Maybe it’s nostalgia, playfulness, or simply the chance to dress up and feel like you belong to a different era. For whatever reason, many geeks gravitate toward vintage fashion.
Artist and aspiring fashion designer Samantha Salazar has hit upon the perfect blend of the two with Bettie Geek, her Etsy shop and future clothing line, which offers “vintage flair with a geeky twist.”
Samantha recently debuted her first couple of products, including fun and vibrant Spider-Man stickers and a sleek Black Widow Stealth Vest. She has big plans for Bettie Geek, including launching products related to Avengers: Endgame before ramping up the business this summer.
Inspired by such geek brands as Her Universe and Hero Within — she modeled the fashion company’s popular Captain Marvel Jacket earlier this year in an aviation-themed photo shoot — Samantha aims to cater to a “semi-niche market” of people like her who enjoy wearing their fandoms on their sleeve and love a classic look too.
Samantha attributes her passion for art and design to a childhood infused with Disney influences and her fashion sense to her grandmother, a seamstress who let her tag along when picking out patterns and fabrics.
A big fan of the MCU — it’s no surprise she’s partial to Cap and Agent Carter — Samantha is a proud Gryffindor who likes to hang out at the Wizarding World. She also has a creepy side and is into Laika, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the horror genre.
With her distinctive and memorable personal style, creativity, and enthusiasm for all things geeky, it won’t be long before you see fans rocking Bettie Geek on a daily basis. You’ll want to keep track of future developments by following Samantha now on Instagram.
You’re an aspiring fashion designer with a striking personal style who combines “vintage flair with a geeky twist” under the name Bettie Geek. What first sparked your interest in fashion and, specifically, vintage?
Fashion has always been prevalent in my life. My grandmother is a seamstress, so she would make outfits for me. I would go with her to pick out patterns and material. She is excellent at her craft. She has and continues to teach me a lot.
I love your distinctive fashion style. How would you describe it?
That means a lot to me! Thank you! I grew up going to classic car shows and watching a lot of classic movies. I think that is where I picked up my love of vintage fashion. Combine that with my love of geek culture and boom. You have Bettie Geek. (Bettie as in Bettie Page).
When and how did you become interested in art and design? Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
Disney was always very prominent in our household — even before I was born. I think my love of art and design started when I attempted to draw various Disney characters.
What’s your geek origin story? How did you first discover this part of your identity?
I grew up with two older cousins that are pretty much my brothers. I always wanted to be involved with what they were doing — playing Sega Genesis, watching Power Rangers or the animated X-Men series from the ‘90s. I was always in love with Gambit.
Why do you think geek and vintage go together so well?
Personally, I think it is kind of a juxtaposition of classic and modern. It is reflective of who I am.
You’ve said you “believe in celebrating things you are passionately geeky about every day.” What does this look like in your life?
It is certainly fun to be a geek. It keeps you young. Everywhere I go, I always have some sort of geek gear on. I think I only own one purse that isn’t Marvel or Star Wars. Wearing your geek on your sleeve is fun because it starts conversations with people and sometimes brings some joy to their day.
You have plans for your own clothing line with a couple items already in development. Can you reveal what stage of development you’re at?
Starting a business can be very overwhelming. I didn’t quite know where to start at first, but lucky for me I have very helpful and supportive friends. I have started my Etsy shop and have a couple products ready to go.
Tell me more about the products you’ve just launched.
I just opened up my Etsy shop! I’m very excited! I have a couple listings up now, and plan to list more items before Avengers: Endgame premieres. Then really hit the ground running starting in Summer 2019.
You’ve said the line will be dedicated to a “semi-niche market.” Could you elaborate on what that means?
There are many people that love vintage fashion and many people that are involved in fandoms. Then, in the middle of the Venn diagram, are folks like me that like to have the best of both worlds.
Who are some of your fashion design heroes or inspirations?
Tony B. Kim of Hero Within and Ashley Eckstein from Her Universe. First of all, they are both such kind human beings. They love what they do and they get to live their dreams every day. I feel fortunate to live in a time where we have a spectrum of geek fashion — from subtle to “I love Star Wars.” It’s great that I have a lot to shop from and can take inspiration from their work ethics.
You recently did a beautiful photo shoot, modeling a Captain Marvel bomber jacket for Hero Within. How did you become involved with that and what was that experience like?
Thank you very much! I met Tony of Hero Within at a convention last year. Being interested in geek fashion, I turned to him for advice and guidance about owning his own business. He knows I am a Marvel fanatic, so he asked me to model the Captain Marvel Jacket. I am still so honored—and I wear it all the time.
Have you done any other modeling? Is that something you’d like to do more of?
I have done a bit of modeling prior to the Hero Within shoot. I would absolutely love to do more modeling! I love that the “model image” is shifting. It is becoming more diverse.
What did you think of the Captain Marvel movie?
I enjoyed that it changed up the typical origin story formula. It felt more like you, as the audience member, were along for an adventure of self-discovery with Carol. Seeing young Nick Fury and Carol on screen together was a lot of fun! Captain Marvel is a great role model for all fans because she teaches us that others do not set our own limitations. We can do whatever we set our photon blasters to!
You’re a big Marvel fan in general. What are some of your favorite characters, movies, comic books, etc.?
The Marvel universe is so vast, but my favorite pair has to be Agent Carter and Captain America. I love many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. My absolute favorites are Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers and the Agent Carter series. I’ve really enjoyed reading Guardians of the Galaxy and Scarlet Witch comics.
Have you emotionally prepared yourself for Avengers: Endgame?
Actually, I’m not sure that I have. I will never forget how emotionally drained I felt the entire day after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. No movie has affected me that much before. I know Kevin Feige and gang are going to step it up even more for the grand finale of the “Infinity Saga.” It is comforting to know that after the biggest movie in cinematic history we can look forward to another fantastic Spider-Man film. I think that will help me get through it.
You’re also into Harry Potter. What’s your Hogwarts house?
I am a very proud Gryffindor. I value the brave, bold, and strong at heart and that is reflected in my love of superheroes. My hybrid house is Gryffinclaw.
How did you first discover J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World?
My mom introduced me to the Wizarding World when I was very young. We have bonded over it ever since! It has shaped my life.
You’re a fan of animation studio Laika. You recently entered Hot Topic’s Coraline Design Challenge. Tell me about the design you created for that and what it was like to participate in the challenge.
Coraline was Laika’s first and probably most recognized movie. I wanted to boil the design down to key elements of the movie that evoke adventure, magic, and wonder. Those are the things I first think of when someone mentions Coraline.
What are some of your other fandoms?
We’ve covered comics, Harry Potter, and Laika. Two other fandoms I hold close to my heart could not be more opposite from each other —Disney and horror. Disney has always been present in my life. I was fortunate enough to pretty much grow up at Disneyland. The last couple years, I have been getting into the art of horror and thrillers via movies, books, and experiences. Last Halloween, we went to Warner Bros.’ Horror Made Here event. Hands down my favorite experience!
I wanted to ask you about your love of the TV series Community because that’s not a fandom I hear a lot about lately. What do you love about that show?
The show is about a diverse group that is in the same study group at a community college. Community doesn’t limit itself when it comes to humor and creativity. Dan Harmon and the Russo Brothers are some of the geniuses behind this hidden gem of a show. Joel McHale, Jim Rash, Donald Glover, and Danny Pudi … what more could you ask for?
What are some of your favorite horror and classic horror movies?
My favorite classic horror film is the original Psycho. It has a great twist! (I won’t spoil it!)
It (2017) is my favorite modern-day horror film. Underneath the scary facade there is a great message.
You seem like you have a little bit of a goth/creepy side. Where does that come from?
Probably because I’m weird … My cousins and I used to watch Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas all the time. It used to scare me, but helped me overcome my fear of spooky things.
What are some of your favorite vintage fashion items in your closet?
Most of my clothes are simply vintage styled from Unique Vintage and Pinup Girl Clothing. I have many vintage accessories given to me by my grandmother. My recent favorite is a firetruck-red whicker purse from the 1950s.
What are some of your favorite geek fashion items in your closet?
I doctored up a denim jacket by sewing a Spider-Man patch on the back and adding some paint to it. From Hero Within: Captain Marvel Flight Jacket, it has many pockets and makes me feel empowered. From Her Universe: Darth Vader sweater jacket, with that I feel like I can rule any galaxy … I also have asthma.
The geek fashion industry is slowly becoming more inclusive and accessible to a wider variety of fans. Are there ways you’d still like to see the industry change?
The way the geek community in general is growing makes me so happy. Nowadays there seems to be a convention for everything, which I see as a positive thing. In the future I would like to see a website like Etsy but for geek culture.
What are your ultimate plans, hopes, and dreams for Bettie Geek?
My ultimate goal for Bettie Geek is to be a well-known brand. I love designing clothes and accessories, so to be able to do that with fandoms that I’m already dedicated to would be a dream come true!