This month’s profile features Liz Bourgeois, founder of Team Chipmunk. Bourgeois is a textile enthusiast, Broadway costume designer, history lover and a mother of two. Before founding Team Chipmunk in 2009, she lived in New York and Los Angeles , and earned a MFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
Greater Columbus Art’s Council: Tell us a bit about your background. Did you study fashion design?
Liz Bourgeois: I studied Costume Design for Theater and Film. I have an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
GCAC: Are you from the area? If not, what brought you to Columbus?
LB: I moved to Columbus in 2009 with my husband and kids, from LA. I lived in New York before that, and grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
GCAC: You make designs mostly for children, yes? Why so? What inspires you?
LB: We actually have an adult line as well now, but the children’s line came first, and is more established. My training is definitely in designing for adults, though I did design for some TV pilots and commercials with children in them, and really only started designing for children in earnest when my kids were born. My first children’s designs were in an effort to make clothes better suited to their bodies than what I was finding in stores. Everything that was cute and available in traditional retail was always popping open or falling down, plus nothing fit for very long. I designed styles that took into account the funny little shapes of my kids infant and toddler bodies, fit through different vertical growth spurts, and washed well. I have always loved vintage fabrics and prints, have spent a lot of time studying and appreciating historical clothing and textiles, and aspire to create and wear trendless classical looks. I’m inspired by art, architecture, nature, music and street style.
GCAC: Most of your designs are made from vintage and recycled fabrics. What do you like best about working with these materials? Where do you find them?
LB: I like their eclecticism, character, and history. I like their exclusivity as well. I love the look of them, and I love the positive environmental impact we provide in recycling post-consumer materials. I find them through vintage wholesalers, estate sales, and more recently donations.
GCAC: What have you been up to lately with your business, Team Chipmunk? Do you have a storefront or plan to?
LB: We opened a storefront at 281 S. Third Street, at the Columbus Commons. We actually use half of the space as a workshop, where customers can see our line in production. We launched an adult line last year, which features vintage and fair trade textiles, classic wearable cuts, and custom fitting.
GCAC: You’ve been a part of the small business/artisan scene here in town for a while. What’s it like being a part of this community of entrepreneurial artists in Columbus?
LB: Columbus is the most welcoming and supportive community of creative I’ve lived in, and I’ve been in a few. There is an amazing energy here, creativity and innovation percolates in all corners. Columbus, right now, has limitless potential, growth, and possibility for many of us. It is a city on the rise, with many years of positive progress ahead, and a smart creative and eclectic population with a vision for the future.
GCAC: Who are some of your favorite fashion designers?
LB: Claire McCardell, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren – and I am an old-school Coach loyalist.
GCAC: Will you be doing any shows this summer? Where can folks learn more about Team Chipmunk?
LB: We have the store at Columbus Commons for residents and visitors to Columbus. We also have merchandise at Glean, Wholly Craft, and Simply Vague. We have new retailers to announce in October and November as well. Out of towners can order our clothes at www.teamchipmunk.com, soon on Amazon, and frequently at our friend zulily.com. We are popping up at the Moonlight Market on Gay Street in August and September, and always enjoy hanging out with Craftin Outlaws and Etsy Columbus at their Holiday shows.