The story behind the name of Liz Bourgeois' children's clothing company is -- like her pint-sized trousers, dresses and shirts -- cute.
The story behind the name of Liz Bourgeois’ children’s clothing company is -- like her pint-sized trousers, dresses and shirts -- cute.
“When you have kids, everything changes,” said the 34-year-old mother of two. “Some days you need to pump yourself up to get going. I called us Team Chipmunk. … My kids are like chipmunks: chatty, curious, eager.”
They (Bert is 5 and Lyda is 2) also were the first “clients” of the Team Chipmunk clothing line, kids’ outfits made from cloth from ladies’ dresses, tablecloths or curtains.
The family moved from L.A. to Clintonville in 2009, and Bourgeois only started selling outfits for others this January. Martha Stewart’s magazine has already come knocking to feature Team Chipmunk dresses.
Shoppers have wiped out her one-of-kind-item inventory at craft fairs and Easton Farmers’ Markets.
In a world of Big Box kids’ clothes, Bourgeois said customers appreciate the uniqueness of the outfits. The fact that they’re made out of sturdy kid-friendly fabric and have handsewn construction details like embroidery and pin tucking doesn’t hurt either.
As a costume designer for Broadway’s “Avenue Q” and on indie movie sets in L.A., Bourgeois learned how to create clothes from found items on shoestring budgets and how to make those items last.
That costuming background affects her patterns, too. The girls’ dresses are inspired by Shirley Temple and the impeccably dressed rough-and-tumble tots in Lewis Hine photographs. The popular boys’ pants are modeled after knickers from Victorian street wear, comfortable and efficient for growing bodies while providing a “skater meets newsboy” aesthetic.
Team Chipmunk’s clothing comes in sizes 18 months to five years. Prices vary by design and labor involved; some skirts are $20, coats $120.
Bourgeois is proud Team Chipmunk is her second act, allowing her to be a mother, artist and eco-conscious creator.
“I’d rather be at home with my kids,” she said. “The idea of what I am has changed, but the need to create hasn’t. I have to do it. I think all creative people can relate to that.”
Photo by Jodi Miller