Ricochet is the type of storefront that you might notice for the first time every time you pass by, but more and more it seems to stand out amongst the newer, larger buildings around it.
The building itself is a small, green cottage with picture windows and a wooden sign that sits back from the street on El Camino. Or at least it seems to sit back from the street in that it doesn’t tower over you, forcing you to notice it, but rather, it coaxes you with its quaint quirkiness.
What’s inside is equally quirky: An art gallery by way of a retail fashion boutique. Once inside, one discovers dozens of displays of clothing, and art, all handmade by local artists and curated by owner Jill Pillot.
Pillot has eclectic tastes – a side effect of her mother’s globe trekking lifestyle.
“My mom always thought the grass was greener somewhere else,” Pillot said of her mother’s wanderlust, which took them to places like South Africa, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Canary Islands, and Greece. “I’ve lived in many different types of countries, from areas where kids were walking with no shoes, to places that were quite swanky with private beaches, and I think that’s where my eclectic nature came from.”
+5 As a child she never got to put down roots for long. She dreamed of starting a hotel in which local artists would be featured in the décor, but settled in 1996 for a 200-square-foot retail space where Ricochet began as a second-hand clothing store for children.
Eventually she began repurposing materials from thrift store items for her own fashion designs, and soon the store was carrying both her own original creations and those of local artists.
+5 “As I was evolving with my line of clothes I was doing a lot of fashion shows and I was getting great response from it because at that time recycled materials were not so in,” Pillot said.
Pillot was able to move to a larger space just two doors down from her original location to expand the reach of Ricochet’s inspiration.
Internships & Classes
Ricochet has offered classes for over ten years. They began on the second floor of the original space, where Pillot was living with her two sons. She converted a spare bedroom into a studio where she taught sewing classes for students as young as 8 years old. Now in the new larger space and with their fashion shows starting to take off in popularity, they have been able to offer modeling classes for all ages.
“I wanted to start teaching,” Pillot said. “So I started the academy for children and adults to teach them how to create from what they have in their closets, and in that sense be very environmentally friendly… Often the children say, ‘I have this vision,’ and I used to have a vision, too, and I could never make my vision because I didn’t have the tools or I didn’t have the fabric. So we teach them how to create with what they’re surrounded with.”
The popularity of the classes grew into more hands-on experiences.
“Little by little the academy evolved into an internship program and the internship program was open to college students to get hands-on as a stepping stone to build up their resumes and portfolios and so forth. To give them a little bit of a taste of what it takes.”
+5 Internships are offered in multiple areas including small business development, design, marketing, and photography.
+5 Pillot has found that while many of her interns are seeking a way to bridge the gap between college and making a career for themselves, she also gets high school kids testing the waters before they dedicate their college studies to fashion.
“A lot of students coming out of college after spending three or four years realize that perhaps it was a lot harder to become a fashion designer than they had anticipated prior to going into college,” Pillot said. “So I opened the doors to kids as young as 13 years old with the apprenticeship programs. This is the one that is rising right now.”
“Students at this age have a desire to become designers or be in the fashion industry and we want to give them a taste of that prior to signing up for college,” Pillot said. “A lot of parents are liking that because that is the moment to see if that’s something you want to pursue.”
Ricochet’s programs, then, are able to create a stable foundation of skills for an intriguing but intimidating industry, as well offering hands-on experiences to guide students and interns through the process of turning their art into a career.
Art Finds Art
Pillot is an award-winning designer who has earned local and national awards for her various clothing lines and design work.
Her current line of clothing is called Ricochet, Art Finds Art. She is collaborating with visual artists who provide pieces to print on fabrics and Pillot then uses those fabrics to create garments inspired by the original artwork.
“Being an artist you have to kind of let me be a little bit,” Pillot said. “So I choose pictures that I feel connected with, something that has a good feel for me, and they give me their works and they evolve into garments… with fabrics that I feel connect with the picture.”
Each piece remains unique because Pillot is dedicated to rescued materials and letting each garment come from a natural progression of the artistic process.
“With my line of clothes I only design one of a kind, I never use patterns, and I use a lot more rescued materials,” Pillot explained. “I lay them on the table and I never know what they will become. They evolve into the pieces that you see here – freestyle, fashion without boundaries.”
Pillot will do custom pieces at the request of an artist or a customer, but even these pieces will carry some of her own personal flair.
As an extension of the Ricochet artist community, Pillot opens the door for a potluck happy hour every first Thursday of the month between September and May.
Pillot prefers the potluck style because it starts conversations, and encourages people to bring a bit of their own creativity to the party, and those that do bring something are rewarded with a 10 percent discount throughout the store.
In addition to food and drink, the artists are usually present for the events, and Ricochet provides entertainment of all kinds from comedy to music to dancing.
This is just one more way in which Pillot is connecting the our community through art.
The Evolution of Ricochet
Pillot’s dream of a boutique hotel never came to fruition, but 22 years after starting Ricochet, she is still going strong, thriving, and growing.
“I didn’t know this would be it, but it evolved organically, and I think that’s the key to our success,” Pillot said. “Now we want to give back to our community by giving any type of artist an opportunity to explore. A lot of people are being told that they cannot make it in the arts as a profession and we can hopefully be an inspiration to others to say yes you can, but it’s a lot of dedication and a lot of passion.”
While the world around Ricochet grows with newer, bigger, more imposing buildings, Jill Pillot’s little cottage boutique grows right along side. It is no more physically imposing than it was, but from a child who never settled in one place for long, the seeds of creativity, ambition, and curiosity she has planted with Ricochet are growing roots deeper and deeper into our community. Pillot continues to use her talents, experiences, and ever-expanding community of artists and friends to touch more lives, help more artists thrive, and support the art and fashion industries on a larger scale by sending more experienced, talented artists into the world with the tools they need to succeed.Read more at:celebrity dresses | sexy formal dresses