These days, Cat Ellis spends a lot of time cutting large quantities of tulle at her home office in Poway. She's perfectly content doing it, because after years of toiling away in the corporate world, Ellis is finally where she wants to be: in the tutu business.
Last month, the avid runner launched Lucki Lime, a line of very bright, high-energy race-day apparel and accessories. So, from now on, when you see hot-pink compression socks or lime-green tutus and matching shirts at running events around town, they're probably hers. And Ellis takes great care in designing all of it. The race-day shirts ($38.95), which are custom-made and manufactured in the Los Angeles Garment District, are cut specifically for women. A little longer to cover the hips, a little more fitted to feel less boxy in the waist, they feature a more feminine neckline and cap sleeves. These details are important to Ellis because "when you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you have a good run."
And then, of course, there are the tutus—DIY tutu kits ($29.95), to be exact. Ellis wanted them to be more functional and more customizable for all body types. Not even the guys can refuse a frilly skirt that easily snaps on and off.
Here, Ellis shares her thoughts on running, chafing and the recent tutu scandal heard 'round the world.
CityBeat: You said you've been thinking about thematic race-day clothing for years. How did Lucki Lime finally come about?
Ellis: I was ready to move on [from the corporate world], and I've always wanted to see if I could run my own business. My husband and I do a lot of races. We love to do the fun runs, and we always loved dressing up. I would always wear a tutu or some crazy outfit. We were starting to have a hard time trying to find things to wear. Sometimes I would wear crazy Halloween costumes, but I'd get super chafed or I'd get blisters from $5 socks from Target because they're fun and cute and I wanted to be matchy-matchy. And I thought, You know what? We should do something. So we launched at the St. Patrick's Day Fun Run that we run every year. There were tutus everywhere, and it was fantastic.
But why is it spelled wrong?
As far as Lucky vs. Lucki, this decision was purely from a design perspective. I really liked the logo not having any descenders in the typeface. I knew I wanted [the name] to stem from our annual St. Pat's Day run. That's where the "Lucki" came from. Lime green is my favorite color, and I really liked how it made me smile and think happy thoughts when I said "Lucki Lime" out loud. It had the right personality.
So, tutus are a thing at running events?
[Laughs.] I always wear them, but I wouldn't necessarily say everyone wears them. But dressing up makes it more fun for me, and for a lot of other people. I think that you get more feedback from the crowd. People cheer for you if you're dressed up a little bit. I'm not ever going to be a podium winner. I'm out there to do the best I can do, but I'm always there to have fun.
Recently, Self magazine was criticized for calling a San Diego woman and her friend "lame" for wearing tutus while running a marathon. Turns out, the woman is a cancer survivor and raises money by selling tutus. You wrote about Tutugate on your blog. Could you not believe what happened or could you not believe that there was another local company making tutus?
[Laughs.] Both! I had never heard of the other company, and I couldn't believe that Self magazine could do something like that. It made me a little sad. Here's these two girls that are doing something fantastic and having a good time. Then I come to find out that she's also undergoing chemo. So, we had to talk about Tutugate. We got a group of runners together, and we went down to support her at a last-minute support run. We are a little bit different [than the other company] because we have a broader assortment and have a different giving-back cause. Ours is primarily focused on dogs, pet-cancer awareness, adoptions and animal rescue.