Haleigh Hoff Wants To Dress The Gays Of The Globe In Her Gear
Haleigh Hoff approaches her creative life with the same fervent energy she does the people she loves, ecstatically. Her work as a graphic designer expanded into her namesake line Hoff Goods a few years back, but she does not want to be confined to the creative boxes of a digital designer. She grew up an avid dancer in her mother's dance studio where she worked as a teacher and choreographer in her formative years. From there her experience as a dancer led to a love for music which evolved into work as a DJ, her sets are particularly known for their pop-forward-get-your-booty-to-the-dancefloor kinetic vibes. Haleigh isn't interested in the binary world of this or that, and her work as a multidisciplinary artist blurs the lines of what is possible creatively.
She's built a career rooted in equal parts humor, self-expression, and activism — all of which are articulated poignantly in her most recent "Big Gay Drop" in honor of Pride month. Throughout her creative endeavors, Haleigh has been honest about her struggles with anxiety and imposter syndrome but brings a refreshing levity to those feelings which can otherwise border on self-deprecating doom-dom on the world wide web (speaking from firsthand experience here, y'all). In honor of Pride month and redefining beauty beyond its historical context within the world of feminity, I chatted with Haleigh about her creative process, dream collabs, beauty, Pride, and more. You can follow Haleigh at @hoffgoods and @hayreehoff on the gram. You can shop the full "Big Gay Drop" collection and more at www.hoffgoods.co. — Chelsie Rose Kern
Haleigh Hoff in "Here, Queer, Ready For A Beer" Hoff Goods Tee
CHELSIE: Introduce yourself. Who are you? What are your pronouns? What's your vibe?
HALEIGH: My name is Haleigh Hoff. My pronouns are she/her. And my vibe is chill as fuck... hahah, yeah right. My vibe is loud and chaotic, I think.
CHELSIE: That's a good vibe though.
HALEIGH: Trying to get chill.
CHELSIE: I'm trying to get more chill too. I don't know how I'm doing with that. but you know, it's a lifelong process of chilling, but also I kind of like being a little chaotic sometimes. Tell me about Hoff Goods.
HALEIGH: My company is Hoff Goods. I'm Hoff, and they are my goods that I make. It started out of freelancing a couple of years ago and wanting to do some work for myself because when you freelance you're just a contractor for other people and I was never designing anything for myself and I got sick of that. So I started making stickers and small goods of my designs, just for fun, and to keep myself inspired and never thought I would turn it into a business, but people started buying a lot of them and I saw the potential for a business. So after about a year of selling stickers, just willy nilly, I decided to ball up and get an LLC and make it a whole brand. Now it's a couple years in and I've expanded it to an apparel brand as well as my goal is for it to not be defined as really any one thing, kind of like a creative studio/brand experience that goes all over the things I like. I'm trying to integrate my music and DJ'ing into it along with maybe one day, some educational/entertainment aspects as well. It's a myriad of things, but it's really just a place where I put my creative energy.
CHELSIE: Have you always identified as a creative?
HALEIGH: Yeah, I think even before that was a trendy term that then became an employee role, I've always worked creatively. My first job was teaching dance from age 14 til about 27/28. Everything I did in that sphere was incredibly creative. From there I learned photography and graphic design and video, and I just kind of kept only working in a creative lens. The most uncreative thing I've done is working in graphic design, but for tech companies that don't feel creative to me.
CHELSIE: I've taken your dance classes. They're very good.
HALEIGH: You have taken some of my dance classes and you're a very good student. Your energy is unmatched.
Jeff and Jamal for Hoff Goods "Big Gay Drop" Summer 2021
CHELSIE: You just had a merch drop for this month. Will you tell me about it?
HALEIGH: Yeah. Gay pride baby! It was about time I did a gay pride collection because I am a gay person. I wanted to do a drop this summer and so I just did one all around Pride. For the whole month of Pride, I've done what I'm calling GCO, "Gay Content Only". That was the lead-up to "My Big Gay Drop", which is just a couple of shirts, a hat, and some stickers. I'm just over here trying to dress the gays of the globe in my gear.
CHELSIE: Dressing the gays of the globe in my gear! That's some sick alliteration.
HALEIGH: Haha, you're totally right. I didn't even think about it, but it is, it's just a lot of gay-gay stuff.
CHELSIE: That should be your thesis statement. Hoff Goods: dressing the gays across the globe in my gear. What's your favorite piece from the collection?
HALEIGH: I think the hat. It's the first hat I've done with intentional embroidery in multiple locations. I've been wanting to do a hat for a really long time, and I feel excited about how they turned out, but I also love both the t-shirts. They all are a little bit different than the stuff I've made before. It feels exciting because this is the direction I've been trying to create for a while. But because I had a full-time job, I wasn't really able to put all the time and energy into getting the apparel exactly how I wanted.
CHELSIE: How has your Big Gay Drop been received?
HALEIGH: People are excited about it. I was a little nervous because you know, gay pride, people think bright colors: it's loud, it's fun, it's cute. I kind of went super minimalistic and not cutesy at all. I went black and white only, very kind of straightforward, or should I say gayforward, in the approach. I was like this is either going to land really well or not all. And so far it seems people are really liking it.
CHELSIE: That's great. How do you want to show up in the world as a creative? How do you envision that for yourself?
HALEIGH: I want to be versatile, and I want to be known for being versatile. I don't like being boxed into just graphic designer, and I have been for a while now and I don't see myself as just a graphic designer. And so what I want to do with Hoff Goods and whatever projects I'm working on with clients right now is to prove that I can do a lot more than just graphic design. And what I see myself in the larger picture is overseeing the head of a creative agency or a creative company that does a lot of different work and doesn't have to box itself in. Part of that is advocacy work and being socially aware. I want to be sustainable and also just be a creative powerhouse. And so right now I'm just trying to figure out how to start laying the stepping stones for that, for the Hoff Goods global empire. Hahaha.
"No Hetero" Sticker from Hoff Goods Summer 2021 "Big Gay Drop" Collection
CHELSIE: You recently quit your day job, right?
HALEIGH: As of last week I quit my day job, and now I'm back fully functioning on my own as of Monday this week.
CHELSIE: Congratulations. How does that feel?
HALEIGH: It feels great. I feel free. I feel excited and I feel a little bit less gripped by the world of capitalism, which is super important to me, even though I'm still obviously a part of it. It feels better to be making my own rules and making my own money off of my own stuff and not tied to anybody else. So we'll see what happens in the next couple of months here, but the goal right now is to, yeah, just fly solo for a while and have intentional collaborations and projects with people that I believe in and feel aligned with and pour more energy back into my own stuff because it's been on the back burner for a while and it's a bummer because momentum has been building with Hoff Goods and then I'm not able to give my time to it. And so it's just been like flatlining for the last two years. And so I'm excited to pour some energy back into it and see what happens.
CHELSIE: What would your dream collaboration be?
HALEIGH: I would love, love, love, love, love, love, love to do a shoe design. I'm obsessed with Nike's collaborations. The Jordan collaboration with Travis Scott was really good in my opinion. I would also love to do a Hoff Goods basketball league where I would outfit jerseys, shorts, sweatbands, kind of kitschy basketball shit, and I feel like a collaboration would make that super helpful.
CHELSIE: What's your creative process like?
HALEIGH: I don't really know what my process is. It feels like most of my ideas come to me as I'm falling asleep. A lot of my best ideas I think have wasted away to dreamland. I go to bed kind of anxious, like trying to make sure that I've looked at this thought in my head or like quickly scribble it down on my phone. When I wake up and I have to like jump out of bed and go and try and make it a reality. My creative process is not like a super coherent, productive process. It's chaotic. I feel like I have creative days, and I have not creative days. On the not creative days, I used to feel really bad about it when I felt like I couldn't get anything out. But then I have to just remember that one day this week or two days this week, I'll probably be back in the flow and that energy will come. I don't try and force it when it's not coming. Cause then I just get from this anxious and depressive spiral of self-shame, which is not good for anybody.
CHELSIE: The reality is it's not possible to be on all the time. It comes in waves, and I'm learning how to be kinder to myself when I feel lacking in motivation as it relates to my work too.
HALEIGH: It's really hard. I have found so much inspiration from just scrolling through Instagram and creating mood boards and the same with Pinterest. That's what gets the juices flowing, but then often I will try and take what I found as inspiration and turn it into my own designs. And sometimes it's really hard because I'm finding myself almost copying what I just was inspired by, which is not good. For Pride month, I've been accumulating Pride mood boards for the last couple of months that weren't anything design-related. It was vintage photos from the Stonewall Riots and gay pride parades in the seventies and eighties and just using photographs together. Then I was like, okay, what can I make that feels inspired by this? That's always a cool process because then I feel like my ideas are uniquely my own though inspired by photography. I'm trying to get better about using more visual concepts or color palettes or feelings to be my inspiration versus actually looking at graphic design or other t-shirts or whatever to inspire my work.
CHELSIE: Absolutely. You grew up as a dancer, and I've seen the photos of you as a baby decked out in makeup. That is very much not your vibe now. What is your relationship with beauty today coming from that origin story of performing as a dancer in full glam garb?
HALEIGH: I love that you're asking me this. How much time do you have? Will you be charging me for a therapy session? This has been a huge theme in my life. I was born the way I am now. I've resisted beauty and femininity in so many ways since I was a little kid and having my mother as my mother who you've met. She is a glam queen. She is always covered in makeup and dressed to the nines. There are no days off and that's who she is. She runs a dance studio and she wanted a daughter that would fit within that same mold and she didn't get that. There has been tension, to say the least, between her and me in that regard and how I was able to identify and express myself as a younger kid because I grew up in the dance studio. At the dance studio, I was in full glam. I was in leotards and tights. I was all of that. At home, I was wearing baggy pants covered in mud. I didn't want anything to do with anything clean or feminine. I wanted to be able to play. It was like two different identities that I had my whole life. Only recently have I started to open my mind up for the first time to a skincare routine and wearing makeup and wearing jewelry and dressing a little more feminine because it's been something that I never wanted to do, but had to do my whole life. I've been playing with new things and having fun doing so. It feels like I'm so late to the party, because I created my whole identity off of resisting all of that for so long. It's interesting.
CHELSIE: When you can make the decision to have a relationship with grooming or beauty because it makes you feel good in whatever way that works for you is powerful. Beauty doesn't need to be tied to being femme or femininity. There's this binary construct within this space that doesn't work anymore. I think it's really interesting when you can develop a relationship with something independent of your caregivers' dogma.
HALEIGH: Yeah, exactly. I'm learning that I can have my own understanding and relationship with the feminine and what it means to me to be feminine is not the same as it is for anybody else. That was a huge groundbreaking thought that my therapist helped me identify about a year ago. It's been crazy for me to realize that I really always associated femininity with my mom and the ballet world and the show world. It's been really cool to define it for myself.
CHELSIE: Absolutely. Is there anything else that you want to share about yourself?
HALEIGH: Yeah, just a little tidbit about Pride. It's different for everybody so much what we were just talking about, like having your own relationship with your sexual identity is something to celebrate. And it's taken me a really long time to feel comfortable talking about gayness at large and queerness at large. Pride is something I take a lot of joy in because I'm becoming more and more comfortable in myself. It feels great to reclaim the things that used to be scary or painful and intimidating to address. I'm going to express myself very loudly in that regard and see how it feels. So far it feels really fun.