Shopkeeper and designer Andrea DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn — aka the mad dressmaker — is crazy for retro-inspired garments and accessories. Since 2018, she’s owned and operated the Mad Mod Shop in downtown Calistoga, offering locals and tourists an opportunity to access stylish, hand-made items not available in department stores or online retailers.
“We provide an alternative to what’s typically out there,” DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn said. “I’ve designed and hand-sewn many of these items myself or have searched to find unique designers, either locally or from around the world.”
Growing up, DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn lived with her mother, a ranger at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Sonoma County, and spent every other weekend with her father, a crane operator and volunteer firefighter in San Francisco.
“I spent a lot of time in the redwoods pretending to be a fairy,” she said, “but I also spent a lot of time in the city, which was an entirely different kind of world.”
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DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn’s designs couple the glitz of city life with an often-whimsical natural influence. Polka dots, stripes and geometrical shapes abound, but much of the apparel is inspired by nature: a lush, twisting strawberry garden, colorful flowers and even a mushroom or two.
She is particularly drawn to the shapes and styles of dresses popular in the 1960s and ’70s, so many of the items in her shop have a retro look and feel — from shapely swing dresses with deep pockets and stylish cardigan scoop-neck sweaters to beaded handbags and one-of-a-kind jewelry.
A long history of making garments
After working for 15 years at — and eventually becoming the general manager of — Calistoga’s Mount View Hotel, she finally realized her dream of opening her own dress shop.
“I thought that after I opened my first shop over in Sebastopol in 2015 that I could just go out and easily find the items that I imagined would fill the racks — but that’s not how it works,” she said. “So that encouraged me to start designing and sewing those things I dreamt up.”
DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn was no stranger to dreaming up her own apparel.
“After learning hand-stitching in Girl Scouts, I made my first dress,” she said. “It didn’t fit, exactly, because I’d sewn it without a pattern and it was too tight, but still, I was pretty proud of my handiwork.”
Since then, she’s had a fond fascination with fashion.
“My grandma had season tickets to the [San Francisco] ballet, so there were occasions when I was growing up to really get dressed up,” she said. “I have always loved the style and elegance of the city; plus, on my mom’s side everyone seemed to have green thumbs. Growing up in both the city and in a more rural setting gives me a wide perspective.”
Beyond gaining perspective, DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn is also from a long line of clothes-makers.
“The generations before me sewed a lot of their own garments, too,” she said.
In homage to that heritage, adorning the wall in her sewing room at home hang three pairs of passed-down pinking shears, — the serrated scissors used when cutting out a pattern.
“They left me their shears, and I’ve added mine to the set,” she said. “It’s a nice reminder.”
DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn describes her shop as having “a timeless collection of flattering mid-century silhouettes of dresses, skirts, tops, swimwear, accessories and lots of other pretty little things.”
However, during the pandemic, she said no one needed a party dress because everyone was staying home, so she spent much of her time designing and sewing creative face coverings for her clients, friends and family and dreaming up what was next. The result? She redoubled her efforts — designing a new line and taking classes to learn more about pattern-making and manufacturing. She even worked with a local father-and-son team to design locally-inspired holiday ornaments.
When we met, DeTrinidad-Hoogendoorn was getting ready to open her shop. It was a bright, cold winter morning and she was colorfully dressed and in a cheery mood, laughing often. She had designed and sewn the dress — a stylish “Mad Vix” dress made with garden-themed Strawberry Fields fabric from Rifle Paper ($239). She was also sporting a beaded strawberry wicker bag ($70) and matching strawberry earrings ($22).
“Calistoga is a perfect place for my shop,” she said. “There’s a retro vibe here, and as things open back up, there are plenty of reasons for locals to get dressed up and celebrate. Also, given that there are over 1,000 keys (a reference to the number of nearby hotel rooms) means that there are lots of visitors looking for something special to wear and take back home.”
And that’s exactly what the Mad Mod Shop provides — something special that makes people smile and is unavailable anywhere else.
“I am constantly on the lookout for playful, magical items,” she said. “Sharing the joy of everyday things just makes me smile.”