For One Local Boutique, Fashion is an Equation Combining Curated Design with Community Spirit

When they moved here in 1997, the Heinz-Garcia’s had a young family and their dreams. Brian Garcia, with a creative and entrepreneurial streak opened Marz A Planetary Bistro, an early forerunner of the downtown Bend food scene. He followed his dream then asked his wife Kirsten Heinz, “What’s yours?” Fortunately for Bend, her eye was on fashion. While foregoing fashion school for a degree at University of New Hampshire, that true nature was expressed by opening her store Hot Box Betty on Sept. 12, 2001. In that moment, she saw how the power of fashion was expressed.  Opening their doors just one day after 9/11, “Wasn’t very auspicious,” says Kirsten. But an interesting phenomenon occurred: people came in for the camaraderie, the uplifting colors in the original location and for more. “People are in need of ‘armor,’” she says. Even if they aren’t feeling strong on the inside, she says she is keenly aware how clothes can help a stance and provide strength. “I love it when people go into a fitting room and come out standing a little taller,” she observes.


Hot Box Betty is an expression of a unique blend of Kirsten’s original East Coast classicism melding into a Pacific Northwest expression. And fortunately for current fashion trends, the PNW look is trending from New York fashion showrooms to runways. The country has had a love affair with Bend for the last four years, according to Kirsten. Making frequent trips to New York and Europe, along with having bi-coastal daughters (Raven, 22, is a data strategist in Brooklyn and Sage, 20, lives in Los Angeles and works in entertainment influence marketing), Kirsten is constantly curating and adapting trends for the store and herself. With the help of manager Molly Smith, and a team of stylists called The Bettys (Natalie Allard, Kristen Cochran, Tricia Huggin, Meredith Leyerzaph, Liz Rushton Mueller, Caroline Stuermer and Marley Weedman) locals and visitors alike are guided to adapt fashion to their own unique expression of themselves.


“People are beautiful every day, but fashion is like an equation,” says Kirsten. The key is how to take pieces and make them yours. This is true for daily style as well as seasonal trends. According to trend forecasters watching the runways at fashion weeks from New York to Paris, for Fall 2019 we may see capes, long coats, feathers, satin, more purple, and some prep school tailoring.  In what is referred to as “The Patagonia Effect” by Elle Magazine, fleece, a long-time staple in the Bend wardrobe, is trending in 2019 after the puffer jacket emerged in 2018 for wear as easily on a mountain as on an urban street. But as locals know, we’re not outside all the time. The Bend look is more about an earthbound elegance. Boots, denim, cashmere and jackets are more authentic staples in our wardrobe, says Kirsten. “I can’t get behind it, if it’s not authentic,” she says.


When selecting lines for her store, Kirsten gravitates toward some of her favorite designers, including Nili Lotan, Rag & Bone, Feathered Soul, Freda Salvador and Raquel Allegra. Clothing by featured designer Raquel Allegra is inspired by “Strong women of all ages and walks of life,” according to the company philosophy. With the exception of some knitwear, the line is manufactured in Los Angeles and they support a campaign to protect ancient and endangered forests with their fabric choices. Each of their tie dye pieces is individually hand tied and dyed. Their tradition of artistry and craftsmanship in the fashion industry combines beauty with the authenticity important to Kirsten and her buyers.  Of her store and journey, she says, “This is my exchange of life energy. My customers are my friends.” The equation of fashion is a constant adaptation of trends to a joyful expression of who we are. And of the shopping experience this fall, may we all walk a bit taller wearing clothes that prepare us to lead our best lives in the community we love.