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A Line to Grow Into

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When costume designer Liz Bourgeois noticed the clothes her two young children wore didn’t seem to fit their active lifestyle and growing bodies, she decided to do something about it.

 

“I started developing things that would address some of the problems and challenges I was seeing,” Bourgeois said. “That’s why I started doing children’s wear. I wasn’t purposefully trying to start a company.”

 

But start a company she did, and so began the women and children’s fashion line, Team Chipmunk, named after what Bourgeois used to call her children when she was trying to wrangle them to go somewhere.

 

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Liz Bourgeois, Designer and Founder of Team Chipmunk.

“They’re noisy and wiggly and distracting and hyperactive and kind of squirelly,” Bourgeois said. “So I would say, ‘Let’s go Team Chipmunk!’”

 

The line carries dresses, shirts, onesies and more, all in boy and girl styles. She designs everything herself, making the patterns and cutting the batches of fabric.

 

She employs a team of seamstresses from all around Ohio who help sew the garments. These women range from moms to college students to retirees. Bourgeois said she’s made it a priority to make Team Chipmunk a women-friendly business, and her seamstresses are all women who like to sew and need flexible working schedules.

 

Coming from Los Angeles, California, Bourgeois and her husband decided to move to Ohio to raise their children. As a costume designer in LA, Bourgeois said she always tinkered around with clothing — so creating things to better fit her children wasn’t unusual. Once Bourgeois moved to Ohio she found fabrics in antique stores, yard sales, flea markets and more, looking for anything that inspired her.

 

Though Team Chipmunk has been a fashion line since 2009, it just recently opened a brick and mortar store in February on Third Street in downtown Columbus. So far, she said it’s been a bit of an experiment to see how the business does with a physical location. Currently, customers can stop in Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and by appointment on Tuesday.

 

Although her training for costumes was in designing for adults, Bourgeois didn’t start her adult portion of the line until last year after repeated requests from customers.

 

Chipmunk-5“Even from the beginning people constantly would say ‘I want this in my size,’” Bourgeois said. “I realized there was already a market for what we were doing, only now for adults. It just took me a little while to make it more mature and grown up.”

 

Bourgeois says she gets a lot of her inspiration from paintings, art décor and architecture. She’s drawn to specific historical periods, and is looking at 1920’s and ‘30’s clothing as inspiration for the fall line.

 

An important aspect for her has been to remain green. Team Chipmunk remains an eco-friendly line in using only vintage or recycled fabric.

 

As for the future of Team Chipmunk, Bourgeois said she hopes to continue to grow the adult line, and is monitoring her success in Columbus to find out where they will grow the most locally. Team Chipmunk also sells pieces nationwide though other retailers and online businesses.

 

Bourgeois said, “I think our challenges are how to scale up given the nature of the line and the character. There’s an exclusivity to only selling so many pieces each season.” Bourgeois said that the team aspires to make “clothes for women and girls who speak their own minds and have their own style and don’t copy anyone else.”

 

To find out more about Team Chipmunk, check out their website here.

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