, though there are obstacles to overcome. According to the owners, “we would love to grow into a little hub for Queer art and community. In some ways, our ideal is to provide space for the Queer community in whatever capacity is needed. It takes time for a foundation to solidify, we’re working toward a rotation of recurring, new, collaborative and engaging events/ workshops.

Right now, our biggest challenge is securing adequate funding and getting strong event attendance. We’re operating on a shoestring budget consisting of donations, part time jobs, and retail sales. There are hella permits, licensing, and overhead costs associated with pulling this off. Lately we’ve noticed a trending increase in word-of-mouth referrals and that’s awesome!”

Already they have showcased a number of local artists such as: Akaelah Rain, Cherry Lopez, Dadadoodles, Gemini Moon Botanicals, Gently Knotted, Grocery Collective, Ivy Rose Zines, and Pervy Pins, all while selling their own customized merch crafted at their location. From hosting music events with local bands like That Band Frank and Mount Saint Elias, to spoken word poetry slams, figure drawing classes, Puff and Paint, and other recurring weekly social events, Hot Stuff demonstrates how it can provide an exquisite center for the Queer arts community to flourish.

Art by Akaelah Rain, one of the 40+ artists in their store. Via youarehotstuff.com/pages/artists

Book your appointment to shop via their website, or visit during their regular hours Thursday-Monday from 3-8 pm! sign up for classes, join the HSS Patreon, contact them if you are an artist looking to display your work, and spread news of this unique boutique as a creative space where you can experience the joy and vibrancy of Bay Area Queer culture’s artistry firsthand!

Shot of Dru Cowan and Trin Alexander from FLORA tea party hosted by Grocery Collective. Via Instagram

Upcoming Events:

Puff + Paint – May 12th and 26th

Queer Open Mic Night – Every Friday night

As of June 4th, Hot Stuff will be launching a concert series! Stay up to date via their Instagram or Events page!

Via Eventbrite

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Max Silver

Max Silver

Max Silver (he/they) is a writer, artist, and sci-fi podcast creator. Visit www.adventuresincalthumbria.com to see what his original series is all about!