Cathy Jones of GSTQ Fashions sits down with Living Editor Bianca Johnson in her shop. Judith Y. Kim | Avant-Youth
In a business plaza in Doraville, Georgia, sits a costuming shop: GSTQ Fashions. Specializing in leather, Cathy Jones, the owner, sews and creates costumes for cosplayers and filmmakers alike.
She started attending MomoCon during its early days at Georgia Tech–when admission was still free–and has been going ever since. In fact, she got the idea to create costumes for people while attending her first convention.
Like a natural leader, Jones jumped into things headfirst. She learned to sew as a child by watching her mom, who forbade Jones from using her expensive sewing machine. As children often do, Jones used her mom’s sewing machine anyway.
She sewed off and on, but it wasn’t until Jones turned 20 years old when she started sewing for money. She took on a job hemming a pair of pants for a client. At the time, she had no idea how to hem a pair of pants. She simply knew she possessed the skill and intelligence to figure it out.
Jones’ tenacity is what makes her successful: She lacks fear.
“I know I’m stubborn and I know that I’m smart, and I knew that I could figure it out,” she said, explaining why she took on jobs she didn’t immediately know how to do. Rather than shying away from challenges, she took them on and figured out how to complete them along the way.
Having that characteristic prepared her for what she does now, since she often receives requests to make things she’s never made before.
As her career progressed, she took on more high-profile projects, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s leather jacket for the film, Rampage.
“We’ve made leather jackets before, but we’ve never made them for someone as big as ‘The Rock,’ and so that was a challenge,” Jones said. “But we know how to pattern, we know how to do mock-ups, we know how to pick out the right leather, we know how to sew leather. So if we know how to do those four things, what’s the problem with making it bigger? And so we took that job.”
Jones describes herself as a “copier.” She replicates costumes, rather than design new ones, although she does do some designing now that she has caught the attention of film-makers.
“People give me something and then we make it for them,” she said. “We do some design work, and we’ve been doing more of that now because productions will come to us and say, ‘okay well, we have this character and we have some general idea […] Can you design it?’” She further explained that she “isn’t a very good artist,” but despite that, she works in a tight-knit community of creators, and she doesn’t mind sharing her projects with friends who work in the area.
“We have a collective group of people. We all know each other through cosplay and we started going to conventions together and making costumes together,” Jones said. After a while, her friends began doing things within the industry.
“All of us have been able to grow together, which is really, really cool,” Jones said, smiling fondly.
Before Jones got into creating costumes, she worked at two different law firms as a receptionist. After she was fired from both places, she worked at a bridal shop, from which she was also fired because she was too slow at completing alterations.
“It was the first time I had used an industrial sewing machine,” she said. Jones worked on a machine with a clutch motor, which she said has two speeds, “zero and 1,000. There’s no in between. There are some techniques you can use to slow things down, but I didn’t know any of them, so I would only hand-crank the machine. [That] means I would take my hand and [turn it] 5,000 times to try and alter something. So of course I was slow.”
By making her own moves, Jones was able to create opportunities for herself.
Not many people get to do what she does: Create a life where she and her friends can work, grow together and be happy with what they do.